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ERIC Number: EJ899946
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Feb
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0955-2308
It's the Journey that Really Matters
Dainton, Sheila
Adults Learning, v21 n6 p28-29 Feb 2010
Right now, accountability is the elephant in the room for many engaged in lifelong learning. It is difficult to find fault with the persuasive, evidence-based case for promoting lifelong learning so lucidly articulated in the main report of the Inquiry into the Future for Lifelong Learning. "Learning Through Life" deftly combines rigorous and intelligent analysis with pragmatic, bold proposals. While the report devotes a chapter to developing a broad and flexible system of accreditation for post-compulsory learning, it barely touches on the thorny question of assessing "informal" adult education. A handful of recent examples suggest that, in the name of accountability, we risk heading down a dangerously narrow road. We might be ticking the right boxes, but in so doing we risk missing the point of a rich, liberal 'education' (and not just 'learning') in a wider, endlessly interesting and shared world. Accountability is important, particularly when provision is publicly funded. How can we help build the 'intelligent system' to which Tom Schuller and his colleagues aspire in "Learning Through Life"? First, we should start with the students. Whatever the formal measures in place, it is students themselves who are the final arbiters of quality. Second, we need to put the brakes on and ask if summative assessments, or 'little tests', are the best use of scarce time and resources in promoting lifelong learning. Students need to know where they are, where they are going and how to get from one place to the other. This does not mean frequent testing but it can involve frequent discussion with their tutors and fellow students. At best, formative assessment has the potential to transform learning. The challenge for the future is to find effective ways of embedding formative assessment into the pedagogy of lifelong learning. If not, we risk shoe-horning lifelong learning into a reductionist accountability system-and a series of 'little tests'.
National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. Renaissance House, 20 Princess Road West, Leicester, LE1 6TP, UK. Tel: +44-1162-044200; Fax: +44-1162-044262; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A