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Thinking and re-thinking

James M. Lang, an associate professor of English and director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Assumption College, questions the use of the popular term “lifelong learning” in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Advice section.

The author believes all human beings with working brains are lifelong learners, and takes on [the over-use of] “lifelong learning”, which, in his words, “accomplishes little and means less”.

Posting this does not mean I am totally for the author’s opinion, after all, motivating and educating lifelong learner is our ultimate goal. We ought to be open-minded. Reading different viewpoints helps us think and rethink and act upon our own mission.

One of the comments, presumably coming from a librarian, views our current practice in library instruction is “anti-lifelong-learning” due to its passive, course-driven nature, e.g. teaching the database that the faculty insists on. S/He went on to suggest that we should teach some true information literacy contents such as how to search Google and Google Scholar. (I would add open access databases for the same reason.) For this, I am totally for.

Here is the article link:

Enough with the ‘Lifelong Learning’ Already

by James M. Lang



  1. I have no problem with the phrase, per se. The author uses the example of his kids learning a new game, but fails to note that more complex learning that might require one to become even more frustrated than his mother was. Complex, non-intuitive learning often requires people to seek out some instruction (through a formalized class or just reading the directions.) Not everyone actually knows how to assess when they need to do seek out instruction, the next step for how to access that information, or how to follow through with availing themselves of instruction in any of it’s many forms. So “lifelong learning” (take a shot!) may be overused, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid concept.

  2. Dear friends;

    As well stated by Di Su, “Reading different viewpoints helps us think and rethink and act upon our own mission.” I absolutely agree with this. It is different perspectives and approaches which makes dialogue meaningful! Education is full of contradictory phrases and approaches. However, I feel the contradictions is what allows a professional educator to have a diverse set of tools for us to apply on our teaching.

    It reminds me of an article an discussion I shared with my colleagues at BCC:

    The article entitled: Putting the Students on a Path to Learning: The Case for Fully Guided Instruction, published on AFT- American Educator on its last spring issue is an example of a diverse viewpoint.


    The articles makes the case, that the approach that continues to be championed for years, Inquiry-Based Learning or partially guided instruction or lessons designed with minimal teaching support is not supported by the evidence on how people learn and how best to teach students learning a new topic.

    In many ways the article makes the point that teachers should teach, and that this may mean guiding the students in the learning process, in particular as it relates when learning new concepts.

    Different viewpoints and discussions are great!

    Thanks for sharing,

    Jesύs E. Sanabria
    Assistant Professor-Librarian
    Bronx Community Library
    North Hall and Library

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