What is informal education?
Informal education is style of education that diverges away from the formal structure of education. Unlike the the fixed curriculum, a finite number of exams and the emphasis on physical presence in a classroom ( the features of a formal education), informal education promotes more flexible methods of learning which involve – self learning, experiential learning, out of the box thinking and acceptance of new trends.
The history of Formal Education
Ever since the modern education system began, a majority of the human population has subscribed to that system. The reason for this bias was that the formal structure of education was more dependable, predictable and had a potential to show consistent results. This is why, the formal education system spanned every nook and corner of the civilized world. There was no second thought to whether a different style of education might be better in some way or the other. Formal education became the way to go, if you wanted to become successful in life. And more so, after the beginning of formal education, every field adopted the structure. And before we knew it, engineers, doctors, accountants, artists and even military men were being subjected to the same style of education. Despite having contrastingly different occupations, they followed the same classroom approach to everything they needed to learn.
Since the system was proving to be successful, no one ever thought to question it. And by question it, I don’t mean completely overthrowing it. I mean thinking hard and sound about whether formal education is appropriate for oneself.
Think to yourself. After you’d finished high school, you would have spent days, even months on choosing a field of learning that best fits your interest. But you never even for one second, spent time evaluating your style of learning. If you had, you would have asked yourself this question – “Formal and informal education, which of the two am I comfortable with?”
But instead we go on, without questioning the style. We dive into the water, without judging the depth.
Why is informal education a taboo?
We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented.
-Christof, ( The Truman Show – 1998)
Now since the belief in formal education has been reinforced over many generations, usually everyone instinctively chooses formal education. Why wouldn’t they? It shows success and everyone follows it. From their standpoint it is completely logical to blindly follow formal education.
And a rare few stop to logically evaluate the two styles of learning. Some of them arrive at the decision that informal education is better for them. And to those who have stepped into formal education with blind faith, choosing informal education seems completely illogical.
The fish in the water looks at the bird in the air and despises him.
That is why when someone chooses to follow the informal structure, they’re termed as crazy, lazy, and other degrading terms. And since formal education is the norm everywhere in the world, informal education has become a global taboo.
Why it is a needless taboo?
It is completely illogical to not question your style of learning. And more mindless is to choose your style of learning based on what others have done in the past. What ever style you choose should be a reflection your particular strengths and weaknesses. Your style of learning is your identity and should be chosen after proper evaluation of the alternatives.
And if after such a process, one arrives at the decision that informal education is the best for them, it is their personal choice. No one has the right to insult a person who choses to educate themselves outside the bounds of a classroom. It is their own choice. No one (Not even parents )has a right to interfere in what route of learning an individual chooses.
Snippets from my life
Exactly one year ago, I got around to evaluating whether pursuing a degree was right for me. I reached the conclusion that I wasn’t comfortable with the structure of formal education. I wanted to learn things on my own terms. My interests are highly divergent. I have a professional interest in a variety of fields such as engineering, physics, filmmaking and writing. Having such a wide scope of interest, being subjected to the a singular field of interest for half my day is uncomfortable.
And when I communicated my thoughts to my parents about me wanting to discontinue formal education, they erupted into hysteria. They called me crazy. When I said I didn’t want to be like everyone else, the asked me why the hell did I want to be different? They didn’t understand me back then, and they don’t even now.
So to them, I have this to say.
I love learning but on my own terms. I’m uncomfortable dedicating 4 years of my life to a singular interest. I want to learn everything, and I want to do that all the time. From your standpoint this might seem logical, but it isn’t. What is illogical and completely psychotic is that you yourself have never evaluated your style of learning. I pity you because you cannot see through my eyes, because you are missing out on all the sides of this world that I can see and you can’t, because you have closed your mind.
So whatever you say or do to force me into formal education, the reality won’t change – you followed the masses blindly, like mindless sheep. It was your choice. And to not live blindly is mine. I didn’t interfere in your choices, please leave me alone in mine.