What is Informal Education?
Informal education is a type of education that doesn’t follow a rigid structure and doesn’t happen on the school premises. Informal education is mostly a parent teaching process. A few of them are, Riding a bicycle or cooking a meal. Unlike formal education, informal education is not an impeaching system where children learn more than just reading, learning, and writing. Informal education comprises any other thing that is outside the academic curriculum by any institution. Rather it comes from intuition.
To be a little textbook driven, you will find this definition of informal education everywhere: “Informal learning refers to learning that occurs away from a structured, formal classroom environment. Informal learning comes in many forms, including viewing videos, self-study, reading articles, participating in forums and chat rooms, performance support, coaching sessions, and games… Informal learning is a style of learning in which the learner sets their own goals and objectives.” If you understand the concept of informal education, you’ll realize that informal education cannot have one single definition. It is a very vast concept.
Informal education can be gained from experiences, living in a community, or social exposure. To sum up, informal education is a lifelong process in better words, and there is no definite syllabus. Its main objective is to establish communities, form relationships, and human flourishing. This type of education also originates from the interest of the children. Informal education can be viewed and interpreted in different manners.
On the one hand, informal education is something we learn from our peer group or parents. For example, our friends might encourage us to vent our feelings out to become emotionally stable, or it can be a fundamental thing such as not talking to strangers because that’s what our parents taught us. On the other hand, informal education can also be achieved from the little learning projects we set for ourselves, like learning Karate or learning classical music.
The beautiful part of informal education is, at times, it isn’t planned. The best and most profound informal education is achieved when you “Go with the flow.” A conversation can open so many gates to new learning. This means that if you explore these communications are experiences more, you may find a new interest. Informal education does not have any specific discipline or rules, so one cannot perfectly define it. Informal education is different for everyone. Sometimes the conscious effort is not involved in this form of education. For example, if a pregnant lady is standing by your side on a bus, you automatically offer your seat to her. Kindness is often not taught, but your consciousness pleads guilty if you do something rude. Basically, social education and informal education can be considered on the same grounds.
Back in the colonial period, only the wealthiest families sent their kids to school, and for the rest of the kids, informal education was the only option. Little children were made to learn cooking, cleaning, and more since a very young age.
You can learn ABCs from textbooks, but you cannot learn the values, morals, and ethics from textbooks. One can even say that informal education is the highest level of learning and has the deepest cognitive effect. Informal education is the amalgamation of passion and curiosity, which brings out a plethora of thoughts and emotions.
Characteristics of Informal education:
- No rigid structure
- No defined syllabus
- Experience learning
- Not deliberated by an Institution
Coming to the importance of Informal Education makes a human fit for a society to live in. Informal education is a mode of survival. This education is relaxed and less threatening since there are no exams to give and no invigilation over your head. Without this education, you won’t be able to find your passion and interest. Not to forget, many people have made a career out of their informal education like cooking or singing or even public speaking! This education doesn’t always come easy. Sometimes you need to put a wrong foot or make a mistake to take a lesson and learn from it.
At times you invest in a wrong opportunity and the loss of money can make you learn so many things like:
- Always analyze the opportunity.
- Do not rush your decisions.
- Money matters are serious.
One mistake, 3 takeaways. That’s how effortless informal education is. Informal education is, in fact, proven to be more efficient and effective as self-generated tasks are done in lesser time and with more interest.
Benefits of Informal Education:
- Effortless yet very essential
- Invokes passion and curiosity
- It helps maintain relationships and build communities.
- Helps you to explore and open new roads to better experiences.
- No exams or evaluation; this learning is completely yours and very personal.
Informal education may also take a negative turn, the chances are rare, but people learn stealing or snatching from their peer groups or even casually. Children can even pick up such traits from the street or cinema halls or even movies. In the words of an expert,” informal education is the process by which a person imbibe attitudes, achieves skills, cultivates values, and acquires knowledge. Informal education also includes incidental learning that can occur anywhere, like at school, at home, and streets—spontaneous learning, which can be through radio, movies, and television.
It is said that informal education can be achieved the most when you’re a toddler because once you enter the real world and get in the hustle, you come down to a 9 to 5 job where the scope to learn gets to almost zero.
This article does not intend to put formal education at any level down because it goes without saying that formal education is what makes a man elite. In fact, both of them adjust types of education and hold equal importance in one’s life.
Formal education is becoming very popular these days because the rate at which technology is evolving and changing has made this learning very relevant and convenient. The amount of information available on the internet can be accessed in a blink of an eye. Hence, it is very easy for anyone to search for any recipe, for any language, and absolutely anything. As amazing as this sounds, it can also take a very dark turn because of the dark web, leading to very negative informal learning. This is why even in informal learning, one has to be a little alert and conscious. There is a skinny line between informal learning and wrong learning.
The best part of informal learning is that you don’t need any special equipment or skills to acquire this. You only need yourself to be present at the moment and to be a little vigilant and open-minded in the conversations and the experiences you are having.
To sum up these scattered thoughts, Informal education is constant, and it is happening right now to you and me. How? Do you ask? Writing this article, I learned about many new things that I previously didn’t know about. While reading this article, you now know that you can label all your interests, hobbies, passion, and curiosity as informal learning.
So, next time when you go fishing or cook that medium-rare steak, remember that you’re cultivating and nourishing your informal education and molding yourself into a better human.
The most important takeaway from this article is that let yourself and your little ones be. You never know what opportunities and exposure you might be missing, which can lead to beautiful informal learning. Remember, informal education can take place anywhere and anytime.