Being a Learner: A Virtue for the 21st Century

British Journal of Educational Studies 53 (3):359 - 374 (2005)
Lifelong learning is something which one does for oneself that no one else can do for one: it is a public and personal human activity, rather than private or individualistic. One of the features of the education system is the paucity of a language for learning as process and participative experience. Personalised learning requires a sense of the worth-whileness of 'being a learner' - a virtue in the 21st century. A sense of one's own worth as a person is essential to understanding one's identity as a learner. Research suggests the human capacity to learn can be understood as a form of consciousness which is characterised by particular values, attitudes and dispositions, with a lateral and a temporal connectivity. This 'consciousness' has several dimensions which are all related to becoming a person, with a learning identity. They also enable the learner to become aware of and appropriate what is of worth and map onto the sorts of core values that learning communities espouse. Awareness of self and of one's own worth as a person is a necessary condition for 'becoming a learner' and for identifying and engaging with 'what is of worth'. Furthermore, a sense of self as a learner is formed in relationship, and understood as one learns to tell one's own story, as a participant in the conversation of the learning community. Character is the way in which we refer to that quality of personhood in which there is rooted the capacity to change and learn over time.
Keywords citizenship education  virtue  personalised learning  character  lifelong learning  values  transformative learning
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