An Informal Education Framework
We all have our own experience of the power dynamics of society’s institutions and that its systems have upon us; we are told that as tax paying consumers, that in an advanced technological society that we are more educated, more affluent and have a better understanding of our rights, entitlements and a heightened awareness of service delivery, jargon, language then ever before. An important question though, is are we really aware of the impact that we let these precepts have on us. For most of us our understanding of the world we live in was formulated during our school years and early family life, where we forced to interpret the rules of the game; with the more adventurous of us exploring what they could get away with and what they could not. That fact is most people are short changed by formal education provision, and it is only in later life, with some maturity that the many people find a love for learning and experiencing new things, where they feel a sense of real growth and development.
“We never educate directly, but indirectly by means of the environment. Whether we permit chance environments to do the work, or whether we design environments for the purpose makes a great difference.” John Dewey
From a personal perspective studying Informal Education enabled me to develop further something that I was already interested in and what I think to some degree everybody is; that is, the study of what makes people and the world they live in tick. Personally I’ve always sought to try and understand stuff based on what stuff I came across, and was always intrigued about the stuff I was interested in and how I came to be interested in that stuff. Irrespective of where the stuff came from or what context it came in. As a child in an era where there were many free extra curricular activities within and outside of school, I was fortunate that I was able draw many educational experiences outside the formal educational setting.
And any environment is a chance environment so far as its educative influence is concerned unless it has been deliberately regulated with reference to its educative effect.
From the cub scouts, to a variety of sunday schools; a massive diet of sports, sunday football, junior and adult cricket at weekends, hanging out around the way, visiting friends homes, playing in the Latchmere primary school steel band, trips away, Battersea Park adventure playground, and all the youth clubs I visited. These experiences were an education in themselves. My career on the streets of South London must have start from about the age of six years old. In the 70’s we were allowed out at a very early age on our road to discovery. This visioning, observation, almost a walking praxis of negotiating life seemed to me be the standard.
It was only years later through study I began to understand, name and then apply this informal education framework to my practice, frame of reference, enabling me to become a walking, talking conduit for seeking clarity in all things. From a base position of clarity and focus, it is possible to accumulate a clear understanding that can facilitate informed decision making, which itself can lead to better choices and improved quality of life.