Development stages of lifelong education: a historical analysis

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An. I. Tuchkov
This article touches upon the questions of history of lifelong learning for the period from beginning of industrial revolution. Typical institutional structures which supported principles of lifelong learning are considered as a base of temporal delimitation.
Key words: history of lifelong learning, enterprises, organizations, communities.
The notion «lifelong education» contains an explicit temporal dimension. This circumstance alone increases the importance of historical analysis: throughout someone’s life, there are inevitable changes in the life of society, which are of historical character. The things happening at the beginning of someone’s lifetime refer to the end of the lifetime of someone else. Consequently, the historical aspect must be taken into consideration when studying the educational activity of an individual person. On the other hand, the notion of equal importance of temporal and spatial dimensions is deeply rooted in our conscience. When studying the history of education, they are combined within the framework of the study of the world economy (the system of education being a part of the latter). The diversity of education systems (including those beginning to develop the lifelong education system) introduces the spatial dimension into any serious research, though implicitly. However, this dimension becomes more explicit when studying the educational activity of individual people (or groups), since frequently a transition to a new level of education is related to spatial displacement. Let us consider an outline to the interconnection of temporal, spatial and institutional changes applied to protracted historical periods.
We shall start with the Industrial Revolution, which began in the majority of countries in the second half of the 19th century. This period is characterized also by the establishment of numerous educational institutions, mostly technical ones. At that time, however, these institutions could not fully perform the function of lifelong education institutions, even if there was such a necessity. The reason for this was the high degree of specialization of the knowledge and skills, required at a certain production facility. By «specialization», we mean the unique set of various knowledge and skills, whereby they can be assessed in full only within certain spatial and institutional limits. These limits can be different, from an individual workplace up to a group of companies in the same industry. However, during that historical period, a «unit» of spatial and institutional specialization was mostly a company. It is a company that often had unique equipment invented and produced by local artisans, while no educational establishment could teach anyone how to operate it. Usually, the repair was done in situ, and led to changes in operation and maintenance conditions. It should be noted that operating such equipment may be regarded as a continuous educational process. The specialization of knowledge and skills was enhanced by the necessity of interaction between various specialists, who were forced not only to exchange information, but also to solve unique problems, not described in literature. Thus, a company was a kind of
institutional structure, not only maintaining the process of education, but also acknowledging its results. This made them predecessors in a way, to the organizations implementing the principles of lifelong education. Sparsely situated companies drew their workforce from large areas, so the qualifications' mobility was combined with the territorial one.
The following, most typical period was the middle of the 20th century, when the educational functions were transferred from traditional companies to new types of organizations. We differentiate these notions according to the following criterion: the new type of organization has a more complex two-level structure, including the environment. The latter comprises other organizations (including educational), the groups of future (sometimes former) employees, improving their qualification. These organizations are more standardized, their activity is more predictable, and training can be done in educational institutions. As we can see, the new type organizations create prerequisites for lifelong education, though the system as a whole remains traditional — it is aimed at the completion and acknowledgement of education before starting work. It may be noted, that such a system of education may be described within the pattern «centre — periphery». The centre of educational activity (educational establishment) is the periphery of production activity (performed in the companies) and vice versa.
The crisis of the industrial system and large-scale production, which started in the late 20th century, has led, in addition to many negative social consequences, to a weakening of the above model, when the major functions of the education assessment were taken over by associations having a network character (for instance, employers' associations closely connected to innovation centers). Therefore, prerequisites were created for the merger of education and production, which corresponds fully to the principles of lifelong education. As for contemporary Russia, it is situated between the two periods described above: the disintegration of the industrial system was not compensated by the rise of competent associations interested in the development of lifelong education.
Translated from Russian by Znanije Central Translastions Bureas

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