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The Underlying Education Concepts

“In formulating these concepts we began with a functional view of education, in contrast to the structural and institutional approach used in most educational planning and administration. This obliged us to start our analysis with the learners and their needs, and to move only then to the question of what educational means might be most appropriate for meeting these needs.
We also began with the conviction that education can no longer be viewed as a time-bound, place-bound process confined to schools and measured by years of exposure.
These considerations led us to adopt from the beginning a concept that equates education with learning, regardless of where, how or when the learning occurs. Thus defined, education is obviously a continuing process, spanning the years from earliest infancy through adulthood and necessarily involving a great variety of methods and sources. We found it analytically useful, and generally in accord with current realities, to distinguish between three modes of education (recognizing that there is considerable overlap and interaction between them): (1) informal education, (2) formal education, and (3) non formal education.
Informal education as used here is the lifelong process by which every person acquires and accumulates knowledge, skills, attitudes and insights from daily experiences and exposure to the environment-at home, at work, at play; from the example and attitudes of family and friends; from travel, reading newspapers and books; or by listening to the radio or viewing films or television. Generally, informal education is unorganized and often unsystematic; yet it accounts for the great bulk of any person’s total lifetime learning-including that of even a highly “schooled” person.
Formal education as used here is, of course, the highly institutionalized, chronologically graded and hierarchically structured “education system,” spanning lower primary school and the upper reaches of the university.
Non formal education as used here is any organized, systematic, educational activity carried on outside the framework of the formal system to provide selected types of learning to particular subgroups in the population, adults as well as children. Thus defined, non formal education includes, for example, agricultural extension and farmer training programs, adult literacy programs, occupational skill training given outside the formal system, youth clubs with substantial educational purposes, and various community programs of instruction in health, nutrition, family planning, cooperatives, and the like.” (Coombs, p.26)

“The three basic modes of education-informal, formal and nonformal– are not watertight compartments. They overlap in places, occasionally turning up in hybrid forms. Most important, they interact with, supplement, and reinforce one another in a great variety of ways. Any nation that sets out to build a “lifelong learning system” to provide its whole population with a wide array of useful learning options at all ages would certainly make heavy use of all three of these educational modes, establishing strong links and a rational division of labor between them.” (Coombs, p.251)

Coombs, P., & Ahmed, M. (1974). Attacking rural Poverty. How non formal education can help. Baltimore: The John Hopkins: University Press.
Wiley-Blackwell Collection Great Myths of Psychology

Can standardized tests predict academic performance? Do PowerPoint presentations improve student learning? Do rewards always undermine student’s intrinsic motivation? Great Myths of Education and Learning reviews the scientific research on a number of widely-held misconceptions pertaining to learning and education, including misconceptions regarding student characteristics, how students learn, and the validity of various methods of assessment. Using empirical evidence regarding how we learn and how we know if learning has taken place, the book unravels widely-held misconceptions, many of which affect teaching practices and administrative policies.

The author focuses on some of the most important and influential myths in this area, providing an in-depth examination of each one, with a comprehensive review of the evidence contradicting each belief.

To enhance compatibility with textbooks on educational psychology, topics covered include student characteristics related to learning, views of how the learning process works, and issues related to teaching techniques and testing.

Experiential learning in informal educational settings

This special issue of the International Review of Education –Journal of Lifelong Learning
explores ways in which we can conceptualise, study and document
experiential learning in education in diverse national contexts, across varying ages, from school to university pre-service students, within multilingual and multi-religious educational settings. Taking a global perspective, this compilation includes articles from four different continents: Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America.
Its main focus is on how experiential learning interacts and functions in the contexts of both formal and informal educational settings, and on the implications which follow from our particular conceptions of experiential learning for the fields of both formal and informal education. The articles in this special issue also consider the
relevance of experiential learning in the postmodern, globalised world, especially in relation to multiculturalism, ethnic and religious diversity, as well as discussing how it can meet the needs of social justice and equity.

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