The Difference Between Formal and Informal Education
Education is the systematic process of providing knowledge, skills, social norms, values, beliefs, and practices to people so that they can develop into socially acceptable members of society. Education is a process of development; it never ends. Education does not exist in a vacuum without the contribution of parents, teachers and peers. The concept of education is commonly understood to be based on liberal arts curricula that emphasizes creativity, social intelligence, imagination and innate abilities rather than formal education. However, this narrow definition does not define what is meant by education.
In education, different approaches are taken by educators based on different criteria. An education is said to be formal when it involves the distribution of qualified information to students for learning. On the other hand, an education is said to be informal if it entails the free exchange of ideas, experiences, and learned information with little or no structured curriculum and is characterized by an active and responsive learning process. Non-formal education includes training in community work, informal vocational education, and life coaching.
Learning Process The learning process may be either formal or non-formal depending upon the medium chosen. In formal education, the learning process is a disciplined, controlled process, guided by established processes and standards of academic achievement, growth, and progress. Formal education involves academic study and the evaluation of learners in relation to the content, learning objectives, pedagogical methods and support services offered. Such processes include grading, feedback, evaluation and reinforcement.
Informal education on the other hand, refers to the use of various non-formal methods as a source of information or as a support tool for learning. It is mostly used by parents, teachers, and individuals who have an interest in imparting information, sharing experience, and developing social media skills. Examples of informal education tools include video, audio clips, podcasts, videos, blogging, and web logs.
In informal education, the learning process relies heavily on a free flow of ideas, inputs, reactions, and experiences from the participants. However, in formal education, there is a greater emphasis on the formal classroom environment. This is where knowledge is analyzed, evaluated, controlled, and passed on to designated recipients according to established criteria. An important part of informal education is active participation by the learners, as they are given the responsibility to initiate and review their own experiences and take part in discussions with other learners. Informal education also requires the continuous evaluation and modification of the existing curriculum and coursework, as changes may occur over time. Hence, the learners and their instructors are working in tandem to ensure that the learning process remains consistent with the school’s requirements.
Concluding, education refers to the process of acquiring knowledge by viewing, listening, and applying it. An education curriculum, which may be formal or informal, aims at educating students to develop appropriate intellectual, social, linguistic, emotional, and personal characteristics. Education is crucial for everyone. It helps to nurture a sense of social responsibility in individuals and encourages them to become socially competent, professionally successful, and connected with their communities. Education helps people to realize their full potential and become the best that they can be.