The paper draws on the historical experiences of learning society and learner identities from the normative and sociological paradigms which have extensively determined how the experiences of learning have been shaped and how learning society should be constituted. In light of this, patterns of participation in learning process are engaged through a concise interplay between the course of life and their determinants.
Focusing on examination as a key factor in the official discourse of learning society, the whole concept of learning society and learner identity can comprehensively be argued within the parameters of sociological construction through theories of human capital, functionalism, symbolic, post modern among others.
Through a critical evaluation and reflection, the history of learning society as well as learner identities reveal that the underlying motivation of learning society leans on the uncalled for abstraction of economic behaviors which range from social relations to the individual learner’s participation in the lifetime process of learning.
The underlying principle of learning society and leaner identity is founded within the fundamental of the predominant interplay between social capital and cultural aspects with education. Exploring the inherent meaning of education and learning in the lives of individuals typifies a particular focus on the perpetual element of learning in the social milieu of a rapidly changing society.
Researchers contend that the social revolution towards a contemporary society is typical of globalization therefore, life long learning portend a relationship with learning society within the theoretical paradigm that will help in analyzing and evaluating the inherent meaning of education (Coffield, 2001).
The process focus on leaving learners with options of developing their own learner identities as inspired by the learning process as well as the pedagogic approaches to education. The experiences and the hitherto identities propel a situation that determine whether the learner goes back to school and learn at least something knew; because, the whole question of the learning society is to enhance the individual’s bargaining power to better their social and economic positions in life through a clear understanding of themselves.
Learning Society: A Reflection on the Influence of formal Education on Learner Identity
In a multiple deprived modern global community, learning society and learner identities facilitates a broader evaluation of maximum social utility of learning guided by the pedagogical approaches used in the social construction. As a result, learning identities become created and basing on the model of community development, participants in the community development are learners who exhibit such characteristics through a learning process. They are thus encouraged to learn irrespective of age or status; all in a bid to gain accreditation of developing their own knowledge and skills. This extensively develops their leaning identities and gives them a leeway to access other learning.
According to Alheit (1992), education as a national social institution can be argued to form part of the global structure. This means that information technology and largely the digital age forms the modern global infrastructure of education and thus, the learning society is inspired and directed by technology to impact on the experiences of a learner within the realms of education.
Maguire (2006) further asserts that as the goal of education continues to change over the years due to the element of social integration and formation of economic advantage, many individuals who had dropped out of school or similarly stopped at some level prefer to go back and begin learning. Significantly, it is obvious that from a symbolic and conflict theoretical understanding, the concept of adult education comes into play guided by the principle of skill formation in the context of a strengthened global economic competition. Arguably, increased convergence system of education has become a trend which remarkably points the difference between the traditional attitudes of education versus the modern attitudes.
The meaning of education is clearly construed in three levels which are elaborate. Firstly, learning society and learners identity is historically and sociologically explained within the efforts to understand how people use education and the resultant knowledge and skills to construct their courses in life. Secondly, the educational and learning experiences mean different phenomenon to different learners especially within the content of producing as well as forming their identities.
Finally, learning society and learner identity become the epicenter of understanding significant experiences that people have with regard to different stages in their lives. This also borders the line whether those experiences originate at work, in school, during leisure time pursuits or during adult study (Antikainen et al, 1996). Accordingly, questions such as the substance, social context and formal education form the important milestones in the learning experience.
From the traditional outlook, educators and many members of the society have believed that education is productive. This means that the effects of education are reflected in the experiences a learner goes through in the process of learning as well as after learning. In view of this, the experiences one endures in relation to education break down the universal function of education and somewhat give it a different understanding.
Hodgson (2000) postulates that the individualized learning experiences have led scholars to hypothesize several emancipatory meaning of education. Essentially, it is plausible to argue that with the existence of life long and cultural patterns of education in the society, a learning society continues to emerge thus inspiring many individuals to go back to school and learn something new based on the social or economic significance attached to the concept that is learned.
For instance, as an immigrant to the United States, there is dire need to learn English for both social communicative purposes as well as official business transactions. In light of this, although the immigrant may be an adult, he goes to learn at a mature age due to the cultural shift and social position in the society.
The trends in the educational circles necessitate the learning society. In essence, the flow of information, knowledge as well as students from across regional and national borders is a contemporary trend that can serve as a typical example of westernization as well as global diffusion of local educational products (Husen, 2004). Young (2009) further outlines that globalization is key to learning society and leaner identities.
To illustrate, it is evident that regardless of the age, status and racial backgrounds, individual members of the society tend to embrace a contemporary computer based approach of education to continue learning. Such cases are characteristic of E-learning, distant leaning as well as the emergence of virtual institutions; a factor that inspires the attitude for lifelong learning and shapes the identities of learners to reflect a more contemporary one as opposed to the historical approach towards learning. Every situation in the present society calls for problem solving, critical and creative thinking and apt communication skills and this deep feature of the globalised society steers individuals to be always on the search for education, skills and knowledge.