Learning - Permanent or Temporary?

By ACS Distance Education on February 26, 2024 in Careers, Education, Jobs Success & Psychology | comments

When you study, do you really understand what you are doing?  Do you really want to learn, or are you just looking to pass exams or collect qualifications.

Some courses are focussed on learning; others are more about the qualifications.  Know what you really want and need before you start studying.

Benefits of learning, education and training can diminish over time. Education experts suggest the shelf life of education is now just five years.

We all understand that food becomes unfit for use once the shelf life expires; but what about education? There can be a long term benefit in study, but only if we approach education with our eyes wide open.

Why Study in the First Place?

After school, many of us carrying on studying. This can be college, university, online studying, workshops and training courses.

What motivates adolescents to carry on studying after school? 

  • Social pressures. There is a social expectation that young people will carry on studying at college or university after they leave school.
  • Peer pressure to go to university, to gain the “university experience.” 
  • Family pressures to do well and carrying on studying to improve their job opportunities.

Education and studying is not just about young people anymore. Adults continue learning throughout their lifetimes due to the recognition of the importance of lifelong learning.  Education at school, college or university is a foundation now, not a lifelong ticket and the end of their studying. Adults may continue studying for a range of reasons too -

  • A passion for the subject – They have a thirst for knowledge, a need to know more.
  • A practical need to know more about a subject 
  • To improve their skills
  • To gain a qualification

Shelf Life

If we don’t continue learning throughout our lifetimes, then our knowledge and skills will fade, but some things more than others.

But what do we actually mean by learning here? Learning is not just studying or taking courses.  Learning is an ongoing process that leads to change.  The more we learn, the more we understand about a particular topic, but also the world around us.

Why do we need to continue to learn?

  • Research suggests people find difficulty moving from one industry to another. As an industry declines, workers in that industry may find it hard to move on to another new job or industry without retraining.
  • People leave jobs for various reasons, e.g. childcare, caring responsibilities, redundancy or illness. They then find they need to update their education and skills.
  • The world is rapidly changing. Technology changes daily.  Attitudes and social norms change.  Even language and terminology changes. Study is essential to remain up to date.  
  • Job market change can make further learning essential. New tools, equipment and technology are being implemented into jobs and services at a rapid rate. Think of how AI is being implemented into many careers today.
  • Continuing to study demonstrates a growth mindset. Someone who isn’t striving to keep learning is demonstrating a fixed mindset, and that makes them less attractive to employers. Employers want to see that their employees are willing to change, to learn and to move with the times.

Learning is not just about taking courses and studying though. Throughout our lives, we continue to learn in many different ways –

  • By reading
  • Watching documentaries and programmes
  • Talking to other people, listening to their stories, their experiences and what they know.
  • Starting hobbies. Hobbies can develop new skills, which may be relevant at work, but also our lives in general. For example, starting a new hobby baking cakes could open up potential for a new business, or help us to develop new skills, such as patience, measuring, precision and more.

Lifelong learning is therefore essential to avoid our qualifications being well past their sell-by date, but many adults are put off full-time learning due to the financial implications to them and their family. 

Learning something then moving on and never revisiting it is not useful learning.  Say we take a course in artificial intelligence, find it interesting, but then move on. We do not use it in our working or personal life, we do not really pay attention to it again. Then what was the point of taking the course?

With any learning, we need to revisit it to continue to learn and develop. For example –

  • Continuing to read and learn about the topic we studied.
  • Perhaps go back to the course and reread the notes we had or made.
  • Practising the skills we developed in a course.
  • Join relevant clubs or organisations.
  • Do voluntary work that makes use of our learning.
  • Use it in our work.

For Learning to be really useful, we need to review, update and reinforce what we learn.

When it comes to learning Use it or loose it - and the best way to learn in the first instance is to use it. 

If you want to keep learning and don’t know where to begin, talk to us.
We offer a free course counselling service where you can connect with an expert who understand the process of learning and once they understand you and your needs, they can help you forge a way forward; whether through formal study, networking, work experience or a combination of these things.