Learning is a lifelong process both in terms of duration and diversity. A key element in lifelong learning is receptivity or openness. It is to retain a youthful mind even when the body continues to age. It is a mind that is ready to learn new things, relearn and improve the known things, and unlearn the outdated things. Lifelong learning also has, in a sense, a spiritual dimension. It lies in the humility to accept that there is no end to learning. When we are ready to learn and our power of receptivity is awakened, the whole world becomes a school and every life experience a teacher.
Today, technologies are rapidly evolving and changing life patterns within a lifetime. New ways of inexpensive printing, internet, and multimedia are ushering in radical changes and creating new complexities and contradictions in individual and social life. This flux in social groupings, economics, technology and Nature necessitates a regular revaluation and reframing of our thinking on education and learning. Various national and international education commissions are making serious efforts to answer such questions by redesigning the goals of education, the curriculum, and the tools of delivery.
Education is the greatest force for civilization. Passing on to the next generation the cumulative knowledge of sciences, technology, arts, fine arts, ethical values and spiritual realizations, in short the whole of civilizational heritage depends in the widest sense of education. In fact, the survival of human society depends on education. Experts in education have begun to emphasise that we should teach our children to be learners, rather than providing them occupational training, because the jobs that are available today may not exist tomorrow. Therefore, we must make learning about education itself a lifelong endeavour.
The policy makers in the field of education must themselves continue to learn and relearn their idea of education. Only then they will be able to revaluate and recognize their perspectives, priorities and practices in the education system and cater to the contemporary needs. Apart from learning to accumulate information, students must be trained in the art of inner assimilation through openness of mind, power of receptivity and above all, the humility to be lifelong learners. Studying and contemplating on the different perspectives and practices in education therefore warrants continuous effort from all thinkers and policy makers in the educational system. So let us learn to learn!
Dr. Mahesh Chandra Panda