The Discursive Recontextualization of ‘Lifelong Learner’ in International Baccalaureate (IB) Continuum Schools

  • Yvonne Slough-Kuss

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


This study is focused on the discourse of ‘lifelong learner’ and how it is recontextualized by International Baccalaureate (IB) Continuum schools. Lifelong learner discourse is traced from the ‘International field’ (IF) through the ‘Pedagogic device’ (Bernstein 1990, 2000) where transnational organizations (TOs) influence educational policy. This influence arises from an ‘Official recontextualizing field’ (ORF) of policy documents and appears in the ‘Official
pedagogic discourse’ (OPD) in the IB Mission Statement, and the ‘Pedagogic recontextualizing field’ (PRF) in many IB schools. The main context of this research is based in how lifelong learner discourse appears in educational policy of TOs and the influence this has on 121 IB Continuum school guiding statements. I engaged in the Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) (Fairclough 1992, 2003) of documents, as well as, semi-structured interviews with ten Heads of IB Continuum schools. The ongoing theoretical discussion of the competing values of the IB as
‘ideological’ or ‘pragmatic’ (Hayden 2006) was established empirically in the definitions of lifelong learner. My findings suggest that the IB Mission Statement is overdue for review. Lifelong learning may have been an education buzzword in 1996 when lifelong learner first appeared in IB guiding statements. This suggests that educational terms need to be defined and words need to be chosen carefully in guiding statements. My findings also point to the potential need to ‘reword’ (Fairclough 1992, 2003) lifelong learner to lifelong learning to place emphasis
on the process of education rather than the creation of a product. Lifelong learner is recontextualized in a contradictory manner and this may support the criticism of guiding statements of international schools as not truly reflecting what they espouse (Cambridge 2003), not as a result of the intention to mislead, but rather because they have drawn on a term that may be outdated, and has unclear underpinning values.
Date of Award19 Jun 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorTristan Bunnell (Supervisor) & Rita Chawla-Duggan (Supervisor)


  • International Education
  • lifelong learning
  • International Baccalaureate
  • Transnational organisations
  • Guiding Statements

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