In a time of fundamental changes learning is becoming a focus topic in public debates, among entrepreneurs and in policymaking. The paradigm shift in the discussions might be outlined with the terms competency orientation, empowerment, and lifelong learning.
Generally competency orientation describes an approach to focus on individual learners qualities and how they might put learned knowledge, skills or attitudes into successful practice in their contexts. Especially key competencies are crucial, those abilities one needs to mobilize in diverse situations in life and in order to solve a diversity of problems. These are in example creativity, initiative, cooperation, dialogue, or acting inline with the personal values and visions. I am not advocating for an utilitarist exploitation of competencies, rather for the enlargement of the individual learners’ spaces for opportunities. Learning could better be understood as individual empowerment.
Lifelong learning is as such just describing a common place. Because through all times people were learning outside of schools and of universities. They gain experience in jobs, public and private life. They grow with the help of these experiences and acquire new abilities. They adopt to changes in their context and ideally they are able to co-create these changes. We should give more attention to the learning spaces beyond the traditional learning institutions. These are all the spaces where citizens (together with other people) impropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes.
More Creativity and Diversity
In a way we are all learners as employees, parts of social organizations or as active citizens. Therefore, the terms learning and education need to be thought wider than they are understood in their scholastic definitions. Last but not least civil resilience depends from the citizens’ ability to and their passion for learning. In particular organizations, working places and the public space offer wide opportunities for gaining these individual and civic competencies. New learning approaches and programmes should connect these spaces and shape them more oriented on the needs and goals of the people, with more creativity and in more multifaceted forms.
A World Worth Living
In times of fundamental change democracies are relying on each individual. We all as equal citizens should ideally feel empowered to understand the social challenges around us and to co-create the responding solutions. Let it be in our small environments, or in regard to the bigger societal challenges like digitization of our lives, managing the climate crisis, or strengthening the democratic civic culture against populism and new authoritarianism. Furthermore, we should be encouraged and motivated to learning. For my work as a consultant, project designer, advocate, or educator this democratic dimension is not a complementary but the central intrinsic motivation.
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