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The “why” of self-directed learning is survival—your own survival as an individual, and also the survival of the human race.  Clearly, we are not talking here about something that would be nice or desirable….We are talking about a basic human competence—the ability to learn on one’s own—that has suddenly become a prerequisite for living in this new world. – Malcom Knowles, 1975

While lifelong learning and self-directed learning are not equivalent, they overlap substantially. I think the following points apply equally to both. The successful lifelong learner is someone who:


The Long Run

by Jeff Cobb

The Long Run - Learning Takes Time

I’ve been a little heavy on the research-driven posts lately, so I thought I’d throw in a personal story for this post with the hope that other lifelong learners might find some small consolation and – just possibly – inspiration in it.

So, here it is:


Image from cover of The Adult Learner, 6th Edition

It’s been years since Malcolm Knowles, considered by many to be the “father of adult learning,” articulated a set of six principles – or “assumptions,” as he put it – about how adults tend to learn differently from children. While anyone who is serious about creating and facilitating effective adult learning experiences should already be familiar with these principles, I’m willing to bet that the average adult learner, to whom they apply, has never heard of either Knowles or his assumptions. I think it is worth knowing them, though, as a way to become more conscious of and deliberate in your own learning efforts.

So, in this post I offer an overview of Knowles’ six adult learning principles reframed for use by lifelong learners.  Read more >>

15 Minutes to a Less Biased Mind

February 5, 2014

A while back I planned to write series on barriers to learning, but I was stopped in my tracks when I tried to write about what I perceive as one of the most insidious barriers: cognitive bias. I was heartened, therefore to find a study recently that suggests hope for combatting cognitive bias. What is […]

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Exercise and Learning: 5 Recent Studies Strengthen the Connection

January 27, 2014

I’ve become somewhat fanatical about the “physical” side of learning – namely, exercise, diet, and sleep. I touched on sleep in a recent post (more of that to come), so I thought I’d take exercise for a spin this time around. (And I will, of course, get to diet in the future.) Evidence has continued […]

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5 Powerful Lifelong Learning Strategies for Your Toolbox

January 21, 2014

There is a good chance that, back in the day, you were not taught the most effective ways to learn. Certainly that seems to be the case today. In a recent article in American Educator, Kent State professor John Dunlosky reports that the texts used in education schools do not really prepare teachers very well […]

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