Over 20 years ago, in 1994, Unesco chose Lifelong Learning for All as a medium-run strategy for 1996-2001. During the conference in 1996, the Ministries of Education of the OECD encouraged member states to “put lifelong learning into reality for everyone” and to give it a priority for the next five years. Later, the European Council of Lisbon in 2000 asserted the key role played by lifelong learning in the European social model.
The idea of lifelong learning evolved in recent times, mostly following the massive – and cheaper – spread of technology. With MOOCs available, in fact, everyone, whether young or adults, with an internet connection can attend courses cost-effectively and from everywhere.
If it is true that this allowed the access to education for more people than traditional courses, the issue of how to improve what I call lifelarge learning is yet to be resolved. The experience in schools and other institutions showed that effective education is rather “large”, than long. Lifelong learning is not enough to make students employable before graduation. Improving one’s curriculum, both academic and professional, with other practical or creative skills and experiences (volunteering, associations, extra-academic activities) can make people more versatile, flexible and “interesting” for companies and the labour market. This, however, does not mean to write down more things on one’s curriculum to make it more intriguing, but to leave room to a real generation of beyonders.
The challenge of our times is to learn how to look beyond what’s foreseeable, to learn how to manage what seems fleeing, to stare at the horizon and look beyond. To build doors to let people knock on them, bridges to walk upon hard fields, opportunities where others see adversities.
Being beyonders is a lifestyle that already belongs to the current generation of young people, who mostly grew up among crises and difficulties of every sort, and should just learn how to nurture it: with patience and dedication, care and sharing.