In his speech Ron said
It may sound as if this [lifewidelearning] is a project concerned with individuals as individuals. It is concerned about their welfare, their needs, their possibilities, their own learning. Is this an agenda for late capitalism, in which everyone looks out for themselves - and reconstructs themselves (for a fluid world) and goes on developing themselves for themselves? Cf ‘Bowling Alone’. A solipsistic educational journey devoid of any sense of universal claims and possibilities. There is a real world – it’s not just a matter of our life-projects. It is a globalised world and a world riven with conflicts, power differentials, and ideologies. Willy-nilly, we are embedded in networks – antagonistic as they are. A challenge then [for lifewide learning] is that of bringing a (greater) concern for the world into our learning tasks.Neither self-centred nor selfish but self-less, not merely immersed in the world but engaging critically with the world - with a care for its flourishing.
My response to this is that a life with purposes that are only directed to self-development and the benfit of the individual is not a life worth living. I illustrate this through a story about the band I play in. We have been together for many years now - you might and we frequently do say we are growing old together and our jokes are about age, decrepitude and decline... but there is something magical in coming together to play music and try to get better at what we do. Except, when our practices serve no purpose other than for our own benefit we lose momentum. People make excuses and don't turn up. The secret we have discovered is to have a goal - in the form of a performance or a recording. Having a goal focuses attention and we can all work together to achieve it. Even better is to have a goal that is beyond our own immediate interests where we feel we are doing some good. A few months ago we decided to put on a charity gig to raise money for a worthy cause at our own expense in the local village hall. Then we heard about a local family trying to raise money for their child who needed treatment for a brain tumour in America. We adopted this cause and have all entered the spirit of raising money by selling tickets, recording songs for a CD which we will sell and then various activities on the night of the fund raising gig. We are also going to talk about it and the broader issue of raining money for a children's cancer charity on local radio. Over the last few months the band has been brought together and we have learnt and developed through the process. We have also started collaborating with other musicians which might open up some new opportunities for us. Undoubtedly, we have been inspired by having a purpose that is greater than our own needs and interests.