PRIORITY 3: Lifelong Professional Learning for Members of the Education Profession
The necessity for ensuring that the foundations for lifelong learning are set in place for all citizens during the compulsory years of schooling was addressed in the book The School the Community and Lifelong Learning, co-authored by Judith Chapman and David Aspin and published by Cassell in 1997. This concern has particular relevance for teacher education and the professional learning of members of the teaching profession both in Australia and overseas.
In the journal article Policy on Lifelong Learning in Australia, by Judith Chapman, Janet Gaff, Ron Toomey and David Aspin in the International Journal of Lifelong Education Volume 24 Number 2 March-April 2005 pp 99-122 an examination is made of the degree to which the concept of lifelong learning has been incorporated into the policies of the Australian Commonwealth and State Governments and Catholic and Independent school sectors, taking particular note of the relevance of the policies to teacher education. The examination draws its findings from a data base of policy documents collected from government and non-government education authorities across Australia. An analysis of these policy documents reveals that there have been considerable differences across Australia with regard to policy about lifelong learning and the extent to which lifelong learning objectives are being implemented in schools and influencing student learning.
In the article, the authors argue that after the initial attention to the concept of lifelong learning by Commonwealth Governments in the early 1970s, the re-emergence of interest in lifelong learning at national level coincided with the downturn in the Australian economy at the end of the 1980s. Lifelong learning came to be associated with the economy, and the expectation that a highly educated and skilled workforce would contribute to a more advanced and competitive economy. Globalisation, competitiveness and changes in technology and associated work practices were seen to contribute to the need for a flexible workforce with the skills necessary to change jobs regularly. Continual upgrading of skills by employees, and the development of new skills, were regarded as essential if people were to cope with rapid technological change and innovation in the workplace. During the late 1990s, this instrumental emphasis broadened from a primary concern with the contribution of lifelong learning to the nation’s economy to include the value for the economic well-being of the individual and the idea that lifelong learning contributes to the social well-being of individuals and the community through improved access and the amelioration of education disadvantage.
Analysis of policy documents showed that all Australian States demonstrate commitment to lifelong learning in their education and training policies. Some individual State Governments have identified lifelong learning as a central priority. Other States give implicit support for the concept. The adoption of policies which approve the implementation of lifelong learning principles and practices within schools has implications for the teaching workforce, and for teacher education. As with the inclusion of reference to lifelong learning in education policies, reference to lifelong learning and the teaching workforce varies between States. There is, however, in all States, an appreciation of the need to improve the quality of teaching in the classroom. There is also recognition that ongoing education for teachers is essential, with a strong commitment by the Commonwealth and State Governments and other employing authorities to the provision of ongoing lifelong professional learning which is targeted to meet the needs of schools and individual teachers.
Evidence of this Government commitment can be shown in support for the research project, “Lifelong Learning, Teachers and Teacher Education”, which was funded ($98,000) in 2001-2002 by the Commonwealth Government (DEST) under EIP program and undertaken by the Centre for Lifelong Learning at ACU. The project was directed by Professor Judith Chapman. Other members of the research team were Professor Ron Toomey, Dr Janet Gaff, Dr Jacqueline McGilp, Dr Maureen Walsh and Dr Elizabeth Warren. The study was designed to examine the policies, principles and practices that are shaping the roles and responsibilities of teachers and teacher educators as they seek to make lifelong learning a reality for all; to identify and analyse changed roles and responsibilities for teachers and teacher educators resulting from the current emphasis on lifelong learning; to project the implications for governments, employing authorities and faculties of education as they seek to enable teachers and teacher educators to make lifelong learning a reality for all. A discussion of the results of this study can be found in Chapman, J.D., Toomey, R., McGilp, E.J., Walsh, M. and Warren, E. 2003 Learning for Life: Lifelong Learning and the Education Profession. in Crowther, F (Ed), ACE Yearbook 2003 – Teachers as Leaders in a Knowledge Society”.
The lifelong professional learning needs of school leaders was also addressed in papers given in 2004 at the Conference of the Australian College of Educators and Australian Council of Education Leaders, Lifelong Professional Learning of School Leaders, Perth, WA ; and the Networked Learning Communities Annual Conference, National College of School Leadership, London, UK . This issue was also addressed in the monograph prepared by Professor Chapman, The Development, Recruitment and Retention of School Leaders Hamburg: International Academy of Education and IIEP/UNESCO (2005)