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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


DU TOIT-BRITS, Charlene  and  BLIGNAUT, Henry. Positioning self-directed continuing learning skills in twenty-first century education. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2019, vol.59, n.4, pp.512-529. ISSN 2224-7912.

Education must be recognised as an essential instrument in addressing the challenges within the twenty-first century, but it cannot exist in isolation or independently. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the demands for education and training in support of the labour markets. The knowledge-oriented nature of work requires that all individuals must be literate, take responsibility for actions (learning) and learn how to think. High demands are set for the personal skills of individuals as they are responsible for their personal development as well as for establishing their quality of life. Individuals, therefore, need more knowledge and insight, a higher consciousness of the self and a greater ability to motivate the self. High demands are made towards the interpersonal skills of individuals, including, amongst others, empathy (orientation to service delivery) and social skills (communication, conflict management, team building skills, cooperation, initiating change). In the opinion of the authors, transformative and holistic continuing or lifelong self-directed learning is vital to addressing the gap between the knowledge and skills which learners acquire at school and the knowledge and skills which are relevant in the labour market and the twenty-first century. We argue, firstly, that transformative and holistic continuing self-directed learning with its purpose and function is essential for human functioning. Secondly, the connection between transformative and holistic continuing self-directed learning and success requires a change in ways of thinking (a mindshift). Thirdly, transformative and holistic continuing self-directed learning results in successful change in the individual learner. The fourth reason which the authors provide is that transformative and holistic continuing self-directed learning is essential to becoming successful in a labour market context. In addition, we believe that transformative and holistic continuing self-directed learning involves action learning, since individuals must learn while they are thinking about issues and working on real problems to implement real solutions. It can be seen as a systematic process that builds on the experiences, knowledge and skills of individuals, while individuals must also be encouraged to question learning content, which can lead to the creation of new knowledge. The information explosion requires the education system to move from a pervasive teacher-directed approach to a more learner-centred approach to prepare school learners for the labour market and the twenty-first century. The authors support the discourse that education institutions must deliver learners who will have a high degree of self-directedness in learning and become transformed lifelong self-directed individuals who do not merely focus on the product (market) but realise the value of the learning process. Education requires a paradigm shift that includes the relevance of alternative teaching-learning strategies and methods like SDL and problem solving in which learners are functionally immersed in deep thinking and occupied with their learning. The above statement is vital to creating citizens who can think independently, creatively solve problems and assume their positions as contributing citizens of the society. According to the authors, (life-long) SDL is of great importance in filling the gap between the knowledge and skills that learners must master at school on the one hand and the knowledge and skills that are relevant for the labour market and society of the twenty-first century on the other. Education in the twenty-first century should, therefore, be recognised as an important tool for dealing with the challenges of the 21stcentury, but it cannot be used in isolation (Knowles, Holton & Swanson 2015). Thus, this study indicates that it is essential that the skills that the twenty-first century societies and workplaces demand be developed in schools. In addition, the educational needs, general objectives in the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement of South Africa (CAPS), the twenty-first century skills and the skills needed for individuals to function amidst the fourth industrial revolution should be combined in an effort to contribute to (lifelong) SDL.

Keywords : education system; learning; teacher; self-directed learning; self-directedness; learners; continuous life-long; skills; 21st century.

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