Essay Instructions: lifelong learning plan
Please follow the mission statement or develop your own. My vision is to build a nursing home in Liberia in the next five to 10 years.
Build a small 50 bed–Nonprofit Nursing Home facility in Liberia (West Africa).The Country has no nursing home facilities. By implementing such a facility, will facilitate in prolonging life for the elderly and the disable. This is just a start.
Why are you doing this?
Develop a plan and specific steps to execute the plan in order to stay current with
developments and issues in both general management and health care administration.
The time horizon for this exercise is the next ten years (through 2019).
What is (or will be) the guiding management book that provides the basis for your understanding/approaches/actions as a manager?
What is (or will be) the guiding health care book that provides the basis for your understanding/approaches/actions in the health care arena?
GOALS: (Limit to 4-6 major goals)
In terms of your learning over the next 10 years, what specific things do you want to be different in this period that will help you stay current and on top of your field?
The specific things you will work on to help you achieve each goal.
The specific steps that you will take to achieve each strategy (relatively short- term actions)
How will you know if you are succeeding and achieving expected outcomes? How will you spot impending failure or the need to adjust either strategies or tactics?
Identify the general environment (e.g., information technology), professional and personal factors that will help/hinder your success with the plan?
Excerpt From Essay:
Essay Instructions: Request a review of the below article, and related cited sources.
Title:Juggling with time: How adults manage their time for lifelong
Source:Studies in the Education of Adults; Oct94, Vol. 26 Issue 2,
p162, 18p, 3 charts
Subject Terms:*CONTINUING education
Abstract:Focuses on time management strategies of adults engaged in
lifelong studies alongside other responsibilities and activities.
Alternation of periods of study with other activities; Combination
of study with work, marriage and family life; Withdrawal from
studies due to varied demands on time.
Full Text Word Count:7470
Database: Academic Search Premier
JUGGLING WITH TIME: HOW ADULTS MANAGE THEIR TIME FOR LIFELONG
Since the Second World War, most western, developed societies have
steadily moved away from 'front-end' educational systems -- in which
education was seen as being essentially confined to the period of
childhood -- towards broader, more flexible structures which
encourage wider and continuing participation in forms of learning
throughout adulthood. This trend began in the United States, and has
spread from there to Canada, Australasia and much of Western Europe.
It has at least two aspects: the transition from elite to mass
participation in higher levels of education (Trow, 1969, 1989), and
the development of lifelong education practices (Fordham, 1992;
While considerable thought has been given to the ideology behind
these developments, and to their implications for educational policy
(e.g. Cropley, 1980; Schuller and Megarry, 1979), less attention has
been accorded to the changes in practice implied. While employers
have often been reluctant to provide support or work release, many
educational providers seem to have assumed that new clienteles can
be fitted into their existing programmes with only marginal
adaptations. Studies of the impacts upon the students themselves
have been thin on the ground.
This paper is concerned with the place of education in adults'
lives. Its particular focus is on how adult students manage their
time so that they can continue their studies alongside their other
responsibilities and activities. Do they see themselves as lifelong
learners? How easy or difficult is it for them to pursue their
education? We will address these and related issues using evidence
gathered in our empirical studies of two large, local, contrasting
part-time degree programmes.
The remainder of the paper is in seven sections. We begin by
reviewing the idea and implications of lifelong education and
related concepts. The nature of our own research studies, and the
methodology used, is outlined. The results of these studies are then
examined in four linked sections: looking at the ownership of time,
the alternation of education with other activities, the combination
of education with other activities, and withdrawal from study.
Finally, some conclusions are drawn.
Lifelong Education: Ideal and Practice
The idea, or ideal, of lifelong education was developed at
international meetings during the 1960s in response to perceived
inadequacies in existing educational provision and practice, though
it does have earlier antecedents. In this schema, education is
viewed as continuing throughout life for everyone, rather than being
confined for the great majority to the pre-work period of childhood
and adolescence. Lifelong education was adopted as a 'master
concept' by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organisation (UNESCO) in 1970 (Lengrand, 1975, 1989; Faure and
The implications of lifelong education have been summarised by
Lifelong education, conceptualised as a means for facilitating
lifelong learning, would
last the whole life of each individual;
lead to the systematic acquisition, renewal, upgrading and
completion of knowledge, skills and attitudes, as became necessary
in response to the constantly changing conditions of modern life,
with the ultimate goal of promoting the self-fulfilment of each
be dependent for its successful implementation on people's
increasing ability and motivation to engage in self-directed
acknowledge the contribution of all available educational
influences including formal, nonformal and informal.
This approach, as can he seen, focuses on the duration of lifelong
education (the entire lifespan), the factors in life making it
necessary (change), the personal characteristics it seeks to foster
in individual people (self-directed learning, motivation, etc.), and
the comprehensiveness of the influences acknowledged as acting upon
learning (formal, nonformal and informal). (Cropley, 1980: 3-4)
Lifelong education is seen as affecting all existing educational
providers, including institutions of higher education (Knapper and
Cropley, 1985; Williams, 1977).
Permanent education, a closely related concept, was developed in the
1970s by the Council of Europe (Council of Europe, 1973, 1975). The
concept had its origins in the French notion of education
permanente. The direct translation into English carries some
unfortunate connotations, so it is not surprising that it is little
used outside francophone countries. Indeed, it is now regarded as
essentially synonymous with lifelong education.
Recurrent education was sponsored as a concept in the 1970s by a
third international organisation, the Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD, 1973). It has particular
associations with employment policy and ideas such as paid education
leave (Bengtsson, 1989). Although recurrent education has been seen
by some as a competing concept, it is now more commonly viewed as a
strategy for implementing lifelong or permanent education. Whereas
lifelong education expresses a general ideal, recurrent education
suggests an alternating pattern for practice:
The essence of the recurrent education proposition as it is
understood in this report is the distribution of education over the
lifespan of the individual in a recurring way. This means a break
with the present practice of a long, uninterrupted pre-work period
of fall-time schooling, which has been described as a 'front-end'
model. It also implies the alternation of education with other
activities, of which the principal would be work, but which might
also include leisure and retirement. One of its essential potential
outcomes is to make it possible for the individual to abandon the
unalterable education-work-leisure-retirement sequence and to enable
him to mix and alternate these activities within the limits of what
is socially possible and in accordance with his own desires and
aspirations. (Council of Europe, I 973: 7, original emphasis)
Clearly, while a good deal of progress has been made, no society has
yet achieved the kind of educational or learning system advocated by
UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the OECD: not the United States of
America, with its mass educational system built on a mix of public
support and private investment; not Sweden, with its high
participation rates and traditions of community and social
provision; certainly not the failed Soviet system. And while some of
the richer nations are much more advanced in this respect than
others, in all cases substantial proportions of the population
remain excluded, un-involved or under-involved (see, for example,
OECD, 1992; UNESCO, 1989).
There are, of course, both theoretical and practical objections to
these ideas. The former have been the subject of much discussion in
the literature, focusing on the lack of coherence, muddled meanings
and regressive nature of the concepts (e.g. Bagnall, 1990; Lawson,
1982; Wain, 1987, 1993). It is the latter with which we are more
In their expression, certainly in the earlier documents, the balance
to be changed by the introduction of lifelong education is seen as
being that between education, work and certain kinds of 'non-work',
principally leisure and retirement. The notion of alternation is
introduced in recurrent education to suggest varied patterns in
which periods of work, non-work and education might follow one
another throughout life. And the assumptions are made that adults
are, or can become, self-directed, and that this will be of benefit
to the economy and the wider society.
All of this may be challenged, particularly on the grounds that it
presents a 'male' view of life. Women are commonly involved in other
kinds of 'nonwork', such as caring for children and older people.
They also form the basis of the part-time, and low paid, labour
force. In practice, combination rather than alternation of roles may
be the only realistic option, and there will likely be limits on how
many roles can be effectively carried at any one time. And the
option to combine educational participation with work, retirement,
leisure or domestic responsibility may only be open to a limited
number of adults: those with the right background who have the
Our research has involved extensive questionnaire and interview
surveys of students on two substantial local part-time degree
programmes (Blaxter and Tight, 1993). One of these programmes is
based at our own institution, Warwick University, the other at
At the time of the survey in 1992, the Warwick University programme
offered part-time courses in three areas: Historical Studies,
Literary and Cultural Studies, and Social Studies (the programme has
since begun to expand into business, languages and technology). Of
the 274 students then enrolled, 192 (70%) completed the survey
questionnaire. This included questions on their studies, their
educational and work experience, and on their personal, social and
family situation. Eighteen respondents, selected to be
representative of age, sex and subject area, were then interviewed
in more detail about their study experience and its relation to
other aspects of their lives.
The Coventry University programme is in Business Administration, an
apparently more practical and vocationally oriented subject area
(Morris, Newman and Stringer, 1993). The programme differed from
that at Warwick in that it was also offered on a number of sites
outside Coventry, though the majority of the students were studying
at the university itself. The same questionnaire was used, but with
some additional questions specific to the institutional context. All
310 students enrolled in October 1992 were posted the questionnaire
in early 1993, and 116 (37%) responded. As in the case of the
Warwick survey, eighteen respondents were then selected for
interview on the basis of their age, sex and study location.
Though the response rate from the Coventry students is less
satisfactory than that achieved for the Warwick programme, it
probably underestimates the true response rate, as some of those
registered would have discontinued their studies or transferred to
other courses. For both surveys, the responses received appeared to
be representative of the total student body, with the student
profile suggested by registration data matching that produced from
There were significant differences in the make-up of the two student
groups in terms of gender and age. While over three-quarters, 76%,
of the Warwick students were women, the Coventry group was more
balanced, with 54% being wormer. The Warwick students were also
older as a group, averaging forty-four years at the time of the
study, compared to an average of thirty-two years for the Coventry
students. Nearly one-quarter, 23%, of the Warwick students had been
born before 1940, compared to only 1% of the Coventry students.
About half of all the respondents (48% of the Warwick students, 53%
of those at Coventry) had left school by the time they were aged
sixteen. A substantial minority (20%, 11%) possessed at least the
minimum higher education entrance requirement of two A levels when
they left school. Almost all (92%, 90%) subsequently participated in
organised learning activities, most commonly at work. Hence, by the
time they began their part-time degree studies, most of the
respondents' qualifications had been substantially broadened or
The interviews, each of which was scheduled to last for about one
hour, were loosely structured to enable the participants to talk
about their background, their participation on the degree programme,
how this fitted into their lives, and how their lives might develop
in the future. The demographic and employment characteristics of the
interviewees are summarised in Table 1. For the purposes of this
paper, the tapes and transcripts of the thirty-six interviews
carried out have been examined to assess how the interviewees
managed their time, and how they balanced their position as students
with their other roles.
A number of related themes emerged from this analysis. One was the
question of ownership: how much time was available for studying, and
whose time this was. A second theme concerned the pressures which
lead to withdrawal from study. The major issue, however, was how
educational participation related to other activities. Here two
basic strategies were identified:
--alternating or substituting educational participation for other
--combining or synchronising educational participation with other
The first of these may be linked to the idea of recurrent education,
while the second possibly represents a pragmatic, but less
satisfactory, realisation of lifelong education.
These themes will be discussed separately in turn, and then drawn
together in the conluding section.
How Much Time and Whose Time?
Time management is a critical skill for all students, particularly
those studying for part-time degrees (Blaxter and Tight, 1994). Not
surprisingly, the recent expansion of adult participation in British
higher education has been paralleled by a growth in the number of
study guides designed to assist them (e.g. Bourner and Race, 1990;
Rowntree, 1988). But these guides are only that: they do not, and
cannot release mature students from their other obligations. For all
of our interviewees, the time available for study was always
relative: both to their other responsibilities, and to their
perception of the situation of full-time students.
These other responsibilities covered a range of employment, domestic
and other roles. The interviewees included young adults in full-time
employment with no domestic commitments, middle-aged people with
both work and family roles, and the retired. They made many comments
relating to the ownership and use of time. The ideas of 'free time'
and 'one's own time' came up again and again. For example, a single
woman in her twenties in full-time employment noted that:
so far I haven't had any problems but I have free time, I haven't
got a family . . . I haven't got any outside commitments.
Some of the other younger women, and some of the men, interviewed
indicated that they were able to cope with their studies because
their employment was boring or not demanding. In these cases, study
appeared to be substituting for work as an interesting and demanding
However, most of the women we interviewed had family, personal or
work commitments which had primary importance. Their studies had to
be organised around these commitments, to the loss of most of the
wider social aspects of the student life. They often felt under
pressure to maintain their overall performance in all of their
roles. This was typically achieved by the adoption of a regular
routine, in which study was confined to 'their own time': i.e. the
period of the day when their children were at school and/or their
husband was at work. To depart from such visible efficiency was very
risky as well as impractical. Anyone who has ever tried it will know
the difficulty of studying in a household full of demanding
The comparisons made by our interviewees between their own position
and that of real or imagined full-time students are particularly
revealing. Those in full-time employment were likely to feel
something akin to envy, like this women in her twenties:
if I was full-time I think I could cope. The full-timers have got a
lot of time to do a degree . . . if [only] I had an hour to sit in
the library without having to cram all the other things in as well.
A slightly older woman expressed much the same sentiments rather
We've often talked about this sitting downstairs [in the coffee
[bar], thinking wouldn't it be lovely [to be a full-time student] .
. . and have no responsibilities. They have such a good social life
. . . we've all got commitments.
The younger, single interviewees who were supported in their studies
by their employers sometimes displayed some resentment at having to
study in their own time. One man, who had been able to fit most of
his studies in during the working day when he was a trainee, now
found things more demanding. He would spend extra time at work to
keep apace of the job and use his holiday entitlement to write
assignments. Recently, he had had to:
give at least a night at the weekend and then a night or two in the
week where normally I'm out ... the fact is that I'm giving that
night up to stay in to keep up [with study].
Older students had a different range of views. One woman in her
I think [higher education] is much more difficult [than I expected/.
I have much more respect for the students. I thought they had a lot
of time to do very little, that's how I perceived it from the
outside world. I'm actually staggered at how much they have to do
and the pressure that they're under.
Where the interviewees had children of their own engaged in
full-time study, less respectful (or more realistic) views appeared.
Thus, another woman in her forties, with three teenagers and an
invalid mother at home, confirmed the invisibility of much domestic
labour in reporting one of her children, a full-time student,
a most amazing remark. She laid [you can get good marks because]
you've got nothing else to do, but I've got to make friends and fort
my life out.
Her views were supported by another women of the same age, who said
of full-time students:
they don't have any other personal commitments. You know they can't
wait to [leave] mum for a start, and [we] still have mum,
step-children, children, husband . . .
Withdrawal from Study
Not surprisingly, given the heavy and varied demands which many of
our interviewees were having to cope with, a good number of them had
considered discontinuing their studies at some point. Others, of
course, not in our sampling frame, actually did so. Indeed, the
level of, and reasons, for such discontinuation, withdrawal, dropout
or attrition amongst part-time students forms one of the major
themes of the published literature (see, for example, Bourner and
others, 1991: chapter 8; Tight, 1991: chapter 6; Tinto, 1987;
Woodley and Parlett, 1983). From the perspective of this paper,
withdrawal, whether temporary or permanent, could be seen as an
example of the enforced alternation of study with another activity.
A number of the students we interviewed had withdrawn temporarily at
some point during their study career, or were seriously considering
doing so. One, a woman in her forties, had done so in order to care
for her parents:
Mother became ill. I dropped a year . . . it was just hopeless
trying . . . [there was] a lot of responsibility and it jest all
lands on me.
For this women, the continuation of her studies was contingent upon
her parents' health remaining stable. Another woman, in her
thirties, recounted that:
The first six weeks of last year I spent down in London looking
after both of my parents. My father was still alive, and l was on
the 'phone all the time [to the University] saying I can't come back
[to put in assignments] but I still want to . . . and I managed to
do the courses.
Health problems were not confined to the students' parents. One man
had taken a year off from studying when he had experienced problems,
and now found the support of his fellow students helpful to his
A final example illustrates the strategy of forward planning to make
space for unpredictable emergencies. This woman, in her forties, had
taken a year out from study when her voluntary work responsibilities
grew enormously in response to a national emergency. She now said:
I come across people here who are working and who have two children
. . . and l don't know how she does it. If any one thing goes wrong
in the equation . . . [if one of the children is sick] there isn't
enough room for manoeuvre, and that's one thing l think you have to
have . . . l would't like to be that committed.
Alternation or Substitution
The alternation of periods of study with periods when other
activities are stressed is at the core of the idea of recurrent
education. In practice, this usually means giving up some other
activities while studying, or effectively substituting effort as a
student for effort in other roles. We have already referred, for
example, to the incidence of bored employees focusing their efforts
Of course, anyone taking on a demanding new role, like studying for
a part-time degree, will have to cut back on some of their other
activities. This was confirmed by the responses to our questionnaire
surveys, which showed widespread reductions in the amount of time
spent participating in a range of social and leisure activities. The
most notable casualties of studying were watching television,
playing sport and visiting the pub (see Table 2). Indeed, only one
of the eight activities listed registered an overall increase
amongst the respondents. This was visiting the cinema or theatre,
for the Warwick students, and is probably associated both with the
subjects they were studying and with the presence, on-campus, of a
major arts centre.
More significantly, our interviewees included several who reported
giving up one or more of their major roles to enable them to pursue
their part-time degree studies. The roles foregone included
employment, voluntary work and leisure.
On the Warwick degree programme, which has an older age profile,
quite a few students were retired, in some cases having retired
early in order to care for their relatives. While they could not be
said to have given up employment in order to study, they were using
some of the 'free time' this gave them for that purpose. Looking
back, one of the male interviewees in this position doubted whether
he could have studied on a part-time basis while he was still
I've often thought about this and world I have wanted to. Probably
not because I was pretty well committed to work.
Two women in their forties provide further contrasting examples.
One, who had retired in order to care for her parents, turned to
study when they died as an alternative to returning to employment.
The other, who had given up her business when the lease ran out, was
able to study 'purely for pleasure'. Both women saw themselves as
becoming involved in some form of public or voluntary activity once
they had completed their degree.
One other woman in her twenties had actually resigned from her job
in order to be able to do justice to her studies, though there were
clearly also other factors involved. For her, the appointment of a
new boss in the small company where she worked had been the crisis
I was in a sort of conflict all the time . . . I suppose l like to
give a lot of my time to the things I'm doing.
On the Coventry programme, the only examples of those foregoing
employment in order to study were not so voluntary, as they were
younger and unemployed. Three of the four interviewees in this
position had their fees waived. In essence they were substituting
their studies for employment, by treating the former as a full-time
job around which they then structured their other activities.
One unemployed man in his twenties was synchronising his part-time
studies with his wife's study on a full-time degree course. He
scarely mentioned the problems of managing time, but felt sorry for
his wife who, by implication, had the main responsibility for
looking after their young children. He did not consider employment
to be compatible with studying. A single, unemployed woman in the
same age group saw herself, for the time being, as virtually a
full-time student, with plenty of time for studying. She was also
undertaking voluntary and temporary work in order to enhance her
Another unemployed man, in his thirties, was using the time to 'sort
out' his life:
Being unemployed, having so much time on my own, especially in the
daytime, has given me those hours when you can sit down and think
`What am I doing? Where am I going?'
The other unemployed interviewee, a man in his forties, was
following two other part-time courses in addition to the degree. He
also highlighted the difference between the daytime, when he could
devote himself unhindered to his studies, and the evening, when
family activities encroached.
It was mainly the women interviewees who reported giving up
voluntary work, usually temporarily, in order to make time for their
studies. Thus, one woman in her thirties reported that:
The things that have gone out of my life are I don't go to as many
meetings as I used to.
Instead, she tried to concentrate her community work into intensive
periods during the vacations. Another woman, in her forties, said:
If I wasn't doing this? I would be doing more voluntary work. I'm
getting better at saying no! which is very difficult in voluntary
work because you feel you should, but you start to get a bit more
Many interviewees reported giving up some or all of their
recreational or leisure activities in order to study. For younger or
unmarried students in employment, their studies often, in effect,
became their leisure activity. This was not so easy for those who
shared their homes with others, as it meant giving up time with
The single students often saw this substitution in a very positive
light. Thus, a woman in her thirties referred to 'giving up her own
time' in order to study, and, while noting that she had 'no
distractions' as she lived on her own, said she could `be distracted
if I want'. A single man with a boring job was able to do some
studying during the day, but viewed attending college and studying
in the evening as a refreshing alternative to television. Another
man in his thirties was less positive, however, indicating that
study had made him a 'virtual recluse' who ate very badly because he
lacked time for shopping and cooking.
A married man in his thirties succinctly summarised how such choices
were made, and in doing so used the metaphor we have adopted for our
title, and which was repeated by many of the interviewees:
I don't know whether I did give up [other activities], I think I
juggled things around so much that I made it happen. Going back to
my late twenties, I enjoyed myself [but], the time had changed. I no
longer felt the need to go out most nights of the week. I felt
secure in my own home, I felt that [study] was a better avenue . . .
[instead of] just going to work and coming home [and thinking] . . .
what to do, so I made the effort.
Combination or Synchronisation
The strategy of combining study with their other roles or activities
was more commonly used by our interviewees than the strategy of
alternation. They talked of combining study with work, marriage and
family life in varying ways.
For the younger students, the most common combination was of study
with work and marriage. One man in his twenties described three
coping strategies: `over-scheduling' his week, which was precarious
but possible because of the autonomy he had to organise his work;
synchronising his class attendance with his wife's activities
outside the home; and combining study-related activities with his
working day. The latter involved use of his car as a study space, a
strategy also employed by other students:
I occasionally arrive at a costumer's [premises] early and [do some
study while] sitting in the car park.
This student recognised that the situation was not ideal, but also
indicated his priorities in stating that:
my home life might have suffered but not my company work.
For a woman in the same age group, the coping strategy was somewhat
reversed. for both her and her husband home was, in part, a study
space, with `books and papers everywhere'. Her problems came in
combining study with work. Significantly, like the previous student,
she also made use of spare time in customers' car parks, but in her
case to unwind rather than to study:
I was very busy at work last year, and by the time I'd got the car
parked sometimes I just used to sit there and think 'I don't know
how I can go on'. I was jiggered in the middle of the day. I had to
force myself to say 'OK' and slow right down.
Now, in the second year of the degree, she felt she was coping
better. She had attended time management and assertiveness sessions,
was accepting fewer delegated duties at work, and was taking less
work home. But she felt that the combination of full-time work and
attending daytime classes was affecting her marks.
Another woman also knew study as a way of life, from when she lived
with her parents, but was having trouble adjusting to a newly
established household after marriage. She said that she 'wouldn't
know what to do' if she wasn't studying, but she now also had to
cope with the housekeeping and being 'mum number two'. The strain
had led to several accidents and illnesses. While formerly she had
felt very organised and efficient at work, she now thought of
herself as 'Miss Dizzy'.
Where the interviewees were also experiencing significant changes at
work, the position became much more complicated. As one man in his
I used to manage very well until the beginning [of the year] when
the employer began shedding staff . . . My time has been eaten up at
work, but I'm still on track . . . I used to be able to plan the
work in spare time at lunch, and stop off at the library on the way
home. But now. . .
As a result, his studies, which had formerly been 'in his time'
(i.e. within the working day), were now putting pressure on his
Similarly, an interviewee in her thirties had not only been given
new responsibilities at work, but had also recently separated from
her husband and moved house. These combined pressures were causing
her to temporarily downgrade her involvement in study:
In my section now I'm the boss you see . . . I've had to do one and
a half jobs [because of staff reallocation] . . you can't shut
yourself off and just do your own job. It won't go on for ever
obviously, but [it's] the last thing I wanted, especially now up to
exam time . . . I'm too tired when I get home at nighs so now the
time is limited.
For many of our older interviewees, study was combined with not just
work and marriage, but also with the demands of an established
family. This presented further challenges. Thus, one of our male
interviewees, in his forties, described delaying study until his
children had left home. This man also appreciated the possibilities
of alternation. He had experienced redundancy in the recent past,
and would, if it happened again, study full-time.
A number of the women we interviewed had taken a career break in
order to start a family, and were now studying and working as the
family grew up. One of these women, in her late thirties, regarded
herself as having 'two part-time jobs'. One was her employment,
which allowed flexi-time working, and the other was her children,
with whose activities she liked to be involved. She had refused
full-time employment because:
I like to be able to give 100% to all my commitments, and if I'm
pushed [to/ give more to one them the other one gaffers.
This was not always easy, however, and her account referred to being
in 'such a rush' and feeling 'guilty'.
For this woman, it was important to be in control of how she used
time, and not to have it controlled by the expectations of others.
She tried to organise her employment around the children and to
study while at work, or even to combine study with caring for the
children: 'I had one eye on the football match and one on the
revision'. Because she spent so much time chauffeuring the children
around she also, like some other students, used her car extensively
Despite her flexible working hours, and the support she received
from her mother, this woman said:
I always seem to be juggling with half a dozen balls in the air.
When asked to name the balls, she answered:
Coursework, work, family I suppose . . . I don't say enjoyment as a
separate thing, though I skim enjoyment off the top of those things
. . . the house . . .
She then gave a detailed account of all the things that had to be
done, or at least half done, on particular days of the week.
Another woman, now in her mid-forties, had followed a 'non-female'
career, and was now studying primarily for career reasons. She
related how she could no longer 'afford the time' for certain
home-based activities which she once enjoyed. She also described in
detail how the different evenings in the week were used, and how she
fitted study time into the late evenings or very early mornings on
weekdays, and into the afternoons at weekends.
Similarly, an interviewee in her thirties responded to a question
about how she coped with the demands of study by describing how
little sleep she needed, a point which was also mentioned by a
number of others. This woman went on to say:
When the children were smaller it was easier because I was clear of
them by a certain point in the evening, and l could sit down and get
started; and now they've got older the time's got later and later
and it's got much harder.
A fourth woman, in her early forties had undertaken temporary
employment and study while 'bringing up a family', and switched to a
regular job, with flexible hours, when her children went to school.
She explained how her studies could be thrown by the unanticipated
crises of family life, and by the demands of housework:
I know it's bonny but with a woman, when they go back to work, it's
still a priority they are responsible for and I can't live in a
She was now paying a friend to clean one morning a week. The support
she received from her husband and children was important to her,
particularly as her parents and some of her friends could not see
any point in studying if you had already got a job.
It is important, of course, to enter some caveats at this point.
Ours was a limited study of thirty-six adults on two local part-time
degree programmes. But the interviewees were carefully selected to
be broadly representative of the student groups from which they were
drawn. There are many other more or less similar programmes
nationally, and we have no reason to suppose that similar studies of
them would not produce similar results (though this is not to say
that they would).
It could be said that the focus on degree students was atypical, and
that part-time study is geared to the combination rather than the
alternation of life roles. Degree study is undeniably atypical, in
requiring a high level of commitment and engagement over a period of
years. But such a commitment to learning is increasingly expected of
adults, and underlies the very idea of lifelong education that we
are exploring. And, at present, most adults necessarily study
part-time, if they study at all. In most cases, they either cannot
afford, or do not wish, to study full-time (Tight, 1991).
In overall terms, thirteen of our interviewees appeared to be
alternating their roles as students with their other roles as
workers, spouses, parents or community members. The clear majority,
twenty-three of the interviewees, were effectively combining, or at
least attempting to combine, their roles as students with all of
their other responsibilities. We would not, of course, wish to push
this distinction too far: alternators and combiners are points along
a spectrum, and even the alternators were combining their studies
with some other activities. While the Warwick interviewees were
evenly split nine alternators, nine combiners - the Coventry
students, with their younger age profile, were overwhelmingly
combiners (fourteen to four).
Table 3 relates this characterisation of the students interviewed to
their employment status. It starkly illustrates the divide in role
behaviours: all of the combiners were in full-time or part-time
employment, while all but one of the alternators were unemployed or
retired. There is very little overlap, and it occurs in the area of
part-time employment, which applied to only four of our sample.
In a sense this is much what you might expect, and gets to the heart
of the distinction between full-time and part-time education. After
all, to reiterate, adults study part-time because they are unable or
unwilling to study full-time. They are largely unable, for these
reasons, to engage in anything approaching an ideal version of
recurrent education, where periods of supported full-time study
would alternate with employment, family and other responsibilities.
They have, therefore, to settle for a more demanding and stressful
pattern of lifelong education, where study is engaged in on top of
It should not be concluded, however, that this is simply because
adults are unable to get financial and other support for their
studies. Employers are increasingly recognising the benefits of
study, both specific and general, amongst their employees, and a
variety of schemes have been developed in recent years (e.g.
Chadwick, 1993). Eleven of our interviewees, just over half of those
in full-time employment, were being supported by their employers.
They had at least part of their course fees and other costs paid for
them, were given release to attend sessions during the daytime, and
in a few cases an allowance of time in which to study. These
supportive employers were not confined to a particular sector, but
included a range of public and private sector organisations.
confined to a particular sector, but included a range of public and
private sector organisations.
Yet there were clearly major tensions in most of our interviewees'
lives, and in most cases the support they received was not enough to
enable them to get as much out of their studies as (they imagined) a
typical full-time student could. They were 'juggling with time',
endeavouring to keep a range of responsibilities going in addition
to their studies. Our interview records are full of vignettes which
illustrate this juggling: reading while ironing, answering the front
door while correcting an essay draft, keeping a book behind the till
during the evening shift.
Where our interviewees' responsibilities included just one, or
perhaps two, major roles - e.g. employment, spouse, parent,
voluntary worker -in addition to their student role, they were
usually able to cope, at least for most of the time. But such coping
was likely to be undermined at any moment by an unforeseen event: a
sick child, an urgent order at work, their partner's demands. And it
imposed a continuing strain upon the individual, which severely
limited their capacity to engage with their studies.
Where their responsibilities extended to two or more major roles,
there were usually major doubts about their capacities to cope. They
were then struggling, rather than juggling, with time, and
withdrawal from study or one of their other roles seemed a probable
consequence. We can only respect their efforts, while wishing that
more could be done to support them.
Lifelong education is clearly becoming a reality in societies like
ours, but at an individual rather than a societal level. Adults are
increasingly expected, and often required, to engage in serious
study if they are to maintain or improve their employment positions
and make the best of their life chances. But this reality is coming
about without much planning, and it is being achieved by placing a
disproportionate element of the responsibility and burden upon the
individual adults themselves. They are being expected to take on the
role of student in institutions where the perception of the student
role is of someone with no other major commitments, and with little
or no reduction in their other responsibilities.
If we are to develop anything approaching a lifelong education
system, we need to give much more attention to the support of adult
students. This would include not just the funding of study, but
also, and much more importantly, the release of time from their
other responsibilities, so that they can focus effectively on their
learning without the immediate distractions of other demands.
Table 1. Interviewees' Demographic and
A: Coventry Programme B: Warwick Programme
9 men 6 men
9 women 12 women
8 in their 20s 4 in their 20s
6 in their 30s 5 in their 30s
4 in their 40s 6 in their 40s
3 in their 60s
13 in full-time employment 7 in full-time employment
1 in part-time employment 3 in part-time employment
4 unemployed 3 unemployed
9 supported by their employers 2 supported by their employers
3 with fees waived 2 supported by local authorities
6 receiving no outside support 14 receiving no outside
Table 2. Changes in Social and Leisure Participation
as a Result of Study
A: Coventry Programme
Not % Reporting
Activity Applicable Up The Same Down Balance
Visiting Cinema, Theatre 13.1 8.7 55.7 22.6 -13.9
Watching Television 0.0 1.7 27.0 71.3 -69.6
Playing Sport 15.7 9.6 31.3 43.5 -33.9
Community Service 72.2 2.6 13.9 11.3 -8.7
Children's Groups 80.9 3.5 8.7 7.0 -3.5
Pressure Groups 87.9 0.0 8.7 3.5 -3.5
Religious Groups 78.3 1.7 14.8 5.2 -3.5
Visiting the Pub 13.1 10.4 42.6 33.9 -23.5
B: Warwick Programme
Not % Reporting
Activity Applicable Up The Same Down Balance
Visiting Cinema, Theatre 10.0 22.1 52.1 15.8 +6.3
Watching Television 2.1 2.1 26.3 69.5 -67.4
Playing Sport 25.9 8.9 40.5 24.7 -15.8
Community Service 47.3 6.8 21.6 24.2 -17.4
Children's Groups 70.5 2.6 17.9 8.9 -6.3
Pressure Groups 74.7 3.7 16.3 5.3 -1.6
Religious Groups 63.2 5.3 23.2 8.4 -3.1
Visiting the Pub 36.8 5.3 35.3 22.6 -17.3
Table 3. Student Roles by Employment Status
Employed Full-time 0 20
Employed Part-time 1 3
Unemployed 7 0
Retired 5 0
Total 13 23
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LORAINE BLAXTER and MALCOLM TIGHT, Department of Continuing
Education, University of Warwick
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Source: Studies in the Education of Adults, Oct94, Vol. 26
Issue 2, p162, 18p
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