Research Institute on Population and Social Policies

February 8, 2023

Lifelong learning for adults

Experiences and practices

Anna Millione e Tiziana Tesauro edited the volume published in the series "Social theory and research" published by Altravista Editions entitled "Lifelong Adult Learning, Experiences and Practices”

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According to the results of Piaac - the OECD Program for the assessment of the skills of the adult population - in Italy 27,9% of the population between 16 and 65 lacks the so-called literacy, which allow you to easily read a text on familiar topics and locate specific information. The same Program shows how, in our country, less than one adult person out of four participates in training activities - 24% compared to the OECD average of 52% - and it is almost always a population already employed who undertakes these courses to improve your professional position.

It is important to look at these data in the light of the reflections that in recent years have concerned the concepts of competence and the regulatory evolutions - European and national - which have underlined the importance of lifelong learning as a tool for promoting personal development, inclusion society and active citizenship.

But how does the discourse on lifelong learning translate into practice and which infrastructural conditions favor the emergence of such practices?

The proposal of “The lifelong learning of adults. Experiences and practices” – volume edited by Anna Milione and Tiziana Tesauro, and published by Altravista.

After a survey of the European legislative framework and the theoretical framework on lifelong learning and human development, the IRPPS researchers propose six experiences related to different fields of activity - adult education, continuing professional training, university training and digital school and university - of which they describe "the interactions between people, objects, technologies, artefacts and infrastructures".

Given the breadth of points of view and experiences reported, the volume can be a valid tool in various disciplinary and organizational fields.

Continuing professional training

Unconventional training experiences aimed at professionals can aim at different objectives.

Barbara Pentimalli talks about the training meetings that involved healthcare middle managers, carried out with the mediation of a tutor and through the sociological tools of action research, and aimed at developing skills to understand and trigger changes in their own work context.

The chapter by Tiziana Tesauro concerns the experience with care professionals in the broadest sense (medical, nursing and social assistance personnel), which describes the use of theatrical practice aimed at developing processes of reflexivity: subjects who act as if they actually find themselves in a given situation they develop skills which they can then transfer into practice.

University education

The theoretical background linking theater and education is developed in the chapter by Francesco Cappa, in which the practice, born in an academic context, of the pedagogically oriented theater laboratory and its interweaving with the approach to the methodology of training and education of adults.

Adult education

The case study presented by Anna Milione on the territorial network of the CPIA (Centre for Adult Education) of Salerno documents the growth in the demand for education of users with a migration background and explores the institutional responses - often fragile - put in place to respond to these needs.

Digital education

The chapters by Paolo Landri and Marialuisa Villani investigate the educational scenario of 2020 which, following the pandemic emergency from Covid 19, is characterized by the increase in distance learning both in school and university contexts and in the workplace. Although the pandemic has produced an acceleration of digital in the educational field, it is difficult to predict what the effects will be on the morphology of educational organizations.

Curated by Monia Torre with the scientific contribution of Anna Millione.


"In contemporary society, lifelong learning has assumed a crucial function in the construction of individual biographies, not only for professional updating and requalification, but also for promoting personal development, social inclusion and active citizenship. The extension of learning modalities from contexts formal to those not formal,a definition of key competencies, the complexification of the concept of literacy prefigures a plurality of actors, places and educational contexts.
But how does lifelong learning translate into practice? Through what experiences? To what extent these experiences? To what extent can these experiences be transferable? What are the infrastructural conditions that favor the development of lifelong learning practices?

The volume tries to give answers to these questions by documenting some practical experiences in different contexts (school, university, social and health)"

Contributors to the volume: Anna Millione, Barbara Pentimalli, Tiziana Tesauro, Francesco Cappa, Paolo Landri e Marialuisa Villani