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Lifelong Action Learning: An Emerging Global Tribe

Updated on December 31, 2013

Lifelong Action Learning for Community Development is co-authored by Richard Teare and Ortrun-Zuber Skerrit. Conceptually, it brings together two global trends - action learning and lifelong learning. However, the book is very grounded and inspirational in that it tells the story of the Global University for Lifelong Learning (GULL), co-founded by Richard Teare.

Richard epitomizes what Seth Godin wrote about in his book, Tribes. He wanted to make a difference for the great majority of the world who have no access to formal education because of their location, impoverished situation, cultural constraints or the irrelevance of formal education to their existence and livelihood.

In true tribal leader fashion, Richard set about challenging the status quo. .He gathered around him like-minded people and organisations and created a movement that has spread across the world.

Richard had to firstly challenge the status quo by finding a credible alternative to formal, accredited education. Having been a Professor of Marketing in three UK universities and Global Dean for the International Management Centres Association, Richard understood the limitations of formal accredited education and the barriers to entry to what is a self-perpetuating system that monopolizes the high ground in terms of deemed, credible learning.

As Seth suggests, one thing that Leaders of Tribes do is to re-think the way things are done, especially where they lead to disadvantage. So instead of seeking accreditation for his form of education through a closed university system, Richard set about developing a system of education that was grounded in the lives of the people in villages around the world and that gained credibility, not through formal accreditation processes, but through progressive recognition and endorsement by heads of government in the countries where GULL operates - PNG, Jamaica, South Sudan, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Malaysia, Uganda, Tanzania, China and East Timor.

His action learning approach provides accessible, practical education at a number of levels - Bachelor, Masters and Doctorate. However, he has redefined the concept of "accredited" learning to include:

  • developing the whole person, not just their intellect
  • creating personal viability, including financial viability
  • building community along with personal learning
  • accrediting evidence-based learning measured in terms of the practical, personal outcomes and community outcomes achieved

In true tribal leadership form, Richard has developed the GULL community and culture through collaboration with organisations such as World Vision and Tearfund. In fact, his approach incorporates capacity building for leaders of these global organisations. So his tribe not only includes active participants in the lifelong learning process in villages and towns around the world, their mentors and the GULL regional leaders, but also heads of government and members of not-for-profit organisations working to create a better world in disadvantaged communities.

Lifelong Action Learning for Community Development is very much a story about the role of a leader, Richard Teare, in creating a tribe, The Global University for Lifelong Learning. It is inspirational and challenging - providing a true exemplar of the concept behind Seth Godin's Tribes.

Richard Teare reminds us how children learn through endless curiosity and openness to new learning. Part of the mission of GULL is to help adults in disadvantaged communities to recapture this childlike desire for lifelong learning. Richard explains that the approach of GULL is based on the proven methods of action learning which is used worldwide in many cultures and in the business, government, education and not-for-profit sectors in numerous countries.

Richard teare explains the mission of GULL and the approach to lifelong learning.

Photo Gallery

Maureen Todhunter, (Copywriter), Ron Passfield, Richard Teare (co-author) and Jo Ann Pomfrett (Proofreader) at the launch of Lifelong Action Learning.
Maureen Todhunter, (Copywriter), Ron Passfield, Richard Teare (co-author) and Jo Ann Pomfrett (Proofreader) at the launch of Lifelong Action Learning.

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