What are the alternatives
What are the alternatives to formal education and when might these be beneficial to a child or a young person?
At some point, around that late 60s, there came a realisation that institutionalised education may not be all that useful. In that, education disseminated in schools and colleges may not necessarily prepare the child for a career, and the real world. The standardised curriculum may not respond to the needs of every child, and hardly trains her to do anything useful. While the original impulse associated standardised education with economic growth (a clearly unfruitful relation), UNESCO soon stepped in to provide the imagination of Learning to Be, given in the Faure Report, 1972. The idea was that our narrow minded imagination of education as the activity undertake by schools and similar institutions needed to be revised. Every individual is occupied in a lifelong process of learning. Informal education was devised as a category to describe the learning that occurs as a consequence of the child moving around in the environment, the attitudes, values, and so on absorbed, even the influences of the mass media, and so on. So museums, science centres came to be seen as centres for informal learning, in so much as informal learning consists of learning undertaken according to instrinsic interests. Non-formal education came to be defined as learning conducted outside of the institutional academic context, say courses and activities geared at learning a certain skill.
Informal education, as a concept, while nebulous, is important to a child’s organic development, to help her find her own voice amongst the barrage of standardised academic courses. It helps a child to focus and develop intrinsic interests. In this, it may be a wholesome and more efficient imagination of learning as individuals learn what they want to learn better that something that they are obliged or forced to learn.