Lifelong Learning = 60 Year Curriculum

Continually, we hear that as we move from an industrial world to a networked and connected world, the world of work and life will look very different for the students for whom we currently teach. So what does this world look like? Well, there is the theory that when a five year old starts school, it may just be the start of a 60 year curriculum. It means:

  • “Teenagers need to prepare for a future of multiple careers spanning six decades, plus retirement…our children and students face a future of multiple careers, not just evolving jobs.”
  • “Educators are faced with the challenge of preparing young people for unceasing reinvention to take on many roles in the workplace, as well as for careers that do not yet exist.”
  • A 2017 report commissioned by Pearson and conducted by the UK-based innovation foundation Nesta, “describes a future—a little more than a decade away—that is quite different from the present: a workplace strongly shaped by globalization, data-intensive decision making, advances in digital tools and media, and artificial intelligence.”
  • … “education’s role must be long-term capacity building—enhancing students’ interpersonal and intrapersonal skills for a lifetime of flexible adaptation and creative innovation.” The St Luke’s 6 Pillars of Learning are a starting point.
  • Education must also advance beyond preparation for work. Education must “prepare students to think deeply in an informed way, and to prepare them to be thoughtful citizens and decent human beings” Harvard Educational Review.


A question, “What are the organizational and societal mechanisms by which people can reskill later in their lives, when they do not have the time or resources for a full-time academic experience that results in a degree or certificate?”

a 60 year curriculum might look like... “providing a lifelong commitment to alumni that includes periodic opportunities to reskill through services offered by the institution; microcredentials, minimester classes, and credit for accomplishments in life; personalized advising and coaching as new challenges and opportunities emerge; and blended learning experiences with distributed worldwide availability.”

Our biggest challenge? “… the institutional emphasis in these models shifts to skill and competency acquisition rather than disciplinary topics and knowledge communication—the student’s goal is to develop a suite of skills and strategic attitudes to make a difference in the world, rather than just attain formal academic certifications to meet the immediate requirements of a particular occupational role.” So why just the HSC? Why just an ATAR? Why not do away with both?

The biggest barrier we face “is unlearning. We have to let go of deeply held, emotionally valued identities in service of transformational change to a different, more effective set of behaviors”… “transforming from degrees certified by seat time and standardized tests to credentials certified by proficiency on competency-based measures).”

The 60 year curriculum clearly points out that current schooling and tertiary education models are not serving future societal needs for all to be lifelong learners. This aligns with thinking provided to St Luke’s Catholic College when visiting Stephen Harris, Learlife Barcelona in January of 2020.

Image 14-6-20 at 5.10 pm (1)
Source: Stephen Harris, Learnlife.


Image 14-6-20 at 5.10 pm
Source: Stephen Harris, Learnlife.

Most notably, the change is clearly visualised for all to see. The shift will be from the three notable learning transitions of primary, secondary and tertiary learning (in pink), to an elevated and consistent level of learning over a 60-70-80 life span which, quite rightly, acknowledges early learning. Bravo!

Greg Miller – 14 June, 2020.