Winter 1986 // Volume 24 // Number 4 // Tools of the Trade // 4TOT2

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Lifelong Learning


Linda G. Leffel
Director of Program Development
Donaldson Brown Center for
Continuing Education
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University - Blacksburg

Sociological Perspectives on Lifelong Education and Lifelong Learning. Peter Jarvis. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia, 1986. 126 pp. paperback. (Available from Department of Adult Education, Tucker Hall, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602.)

Jarvis maintains that the theory of lifelong education has been inhibited by the conceptual confusion about the terms education and learning. The purpose of his study was to analyze learning and education from a sociological perspective.

The study leads the reader through what's sometimes a complex series of concepts dealing with learning, education, the social system, and social change. These concepts are then related to a wider social and theoretical context of a learning society.

At times, the book proves difficult reading due to the large amount of information and references condensed as background. However, the overall point and reminder that learning and education occur as part of a larger social system is clear. The sociological perspectives presented are important reminders for our conduct not only on a daily basis as educators, but also as a group of professionals concerned with national issues related to a learning society. The chapter on "Lifelong Learning in the Social Context" was especially strong in summarizing not only how we learn, but also all the sources from which we learn.

As noted earlier, I wouldn't classify the book as leisure reading because of the large amount of theory condensed in a short space. However, the study is useful in the major points it makes and certainly expands thinking in some practical ways.