Informal education: what it is, characteristics, advantages and disadvantages

Education is a fundamental pillar because it is one of the factors that have the greatest influence on the progress and advancement of people and, therefore, of different cultures and societies. In addition to enriching culture and promoting knowledge, it also promotes a number of values. For all this and much more, education is very necessary.

We can find different types of education: formal, non-formal and informal, the latter being the one on which we will focus. Informal education would be that which takes place outside all types of traditional educational institutions and would be an alternative that offers the possibility of developing less conventional learning processes than in other types of education.

In this article we will see what informal education is and its characteristics.

    The different types of teaching

    Education as we well know is how we impart our knowledge and it involves a process of learning a range of knowledge and skills. Furthermore, education is a type of training that is used for the basic purpose of promote the development of the intellectual and moral capacities of people.

    As we mentioned earlier, there are different types of education. First of all, we can find the informal education which would be the one that develops without a structured planning and which, therefore, is based on daily life and is carried out in the less formal educational field. In this sense, one could say that this type of teaching is not the one that would appear within educational institutions or in the curricular field. On the contrary, this education develops in places of social and daily scope, being the subject who learns the active part of his own education.

    Second, formal education is that which is provided in a regulated and planned manner, in addition to being intentionally developed. This would be the most common education that can be found, since it is the one that normally develops within compulsory education establishments, from preschool to the end of secondary school.

    Finally, we can find non-formal education, i.e. that which is developed in a planned and intentional way, but outside the framework of compulsory education. In other words, non-formal education would be that which is provided in adult training centers where all kinds of courses are taught and it would also be that type of teaching of activities related to sports and leisure, among others .

    One could say then that the big difference between formal education and non-formal education is that the latter develops in the extracurricular context, being a type of education that is not completely institutionalized as if it were of a formal education which is also that which is controlled by the government of each country and is that which all children must receive until they reach a certain age (for example, in Spain, compulsory education, which is formal in nature; by law, all children must receive it and cannot leave it until at least they are 16).

    Now that we have briefly seen what the different types of education consist of, which group the different modes of education that can be found into 3 broad categories, we will explain in more detail what informal education consists of.

      What is informal education?

      Informal education would be that which is developed in non-formal educational contexts and without such structured planning as in formal education. In addition, it takes place outside of all kinds of traditional educational institutions, noting that informal education is legal in some countries. However, it is important to note that formal or informal education does not necessarily have to be chosen alone, but that both can be given together and complemented in such a way that they constitute a great enrichment in terms of learning very important knowledge. important.

      On the other hand, we could say that all the people we have received throughout our childhood and adolescence a formal education in high school and high school, we have also benefited and continue to benefit throughout our lives from the learnings that we have followed developed through different modes of informal education, as some examples we will see later.

      We could also say that in informal education we could include any type of learning that takes place outside the regulated school framework and that involves the acquisition of new knowledge, through the active participation of the subject (for example, manifesting interest in reading books that you are passionate about and read alone, take part in all kinds of cultural activities, etc.). Moreover, informal education allows the development of habits and the acquisition of skills, values ​​and the experience of enriching experiences outside the school context.

      This type of education comes with a wide variety of ways to educate and teach alternative knowledge such as the following: home schooling, outside of government-regulated educational institutions, so that training is usually conducted at home, although sometimes teaching is also included in places within nature such as mountains or even in places in the area where you live such as neighborhood centers that have been established for educational purposes. .

      On the other hand, in informal education, educators, paid or unpaid, give lessons to a wide variety of students and groups, and can be developed through community, social plans, institutions or foundations of all kinds. Here we can find some examples, such as spontaneously learning a skill, learning the value of money used in the country you live in, self-learning a series of knowledge through library books or through the reading of awareness-raising articles.

      Today we could also include in formal education this learning that the Internet gives us through different blogs or magazines of digital popularization, as through this digital journal on psychology and the related branches in which we find ourselves, as well as through videos that can be found on the net and in which a series knowledge and are online, such as reading magazines, newspapers and/or books alone, visiting museums, cinemas, theaters and even watching documentaries, etc.

        Advantages and disadvantages of informal education

        Before concluding this article and after having seen in more detail what informal education is, it is time to expose the advantages and disadvantages of informal education.

        1. Benefits of informal education

        Among the advantages of informal education, we will start by saying that it’s a more natural and even more practical way to learn sometimes, because it’s a way to learn anytime and anywhere from your daily experiences. This way of teaching does not stop, because even during the holidays you can take the opportunity to teach new things to children by going to places with nature where they can learn or by visiting places that allow enrichment cultural.

        Informal education also involves a series of activities such as personal research on a subject that has aroused some interest and this leads to the use of books, research of articles on the subject, use of different resources web or libraries, visiting places related to the topic of interest, etc.

        Another advantage of informal education is that does not require schedulesbecause it can be learned at any time of the day and also includes a wide variety of learning methods, such as watching videos, teaching by parents, relatives or anyone who knows a subject interest in learning. Even the Internet offers us a wide variety of possibilities to learn more about all kinds of topics that interest us.

        In most cases and in A large number of countries can acquire a wide variety of knowledge through the resources available to us, such as public libraries and museums and, of course, through the Internet, so that today , except in exceptional cases and depending on the country in life, there is no excuse not to start when it comes to being curious to learn about different areas of knowledge.

        2. Disadvantages of informal education

        Although in informal education, if it does not substitute for formal and/or non-formal education, one can find a wide variety of benefits; however, it is also not exempt from having certain drawbacks such as those we will talk about below.

        One of the disadvantages of informal education is that the information we get through the Internet or some media, including newspapers or magazines, they don’t always offer the most truthful information. Moreover, sometimes even this type of media tries to skew the information on a certain number of subjects, as can be the case with political news. On the other hand, information is not always sought from the appropriate sources to acquire quality knowledge on a subject of interest.

        Among the disadvantages of informal education, it can be seen that this way of learning is not useful if it is not carried out with constant discipline and good habits. And it would be of no use to us if, to give an example, we started reading a book on a subject that interests us if we are not constant while reading it and when we want to resume reading we have forgotten all that which we had read previously).

        In short, we could say that informal education, if completed in an orderly way, without interfering from one type of education with another, with formal education and even with non-formal education, can be a very useful education and will provide us with a series of very useful knowledge, even opening up a wide range of possibilities to have more knowledge on areas of knowledge that we find interesting and to which we would not have had access at school which we attended.

        Bibliographic references

        • Jordan, JA (1993). Reflections on the pedagogical consideration of “formal”, “non-formal” and “informal” education. Educational Theory, 5, pp. 139-148.
        • Rodriguez, JL (2018). Informal education, everyday life and tacit learning. Theor. ed., 30 (1), p. 259-272.
        • Sola, P. (1999). Informal education in the 20th century. Cahiers de pédagogie, 286, pp. 52-55.
        • Soto, JR & Espido, E. (1999). Formal, non-formal and informal education and the teaching function. Pedagogical innovation, 9, p. 311-323.

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