Flexibility has become a central concept in much policy and academic debate. Individuals, organizations and societies are all required to become more flexible so that they can participate in the ongoing processes of change involved in lifelong learning.
This book explores how the notion of a learning society has developed over recent years: the changes that have given rise to the requirement for flexibility, and the changed discourses and practices that have emerged in the education and training of adults. With the growth in interest in adults as learners, (primarily to support economic competitiveness), the closed field of adult education has now been displaced by a more open discourse of lifelong learning. This involves not only changing practices such as moving towards open and distance-based learning, but also changing workplace identities. Learning settings are therefore changing places in a number of senses: they are places in which people change; they are subject to change; and they are changing to include the home and workplace as well as more formal settings.
This book takes an unusually critical standpoint: it challenges contemporary trends, explores the uncertainties and ambivalences of the processes of change, and is suggestive of different forms of engagement with them. It will prove an important text for policy makers, workplace trainers and those working in the field of adult, further and higher education.
Richard Edwards is currently a Senior Lecturer in post compulsory education at the Open University.