Lifelong learning. A continuous transformation.

Photo by Ross Sneddon on Unsplash

In the world today, it is essential to view education as a lifelong activity. What we learn about the world at university becomes outdated within ten years of graduating. (Rosling 2019) The rate of change in today’s workplace is relentless and we need to keep upgrading ourselves to stay relevant. People have to continually attain, modify, and convey information and competencies throughout their life.(Parisi et al. 2019)

For a long time, life was split into two distinct phases, an education phase then a work phase. Today’s workplace needs demand that workers require to treat education as a lifelong activity and not something that stops when they leave school or university.

When I went to school in the 1960s, and 1970’s the education system obsessed with pushing information, facts and data at scholars. I had to learn the key facts on the development of Glasgow’s sewage system (1790-1920), the principle sock manufacturers in the midlands and serfdom in the middle ages.

Besides pushing all this information at students, there was also a big focus on teaching predetermined skills such as speaking Spanish, writing computer programs in Basic and solving Fourier transforms.

Today information, facts and data are all instantly available to me via my computers and smartphones. Computers and machines can outperform me on all those predetermined tasks I learned at school. 

At age 58, I recently completed an MSc in Operations management, and I did have to research a lot of information, facts and data as part of my studies. I also had to learn some new predetermined tasks. However, these were not fundamental learnings from my masters. My take away improved skills from my masters wherein the four C’s; critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.(Harari 2018) I benefited more from enhancing these four life skills that I did by reviewing more data.

We live in an information-rich time, where the rate of change is extremely high. In the past information and data were scant and educational institutes fixated their energies on supplying their scholars with information, facts and data. Education was focused on the first phase of life. Today education needs to be a lifelong activity concentrated on acquiring new knowledge and skills but also on developing an ability to cope with change and a mastery of the four Cs.  


Harari, Y.N. 2018. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. Random House.

Parisi, G.I., Kemker, R., Part, J.L., Kanan, C. and Wermter, S. 2019. Continual lifelong learning with neural networks: A review. Neural Networks,

Rosling, H. 2019. Factfulness. Flammarion.

One Comment

  1. Great piece Billy and I totally agree. Education should be viewed as a continuum throughout our lives. Primarily we learn from course content but most importantly we also learn from others. The insights and perspectives of others can really challenge us and our thinking. Additionally, the value of growing our network of connections from course to course cannot be underestimated.

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