The goal of lifelong learning is to enable volunteers, at any stage of their careers, to have stimulating learning experiences.
During the last fifty years, constant scientific and technological innovation and change has had a profound effect on learning needs and styles. Learning can no longer be divided into a place and time to acquire knowledge (school) and a place and time to apply the knowledge acquired (the workplace). Instead, learning can be seen as something that takes place on an ongoing basis from our daily interactions with others and with the world around us. It can take the form of formal learning or informal learning, or self-directed learning (for definition, see below).
A short definition of lifelong learning would be: “All learning activity undertaken throughout life, with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competences within a personal, civic, social and/or employment-related perspective” Now – let’s see how this can help us become better volunteers for Scouting.
As a movement where we support young people to become autonomous and responsible citizens in the community, it is important to have volunteers that are aware and interested in their continuos own personal development – applying the lifelong learning principles.
Besides the support that a volunteer is getting from the organization, they can also be actively involved in deciding what are their own learning needs and try to find the most adequate ways to address those needs. In Scouting, we have the possibility to take on challenges that you are not formally trained for or have previous experience of, with the support of peers. This is a great training ground for lifelong learning.
To most obvious way of facilitating lifelong learning is to systematically provide access to formal and informal learning opportunities. The motivation of the volunteer is a critical factor: Suggested learning outcomes must be inspirational enough for the volunteer to take on the necessary activities. In the broadest sense, lifelong learning in Scouting can be defined as the result of reflection about all the activities in which the volunteer is involved.
Not every volunteer is motivated to learn new things (at least in Scouting). They might, for example, feel that Scouting is a context where they only want to do something they’re already familiar with. Here the purpose of Scouting is probably the best motivator. We are in the business of educating young people. In order to do this, volunteers will have to learn new things to keep the education and support we provide as relevant and effective as possible.
The concept of self-directed learning is a good model that can be used by the volunteers in this case. “In its broadest meaning, ’self-directed learning’ describes a process by which individuals take the initiative, with or without the assistance of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identify human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.” (Knowles (1975). In self-directed learning, the volunteer uses a wide range of learning environments and learning opportunities like such as learning by doing, massive open online courses (MOOCs), e-learning, trainings, mentoring, webinars or coaching.
In Scouting context, self-directed learning is usually the most motivating when the learning outcomes support the volunteer in dealing with current role-specific challenges or the task at hand. In more long-term Scouting assignments or projects, the pedagogical strategy of problem-based learning (PBL) can be used to foster personal development as part of the work undertaken.
Learning to know: mastering learning tools rather than acquisition of structured knowledge
Learning to do: equipping people for the types of work needed now and in the future including innovation and adaptation of learning to future work environments.
Learning to live together, and with others: peacefully resolving conflict, discovering other people and their cultures, fostering community capability, individual competence and capacity, economic resilience, and social inclusion
Learning to be: education contributing to a person’s complete development, mind and body, intelligence, sensitivity, aesthetic appreciation and spirituality.