What is Informal education?
In informal education takes place in an informal set up or in an environment to which no formalities are attached. The informal education, has been in existence since time immemorial. From the first day of a child’s arrival on this planet, he starts learning so many things naturally.
Some things are learnt by him through family environment, from parents, relatives, friends and other people he comes in contact with. He starts forming his own attitude towards various things he observes, belief system, thinking patterns and even some games. He learns a number of things from his family members and other people he comes in contact with. When there was no formal education, family also used to teach skills to the children necessary to earn a living.
Even now-a-days where people can’t afford to send their children to school or even when they go to school, family occupation is also taught to them. Like, the children of farmers very soon learn the work of sowing, irrigating, harvesting etc. and the children of blacksmith are well trained in their father’s occupation. Mother teaches cooking to her daughters. With the advent of better formal systems of education and industrialization the role of family is relatively reduced. These days there is an increasing demand for specialized skills and training which family can’t provide.
It is not only family that plays a role in the child’s informal learning, there are many other social groups which play their roles like peer group, neighbors, relatives etc. Ask yourself, who taught riding a bicycle it may be your friend or some family member. Who taught you to play cricket. It must be friend. All these people help a child to learn the process of socialization.
Many situations and happening that occur around the child also help him to learn certain things. Many things occur in child’s environment daily that takes a shape of learning experience. For example, once a child drinks extreme hot tea, and feels the pain, he remembers it forever that he is not supposed to repeat such a behavior.
This is incidental learning, but since takes place informally, can be called informal education. It is important to realize that many experiences that we have incidentally may also lead to undesirable learning and hence can to be called education.
For example, suppose a child sees her mother being beaten by her father, he might also learn a negative habit of bullying. Therefore, it is important to ensure that only those experiences are included that are creating a desirable change and learning.
To take another example, a child who learns to bunk college or becomes drug addict under peer pressure, it can not be called education. There are some other agencies as well that make child learn so many things like television, radio, newspaper, magazines, books, internet, posters, hoardings etc. that make him learn so many things which help him understand the process of socialization.
Once again these agencies may also lead to undesirable learning like violence is being taught by stunt movies hence it may not always be educative.
Characteristics of Informal Education
- Informal education takes place as a result of interaction between a child and his environment.
- Informal education occurs spontaneously and is nor pplanned.
- Only desirable learning can be called informal education.
- Informal education can be purposeful or incidental.
- Informal education takes place through experience and hence has a long-lasting effect.
- There is no regular or prescribed form for occurrence of informal education. Informal education is a life-time process and goes on forever.
In nutshell, we can say that informal education takes place in a wider social set up. It does not always take place intentionally. Many a times it is incidental. It is in existence since time immemorial.
There are no specified aims and objectives it targets to achieve, but there are implicit objectives in the entire process of informal education. It is the most natural form of education. It is gradually, with increased areas of knowledge and need for specialization a need was felt for a formal set up of education. It led to the birth of formal education.