The learning society has been advocated as an answer to current economic, political and social problems by a wide coalition of interests, including politicians, employers and educators. Here we critically analyse the concept as a myth; that is, as an idea which may or may not have validity, but which many people believe in. For the purpose of this analysis, the learning society is set alongside four other myths upon which it builds: those of productivity, change, lifelong education and the learning organisation. It is argued that the United Kingdom cannot currently be considered to be a learning society, nor is it likely to become one in the foreseeable future. But the idea of the learning society retains an important role as a myth, in drawing together and channelling energies in directions sought by policy-makers.