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New issue of the International Review of Education

The right kind of attention: Learning, love and resistance


The six articles in the new issue of the International Review of Education – Journal of Lifelong Learning (IRE) demonstrate the value of a learner-led, collaborative and inclusive approach to lifelong learning and adult education that takes the views and experiences of learners seriously and considers the needs of the most neglected, marginalised and vulnerable groups. 

The articles range geographically from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe and Southeast Asia. Topics covered include: African refugees struggling to join higher education in Egypt; rural Zambian mothers benefiting from a phone-based literacy game; the effects of pandemic-related lockdowns on the personal time management of secondary school students in Germany; and the learning experience of university students in Viet Nam; improving the quality of education for Indigenous Batek children in Malaysia; and teacher trainers’ lifelong learning competencies and learning strategies in Myanmar.

The Editor’s introduction considers the role of lifelong learning in deepening our attention to the most vulnerable and marginalized people and enabling us to recognise that our perceptions are shaped by layers of privilege and prejudice that prevent us seeing people as human beings.

Reflecting on the work of French philosopher and activist Simone Weil, the Editor notes that ‘to see the hardship or “affliction” faced by others and understand it we need to see them not instrumentally, as things or as means to an end (what they are to us), but as a person in their own right, as they actually are’.

Considering the implications of Weil’s view for education, he notes that the ‘classroom … must become “a community of inquiry” in which learners are encouraged to be cooperative, empathetic, open, questioning and reflective and teachers are attentive to their students and do not try to force their own preconceptions and supposed “right” answers upon them’.

Weil, he writes, demonstrates ‘the importance of not looking away’, of confronting the suffering of others and its causes, and refusing to be ‘accomplices’. Weilian attention, he writes, ‘means recognising that we are all, in virtue of our shared humanity and interconnectedness, involved. We are all responsible, to the extent that we can, through out words or actions, make a difference’.

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