Lifelong Learning Begins with Self Awareness and Reflection

In my first PIDP (3100) course I wrote a seven page paper on Lifelong learning. In that paper I examined the difference between lifelong learning and school long learning (Helterbran, 2005). It explores how learning is becoming a commodity that employers and the government are encouraging in order to promote the economy of the country. I discuss the risks of making education a commodity rather than learning occurring for the mere sake of learning (Rubenson, 2011). We must value learning not only for its outcomes but for its important internal processes. Learning is often invisible but this invisible learning is often the most transformative.

If we look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self actualization is at the top of the pyramid. I believe that in order to realize one’s potential as a professional that one must be a lifelong learner. In order to be an effective lifelong learner one must engage in a continuous self reflective practice to help guide the learning. Self awareness is critical to the reflective process. I must know how I am interfacing with my students and what biases and assumptions I bring to the table. If I am self aware, I can engage in self reflection and then I am able to effectively self regulate my learning. People “who enjoy learning often become lifelong learners and are able to self-regulate their own life path and educational endeavours in manners that keep them both highly engaged and highly productive” (Sibthorp, 2011, p. 388). For example if I am teaching a class on chest tubes and I am self aware enough to notice my discomfort teaching this skill, I can then engage in some critical reflection as to where this discomfort comes from. I can then identify that this comes from a lack of hands on experience with this skill and I can devise an action plan to gain more experience and knowledge in this skill. I can self regulate my learning by implementing my plan of action and then evaluating its effectiveness. An action plan may be that I choose to spend some time on a unit where there are many chest tubes, or work through this skill with a highly skilled nurse in this area. After seeking this extra learning, I can then ask myself if I am now more knowledgeable and competent to teach this skill. Again this requires some self awareness of how confident I feel now versus how I felt before I engaged in this learning action plan. I found a diagram that outlines this process I speak of.

Self Awarness Reflection Feedback loop,

Imaged retrieved from: Jurial, M. (2016). Cognitive Behaviour Approach and Self Regulation.  Retrieved from

We bring our experience and knowledge to the table, as the teacher I am the actor. I engage in a behavior (i.e. I teach a concept), as I teach it I remain self aware as I monitor and assess how that behavior (how I taught that concept) is received from my audience (the students) and then I respond accordingly (reflection in action) and afterwards I then critically reflect on that action and then internalize that as new learning. This process is an important one in order to be a truly reflective practitioner and lifelong learner.


Helterbran, V. R. (2005). Lifelong or school-long learning. Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 78(6), 261-263.

Rubenson, K. (2011). Lifelong learning: between humanism and global capitalism. In P. Jarvis, The Routledge International Handbook of Lifelong Learning (pp. 411-422). New York: Routledge.

Sibthorp, J., Schumann, S., Gookin, J., Baynes, S., Paisley, K. & Rathunde, K. (2011). Experiential education and lifelong learning: Examining optimal engagement in college students. Journal of Experiential Education, 33(4), 388-392.


About turnera2014

I am a Nursing (RN) Instructor taking the Professional Instructor Diploma Program at Vancouver Community College in hopes to challenge my current teaching modalities and inspire me to be the best teacher I can be.
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