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Using Biographical and Life History Approaches in the Study of Adult and Lifelong Learning: European Perspectives


Edited By Linden West, Peter Alheit, Anders Siig Anderson and Barbara Merrill

This book illuminates the rich and creative uses of biographical and life history approaches in studying adult and lifelong learning, in diverse ways and settings, across many European countries. It draws on the work of internationally known scholars – under the auspices of the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA) – and encompasses learning in the workplace, in families, communities, schools, colleges and universities, as well as in the professions, and in managing processes of migration and building new social movements. The reader will discover, in these pages, a compelling chronicle of the interplay of learning across people’s lives – formal, informal and intimate – and how to make sense of this, using interdisciplinary perspectives. The book will speak to researchers – new and experienced – and educators and other professionals wanting to extend their understanding of learners and learning as well as the potential of this ‘family’ of research methods.


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10 Therapy and Narratives of Self


1 0 Therapy and Narratives of Self Marianne Horsdal The concept of l ifelong learning implies the notion of continuous movement and development in interaction with a changing world. A decade' s autobiographical narrative research on lifelong Iearning has underscored the significance of the abilities of the individual to cope with change and imagine and plan for a future. You do not know where to go - or how to get on with your I ife - if you do not know where you are, or how you got here. To make sense of temporality and re­ negotiate the biography becomes increasingly important in order to overcome a temporary standsti ll and to deal with present and future challenges. The temporal dimension is a fundamental feature of human existence. The narrative mode of cognition is the exquisite device for capturing this temporal dimension of life. And, narrative integration of change is a crucial element of learning. Our encounters with the world may be wonderful, neutral or terrifying. In the flow of life and time, our experiences are temporary, but our encounters with the world can have a long lasting impact. There are situations in which our possibil ity to act, move, or control the focus of our attention is impeded. We cannot escape the encounter, be it real or imagined. What happens to our self­ narratives in case of severe crisis or trauma? And how may therapy assist narrative integration of past, present and future, so crucial to identity work...

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