Formal versus informal learning, part 1 of 2


The term formal learning suggests a number of key characteristics, such as: 

  • Structure, objectives and a curriculum
  • It is centered around the teacher-student relationship
  • And it is intentional, in that the learning leads to a formal qualification of some description

However formal learning is also very much linked to the process of education, where society decides which knowledge, skills and values it wants the next generation to know. There is a sense perhaps that it is about the past and what past generations have learnt and thought valuable to know.

Many societies continue to hold formal learning in high regard, especially where the professions are concerned, for example doctors and lawyers.

This is despite the questionable relevance in today’s business world of not only some of the classical degrees, such as English and Art, but also some other degrees. Here’s a sample of the ‘others’ for you:

  • Sports Ministry at Campbell University’s School of Theology in Kentucky, USA
  • A Masters in Digital Games at Liverpool John Moores University in the UK
  • Tae Kwon Do Masters Degree at Kyung Hee University in South Korea
  • Mississippi State University in the USA offers a degree course in Floral Management
  • A Doctorate in Philosophy of UFOlogy at Melbourne University, Australia
  • And our favourite, a degree in parapsychology at Coventry University

Irrespective of the topic, we are moved to ask, what does a degree get you, apart from knowledge of the finer points of debt management.

Does it prepare you for your working life in any way? Or does it simply give you a possible in for your first interview?

Admittedly this is as much a problem of universities as it is of businesses.

On a more personal level however many people, both young and old want to be able to say they have reached a certain level or ability in a particular topic, hence the appeal of the Open University in the UK.

To be continued…

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One Response to Formal versus informal learning, part 1 of 2

  1. Pingback: Formal versus informal learning, part 2 of 2 | My Training Centre

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