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Informal Education is a general term for education that can occur outside of a structured curriculum. Informal Education encompasses student interests within a curriculum in a regular classroom, but is not limited to that setting. It works through conversation, and the exploration and enlargement of experience. Sometimes there is a clear objective link to some broader plan, but not always. The goal is to provide learners with the tools he or she needs to eventually reach more complex material. It can refer to various forms of "alternative education, such as: "Unschooling or "homeschooling, "Autodidacticism (Self-teaching), "Youth work, and "Informal learning
Informal Education consists of accidental and purposeful ways of collaborating on new information. It can be discussion based and focuses on bridging the gaps between traditional classroom settings and life outside of the classroom.
Role of Informal Education
People interpret information differently, and therefore a structured curriculum may not allow all learners to understand the information. Informal education is less controlled than the average classroom setting, which is why informal education can be so powerful. Informal education can help individuals learn to react to and control different situations and settings. In addition, it combines social entities that are important for learning. Informal Education may be viewed as the learning that comes as a part of being involved in youth and community organizations. This type of education is a spontaneous process, which helps people to learn information in a new way. Its helps to cultivate communities, associations and relationships that make for a positive learning environment.
Characteristics of Informal Education
- Informal Education looks to create or deepen situations where people can learn, explore and enlarge experiences, and make changes.
- Provides an environment where everyone can learn together and can scaffold off of one another.
- Understanding that the activity can be based on any form of learning, the teaching does not have to be deliberate, more so implied. We give students the tools to do complex materials over time, rather than teaching the complex material and then giving the tools.
- Focuses on the social aspects of learning, and how important collaborative learning is.
- The tools students are given are tangible for the processes in which they will be applied.
- Bridges the gap between school and life.
- Allows students a choice in learning, and how to approach the material.
- Make learning accessible in every day life and in the future.
- Informal Education is driven by conversation and interacting with others.
Informal Education offers the following
- Responsiveness when interacting with the environment.
- Possibility to act freely in unknown situations.
- Possibility for an individual to learn without any obligations or restrictions.
- Allows for free choice and changes in interests.
- Ability to create ones own identity.
Informal Education tends to emphasize certain values it includes
- Work for the well being of all.
- Respect the unique value and dignity of each human being.
- Equality and justice.
- Democracy and the active involvement of people in the issues that affect their life. (Jeff and Smith 2005:95-6)
Informal Education focuses on values. There is no curriculum or guiding plan for a lot of work.
If a person masters a skill by becoming deeply engaged in solving a problem, then giving students real world issues or opportunities to solve problems in their own lives and communities would significantly motivate and help them to master new concepts. Teaching students new scientific concepts by using cultural tools could eliminate the time spent trying to figure out whether concepts are useful or not. This may motivate learners and help them to master what we teach from the start. If we applied english and grammar lessons to effectively communicate with others in the community, students would be more inclined to effectively master these concepts since they would be using them for individual or group purposes. Finally, formal schooling, unlike an informal school setting, discourages students from learning and problem solving on their own.
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