Successful Lifelong Learning through Autonomy and ‘Capitals’

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What would it take to grow your skills as a lifelong learner? On 8 November, The HEAD Foundation, in partnership with the Asia-Europe Foundation, hosted the Dialogue “Successful Lifelong Learning through Autonomy and ‘Capitals’”.

Dr Séamus Ó Tuama, Chair of ASEM Education and Research Hub for Lifelong Learning (ASEM LLL  Hub) shared his prism of reflexive modernity, which centered around the five ‘Capitals’: seed capital, identity capital, cultural capital, social capital and human capital. He was joined by Prof Hong Hai, Chairman of U3A Duxton Hill and Emeritus Professor at Nanyang Technology University and Mr Koh Chye Soon, Head of 42 Singapore at Singapore University of Technology and Design who shared on U3A Duxton Hill and 42 Singapore’s activities respectively.

Learning is constant and not limited to formal education for the young. Starting from a young age, we learn to cope with life and learn for career and to improve our prospects. Challenging the norm that learning is mainly to improve one’s employability, the speakers elucidated on how might we enable learners to place themselves at the centre of their own life, to plan and fulfil their own aspirations while having joy during learning?

This includes informal education whereby one accumulates a range of skills through varied life and work experiences. Other education pathways include a self-paced learning journey such as that offered by 42 Singapore for adults above 18 years old, whereby learners undergo a 100% project-based and 100% practical curriculum without any teachers or timetable.. More mature learners (third ‘age’ of life, no longer pursuing a full-time career) can also choose to participate in University of the Third Age (U3A), an international movement aiming to educate and stimulate minds. 

While human capital is relatively well associated with lifelong learning, the learner should also tap into and build on their social capital, cultural capital and identity capital. Regardless of the baseline level (seed capital) that the learner starts with, being curious and staying hungry and taking risks in their lifelong learning journey would bring positive outcomes. These include improvement in one’s health, social networks, well-being, sense of control of over their own lives and positive changes to work, career, and active citizenship, which can then extend to subsequent generations.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the speakers in this webinar are their own and do not represent the opinions of The HEAD Foundation.

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