Why is Learning Important?
‘Learning is a process of active engagement with experience. It is what we do when we want to make sense of the world. It may involve the development or deepening of skills, knowledge, understanding, awareness, values, ideas and feelings, or an increase in the capacity to reflect. Effective learning leads to change, development and the desire to learn more.’
The Campaign for Learning’s definition of learning
We know that learning through our lives makes us generally healthier, happier, longer-living and wealthier. Not only do we benefit as individuals, but learning beyond school has wide ranging and immeasurable benefits for our families and communities, society and the economy.
The case for lifelong learning is well established. But relatively recent and major shifts in our world has made the ability to learn through our lives even more important. Having the right attitudes, dispositions and skills for learning are increasingly likely to define those of us who will get on in life.
The changing world of work
Globalisation, the disappearance of ‘jobs for life’ and new technologies are transforming the way we work.
The UK’s economy has shifted from large scale manufacturing to high tech industries such as aerospace and pharmaceuticals, and value added services. Continuing technological advances and the shift to digital have had a huge impact on traditional ways of working. Jobs that once required no basic literacy skills are disappearing, with the majority now involving intermediate or advance skills.
Equally, the way we work has changed. Flexible working, home-working, part-timers, job-shares, independent contractors: the options for employment have never been more varied, with the attendant danger that those of us without skills will fall through the cracks, lacking employee rights or opportunities for training and development. The flip-side of flexible working is networked workplaces, where technology allows us to communicate with people all over the world as easily as with our neighbour, putting a premium on communication skills. Relationships are the new bottom line.
In this new world, the ability to obtain, assimilate and apply the right knowledge will be highly valued by employers. The ability to learn how to work with others effectively will increase our employment prospects.
We will no longer be judged solely by qualifications gained in the past, but will also be assessed by our capacity and motivation to learn and adapt in the future.
A digital landscape
Technology has changed the way we shop, interact, play and manage our lives. Being curious, open minded and willing to learn means we can take advantage of all the digital world has to offer.
The move of essential and statutory services online means that there are risks to not engaging with technology. Those of us with barriers to technology, and low digital skills and understanding are already being disadvantaged both socially and economically.
Learning in families
Learning as a family develops positive intergenerational relationships, and supports children to thrive and achieve at school. It can help us as adults explore our own interests and start new learning journeys.
Parental involvement in children's learning is vital to their
educational success. But changes in the way children are taught,
increased testing and more expectations for parents to support their
children are just some of the challenges parents may face, especially if they feel unconfident and lack know-how.
Learning to thrive
People with few skills and barriers to learning are at ever greater risk of social and economic exclusion. We must learn not just to keep up, but to stay on top of life. This is about far more than just individual success – the individualism and consumerism of our media age requires thoughtful learning for both personal fulfilment and collective citizenship.
How do we support people to become confident, skilled lifelong learners?
Building learning cultures
We live our life in organisations – our families, community groups, school and workplaces to name just a few. These are places where we can be empowered to learn and grow, feel able to take risks and learn from mistakes.
Organisations with learning cultures appreciate our experiences and differences and see these as a positive. They provide supportive environments in which everyone can learn. We feel empowered to try new ideas and are encouraged to reflect on what we’ve done to develop our understanding. We have opportunities to learn alongside and from others. We can identify our own learning needs and address them, and apply the things we’ve learned so we continue to develop. People with influence and respect, value learning and see themselves as learners too.
A learning culture helps us to build the attitudes, dispositions and skills to learn effectively and be motivated to learn through life.
Build a learning culture at work with Learning at Work Week
Run a powerful learning campaign in your workplace with our one day workshops
Support families to build a learning culture with the Family Learning Festival
Build growth mindsets at your school or college with our one day training workshops
Learning to learn
The more confident we are in our ability to learn, the more likely we are to try new things and develop our understanding and skills as well as pursue our interests. Learning how to learn, which makes the learning process explicit, can help us to become better learners. Learning to Learn approaches (also known as metacognitive approaches) can be used on all age groups, with evidence showing children as young as 5 can develop metacognitive skills. We have developed a 5Rs model for the attitudes, skills and dispositions that we need to learn to be better learners
Find out more about Learning to Learn
Develop a learning to learn programme in your school or college with our one day workshops
Register your organisation to receive information about our learning to learn activities
Download our Becoming a Better Learner Guide