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Paradoxes for lifelong learning arising out of a professional formation

Gough, A.Martin (2011) Paradoxes for lifelong learning arising out of a professional formation. In: European Society for Research on the Education of Adults Life History and Biographical Research Network Conference “Human Agency and Biographical Transformations: Adult education and life paths”, 3-6 March 2011, University of Geneva, Switzerland. (Unpublished) (KAR id:27868)

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My research concern has been about the dynamics within and between content, delivery and infrastructural components (Hoskin & Anderson-Gough 2004, adapted from Silver 1998) of programmes of professional workplace learning. I use the current education and training systems within Chartered Accountancy in the UK as an illustration which both points to solutions to, and in turn raises further, problematic issues for successful professional formation in a lifelong learning framework.

To respond to the challenge posed requires enquiry into the ways in which workplace expertise may draw upon, and reconfigure, disciplinary knowledge practices. We might look first for integration at the level of content, for instance raising the profile of ethics across the formal curriculum, as the profession has tried to do in the wake of the Enron and Worldcom scandals (yet certain internal accounting strategies key in those scandals re-surfaced in the precipitation of the current global recession). Depending upon how we do this, we might anticipate certain challenges to this project then from the system of delivery. In turn, we would find infrastructural obstacles to trying to make the system of delivery more integrative.

Part of this is due to the field being transdisciplinary in the way emphasised by Gibbons et al. (1994), in that the Mode 2 knowledge component is very strong, with at the same time the profession owning the knowledge in important ways and keeping the Academy at arm’s length. There are different types of Accountancy practice, supported by respective professional institutes. The elite end of this field of knowledge enjoys in turn a peculiar relation to Accounting in higher education. The development of professional judgement and agency goes beyond “social practice” and requires expertise that transcends a disciplinary specialism to become more adaptive, i.e. transdisciplinary in a further, richer and more integrative sense.

As regards a perspective for action that we can identify for adult educators, it might appear that greater linkages across content, delivery and infrastructure between higher education and the profession would contribute to acceptable frameworks of lifelong learning. However, this is not as straightforward a solution as it may sound, as I shall explain through multiple interpretations of the training programme in this context, using variously both the three-stage model (placing its alleged obsolescence in abeyance) and the less essentialist framework for lifelong learning. Under both frameworks, the programme seems to militate against the room for manoeuvre and the development of professional agency. Under the latter, the individual agency may be stronger but transformativeness, such as it may be, is likely to be of the wrong sort.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Projects: Between Workplace & Qualification: Engineering Integrative Learning
Additional information:
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Divisions: Divisions > Directorate of Education > Centre for the Study of Higher Education
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Martin Gough
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2011 15:20 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2022 10:40 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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