From the Learning Organization to Learning Communities toward a Learning Society
The impetus for this monograph is the profound transformation that communities and societies are undergoing. It explores a common assumption: that education must be made an open, interconnected chain of learning opportunities available to people from cradle to grave, what some are calling a learning society. The paper attempts to answer the questions: How do these social units collectively learn? And how can adult educators work with these social units to enhance their learning? Learning is examined in three distinct, but interrelated, domains: the domain of work, both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations where people work for a living, where they earn their money, where they are ""employed""; the domain of the community, groups organized for leisure, personal goals, and interpersonal relationships; and the domain of politics, especially Western post-welfare states that are searching for effective solutions for governing the state, protecting the social environment, keeping peace, and combating poverty. The focus is on four key elements of the learning process: collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.
Victoria Marsick explores the concept of the learning organization, looking at the organizational learning process and ways to facilitate learning for the organization as a system and for individuals in the system. Jeanne Bitterman takes up the larger entity of the learning community. She uses such theories and models as social learning, situated cognition, and communities of practice to describe ways to develop group learning and communicative competence. The potential of the learning society is examined by Ruud van der Veen, who describes changes in the domain of politics and the learning of political systems. He addresses the role of adult educators in helping citizens learn how to take effective political action. The final chapter draws conclusions about the nature of collective learning and raises questions for future research and practice.
Information on the topics in this paper may be found in the ERIC database using the following descriptors: Adult Education, Adult Learning, Community Change, Learning Theories, Organizations (Groups), Politics, and the identifiers Learning Organizations, Learning Communities, and Learning Society.
Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education