Today’s careers look nothing like they did 20 or even just 10 years ago. Like technology, the field of education evolves so fast that techniques, skills and technologies become obsolete within five to 10 years. That is why being a lifelong learner plays an important role in the educational process. It helps educators incorporate new tools and strategies into the learning process to boost their students’ learning development.
“Lifelong learning is an essential challenge for inventing the future of our societies; it is a necessity rather than a luxury to be considered … It is a mindset and a habit for people to acquire,” says Gerhard Fischer, director of the Center for LifeLong Learning and Design (L3D) at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in “Lifelong Learning is a Crucial Education Mindset.”
Educators who are lifelong learners are more successful. Here are three characteristics of lifelong learners.
- Conquer ChallengesPeople with a lifelong learning mindset treat mistakes and challenges as part of the learning process. They do not see mistakes as failures. Mistakes give them new information they can use as they continue to find ways to solve a problem or challenge. Educators never know what types of questions students will ask. Lifelong learners make learning a regular habit to adapt to changes and student actions.”By embracing a student-like mindset and learning to turn self-education into a daily habit, you can hone your current skills and develop new ones while enriching your mind,” says Paul Jun. “Then, when the time to adapt arrives, the transitions are less bumpy.”
- Innovate to Improve Learning OutcomesWhen educators take courses outside of professional development and collaborate, they discover creative teaching methods. Teachers who put their heads together to come up with innovative ideas to use in teaching achieve better student outcomes than outdated teaching methods.In “5 Common Teaching Practices I’m Kicking to the Curb,” Jennifer Gonzalez shares teaching strategies she has used, what she changed to get results faster and why she made the change. Gonzalez states these are not backed by research. Instead, she relies on experimentation and learning from experience to come up with new ways to teach and help her learners grow.
- Act as a Role Model for StudentsEducators who engage in lifelong learning set an example for their students because they practice what they teach. This, in turn, encourages their students to develop into lifelong learners. Effective educators accomplish this by sharing experiences of working through the learning process.For example, a science teacher can talk about a science project or experiment done outside of school. A math teacher doing a home improvement project can explain how measurements and calculations ensure the project succeeds.
Eastern Washington University’s online Master of Education program professors like Dr. Vincent A. Aleccia and Dr. Ann Van Wig encourage their students to be lifelong learners. EWU’s M.Ed. in Adult Education program equips students with strategies, techniques and tools to effectively teach adults, develop curriculum and manage educational programs. The M.Ed. program prepares students for these types of roles in different settings, not just in a school or university.
“I’d like my students to realize that being an accomplished classroom teacher is a career-long work in progress,” says Dr. Aleccia. “We must all be lifelong learners and open to new research and instructional practices.”
“Teaching is not a static profession,” explains Dr. Van Wig. “Educators need to constantly challenge themselves to read and try new methods.”