When do we begin to learn? When do we stop learning? When have we learnt enough to not pursue it further? Does learning not begin even before birth and does it not cease only life ends?
To understand lifelong learning, first let us understand what learning means in anthropological terms. Anthropologists determine that as an infant grows, she/he learns of their existence with respect to their family, community, and society. This includes their awareness of how adults conduct themselves and socially accepted norms and forms of behaviour. This pattern of learning may evolve with age and time but even on achieving adulthood, we want to continue learning, for example, we want to learn how to use the latest gadget or how to play the violin. This is precisely what lifelong learning is; learning that is voluntary and not limited to formal education within a structured course. While you may take up a course at a music school to pursue your interest in playing the violin, it need not be necessarily related to financial or professional gain. Lifelong learning is often also understood as continual learning as interests evolve and people aim for personal growth. Let us look at some benefits of lifelong learning.
Your need to develop with time
Competencies such as managing finances and investments or skills that hone personality and are not restricted to formal education. They can be learnt at any age without social restrictions (often without spending money) and such forms of lifelong learning help in essential life skill development. They can be learnt from family members or friends. During the process of this interaction, the bond between the mentor and mentee also becomes stronger while working toward a common goal (that of teaching-learning the skill). It also fills up empty blocks of our schedule in a day or week productively and keeps the mind active.
If you decide to learn more about the nutritional value of food products that you consume or wish to inculcate a certain pattern in your diet, lifelong learning will tangibly promote personal growth as well as improve your health. Let at look at this aspect further. To pay attention to your health, you may decide to learn yoga or other formats to work out. This is lifelong learning in its essence.
Some learnings can go beyond personal benefits to even professional growth. For instance, if your work profile involves a lot of interaction with people and is a client-facing role, you may want to learn how to have impeccable communication skills or enhance your negotiation power which will in turn translate to you doing better in your work profile. Sometimes, lifelong learning also means polishing skills you may already have acquired. Let us say you are proficient in handling most photo-editing software, you may want to learn more about the latest software that is available around you.
The only thing lifelong learning demands of you is a willingness to learn and motivation to pursue the process of learning. You can learn from books, podcasts, experiences, acquaintances, and even tutorial videos. Compulsory formal institutional education usually ends at a certain age, but learning need not to…let us continue to learn to become more productive, happier beings!