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Ignoring diversity: Lifelong learning as cultural imperialism

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conference contribution
posted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Margaret CulmseeMargaret Culmsee
Lifelong learning is often seen as self-evidently good and directed primarily at individual personal growth, career development and self-actualisation. In this paper, equity practitioners at Central Queensland University will argue that despite the contemporary focus on Lifelong Learning, there is not nearly enough practical discussion of the ways formal learning settings can be transformed so that the learning experience is inclusive. Attention needs to be paid to the way self is understood within different cultures and the extent to which this may influence different conceptualisations of lifelong learning. Lifelong Learning should be about human development rather than merely for human resource development. To learn what is good, learners must identify for themselves what values are central to man development and well being, and how such values are transmitted and distorted in the interests of the powerful. Lifelong Learning should not be about coercing certain groups in society to meet the heights of achievement demanded by the dominant group. The dogma that institutionalised learning never ends places unfair and unreasonable pressure on learners, especially those who are already under pressure. Educators need to be prepared to accept strong philosophical and ideological differences in how lifelong learning is legitimised in different cultures. Institutionalised lifelong learning may not be the bridge to community values. Instead of seeking to rationalise lifelong learning within the familiar, we need to accept new ways of thinking. We need to draw on traditional learning systems to enhance formalised learning. Not to do so will perpetuate the lie that Lifelong Learning is superior to traditional learning systems.


Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)



Danaher PA; Macpherson CR; Nouwens F; Orr DL

Parent Title

Lifelong learning : whose responsibility and what is your contribution? : refereed papers from the 3rd International Lifelong Learning Conference, Yeppoon, Central Queensland, Australia, 13 - 16 June 2004

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Yeppoon, Qld.


Central Queensland University

Place of Publication

Rockhampton, Qld

Additional Rights

The authors retain individual copyright of their own papers. Permission received from authors to deposit into ACQUIRE - Central Queensland University Institutional Repository.

Peer Reviewed

  • No

Open Access

  • No

External Author Affiliations

Central Queensland University; Equity Office;

Era Eligible

  • No

Name of Conference

3rd Lifelong Learning Conference