After Decades of Declamation: Higher Education on the Move towards Lifelong Learning?
For many decades, both key actors and scholars in the area of education predicted that the educational system is on the move towards fundamental change. It was expected, first, that separate types of institutions would move towards a more articulated, flexible and permeable ‘system’. It was emphasized that stages of formal learning would become more important than tracks, and the terms ‘primary’ or ‘elementary’, ‘secondary’ and ‘tertiary education’ gained momentum. Finally, it was widely assumed that teaching and learning beyond the usual age of entry to employment and adulthood would expand substantially and would become an education sector – the fourth, quarternary sector – of its own.
In the early 1970s, the importance of learning beyond these early pre-career stages was underscored almost concurrently by UNESCO (Faure 1972, UNESCO 1975, OECD 1973) and various internationally well-known educational researchers (notably Hutchins 1970, Husén 1974, cf. also Cross 1981 and Husén 1986), whereby the OECD was most active in setting up various consultations, conferences and projects thereby pursuing the concept of ‘recurrent education’.
In the 1980s, ‘adult education’ figured already as one of the most prominent themes in the International Encyclopedia of Education (Husén and Postlethwaite 1985). When some major parts of the Encyclopedia were published as separate volumes, the thematic area of adult education was prominent enough to comprise such a volume (Tuijnman 1987). From the late 1970s to the 1990s, we note an impressive series of analyses of this sector characterised by various names: ‘adult...
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