The purpose of this article is to clarify the epistemological basis of self-regulated learning. The authors note that learning to learn, a term that has pervaded education policy at EU and national levels in recent years is often conflated with self-regulated learning. As a result, there has been insufficient attention paid to learning as social performance and to a more nuanced conceptualisation of agency. A review of the literature on self-regulated learning suggests that self-regulated learning is behaviour that is oriented towards the optimal execution of predefined tasks. The authors suggest that the consequences of this are a resolute focus on the individual learner and a striking denial of learning as social performance. They trace the origins of self-regulated learning to ad-hoc combinations of behaviourism and cognitive psychology and explore the consequences of this for the way in which learning to learn is conceptualized. They argue that a reflexive social epistemology is a necessary counterweight to the systematic neglect of learning as a social process that has resulted from the psychological turn in learning theory.