Learning has been one fundamental aspect of human progress and well-being. From a Deweyan perspective, learning is deemed as a significant phenomenon in life embedded in everyday human action and interaction with the immediate context within which the individual is situated. While learning in life might be a universal phenomenon across all humans, the manifestations of such learning might vary across different cultures and societies around the world. The diverse socio-cultural practices in different societies, and the learning that emerges through such everyday practice have important implications for shaping the quality of life of individuals. Such learning that takes place all throughout life through everyday lived experiences is deemed as ‘everyday learning’. Such everyday learning of individuals and communities and plays a key role in their making and in performance. Academic discourses of learning and philosophical theorizations of learning have begun to acknowledge such everyday life learning from the everyday experiences. Yet, formal education systems across the world hardly recognize such learning as a valid form of learning. Moreover, globally this has been less prioritized in academic forums, discussions and debates. As such, our understanding on different aspects of everyday learning is very limited and needs to be enhanced.
Learning is a socio-cultural process deeply connected to life and living. However, present day education has largely ignored this aspect of learning and has thus become more acultural, de-contextualized, and homogenized in its fundamental characteristic across the globe. As such, learning needs to be reoriented as a socio-cultural and contextual process and the discourse of everyday learning could provide a viable means for this. When we focus on everyday aspect of learning, we will be focusing on the context of the learning, more specifically on the socio-cultural context of learning. Hence, discourses need to be built around different aspects of everyday learning and its role in improving life quality. Questions like how, who, why, where, when of everyday learning need to be discussed and their relationships with other social, cultural, political, and economic processes need to be understood and theorized.
The idea of everyday learning is broader than the idea of informal learning in the sense that informal learning focuses only on informal context of learning, everyday learning is to understand that learning can take place in informal, formal, and non-formal settings as well. Metaphorically, life itself is an example of everyday learning. So, while the idea of informal, formal, and non-formal learning emphasizes on the design aspect, everyday learning focuses on the context of the learning. Hence, conceptualizing ‘context’ becomes an important theoretical concern in building the understanding of everyday learning. As we live in our everyday lives, we learn about our life in an everyday context and this goes on in a life-long process.
Learning processes and their outcomes might be different in different times and contexts and could take place in different ways for different groups of people/individuals. Following Jarvis (2012), wherever we live with socio cultural artifacts everyday learning takes place. This way, everyday learning could be seen as a conscious or subconscious, or planned or unplanned process or event. It is also important to acknowledge the different identities of the individuals and their respective agencies derived from such identities in their everyday life course that may shape their potential learning through everyday life experiences (Biesta et al, 2011).How does the socio-cultural identity of a being in society and history of that being shape their everyday learning? If one is to understand everyday learning embedded in human action and interactions, then identity and agency become important considerations in exploring the everyday learning. In the changing political contexts, the discourses on the everyday life learning and discovering the ways of learning of various ethnic communities and historically marginalized groups have been created recently. The life-long learning is possible and strong if we acknowledge the everyday ways of learning in the political spheres as well.
All these provide a strong case for bringing comparative perspective in understanding the aspects of everyday learning. This would help us to explore in what ways people at different places develop their learning cultures, how learning takes place in a particular way and how different people use their learning in their everyday contexts. Comparative perspectives are particularly important here as they enable us to look into the aspects of everyday learning and their roles in life quality in a cross-cultural manner. Such perspectives help us in deepening our understandings, thereby analyzing the underlying assumptions of the complex social web. Hence, everyday learning could be a pertinent theme for the CESA conference.
The proposed theme for the CESA biennial conference for 2020 responds to life events in a living manner – learning the learning process is learning about life. This makes that discussing the learning in an everyday life context is exploring the concerns of life and its quality. In this respect, this conference tries to bring the important role everyday learning has been playing in improving the life-quality of people into the limelight. It could further be argued that recognizing and strengthening everyday learning could be an important strategy to transform our learning practices. However, like everyday life, everyday thinking too is heterogeneous and functions the everyday living invariantly (Heller, 1984, p. 49). These concerns have largely remained an un-researched or less researched subject, especially in Asia. The conference will thus focus on everyday learning practices to explore and to interpret the changes of peoples’ quality of life. It is also important to see everyday learning in the context of formal learning as well. How the idea of everyday learning complements or contributes to formal, non-formal learning or the relationship between formal learning and everyday learning would be an important area of discourse that we could expect the conference will contribute to build.
Everyday learning builds on the exploration of the particular and individual features of life quality of individual and community. These features are relatively fluctuating in the socio-cultural context but help to create meaning to understand the ways of knowing, doing, being and becoming of people through life. At the same time, everyday life emerges through the constant internalization of experiences and perceptions; everyday thinking remains a ‘heterogeneous amalgam’ that is totally inseparable from praxis, imbued with needs, perceptions, and feelings, and everyday knowledge (Sheringham, 2006, p. 36).In this line, such everyday learning may empower us to look at the heterogeneous amalgam of the human being, their learning and its purpose.
Finally, in recent times there have been increasing efforts to generate counter discourses to address the overwhelming dominance of neoliberal perspectives in all aspects of education. There have been re-examination and re-explorations of the humanistic ideals that shape the discourse of education, learning, and human experience. As a result, there has been emergence of alternative perspectives of New Humanism and Post-humanism that have opened up new dialogues and questions about learning and human experience. Such new perspectives offer new understandings of what it means to be human in today’s world emphasizing on the plurality and interconnectedness of human experience, with one another and the broader world. This is particularly important as we explore and seek to enhance our understandings of everyday learning.
Heller, A. (1984).Everyday life. London: Routledge&Kegan Paul.
Sheringham, M. (2006). Everyday life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
 Jarvis, P. (2012). Learning from everyday life. HSSRP, 1, 1-20.
Biesta, G., Field, J., Hodkinson, P., Macleod, F. J., & Goodson, I. F. (2011). Improving learning through the lifecourse: Learning lives. Abingdon: Routledge.