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The Importance of Informal Education

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1391 words
1391 words
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The Importance of Informal Education

Informal education has for a long time been considered very controversial in the education world and looked upon as just for entertainment. Informal education is commonly defined as learning that takes outside of formal school settings. Informal education can be things such as field trips to science centers, aquariums, museums, zoos, or planetariums. All of the following places are considered to be "informal settings" because they are all outside the classroom area. An educational curator at a small museum in Jackson Hole, Wyoming is as much an informal educator as a director of educational programs for the Smithsonian Institution. Often informal educators are retired K-12 teachers that have received additional training and have therefore been thrust into a more prominent role to teaching the nation’s students about mathematics and science. Many people look at field trips as pointless and unbeneficial to students at any age. But many will argue that informal education is only helpful when students have prior knowledge of the subject from formal education before going out of the classroom to learn. The role of prior knowledge in learning is considered of utmost importance in designing effective educational programs. Informal education is very common with science subjects. Most students cannot understand scientific principles by reading out of a book because textbooks and paper handouts can be very dry and boring. Going on field trips to informal settings reinforces what students learn from their teachers and help them understand the topics better.

Public understanding of science is considered to be one of the most important issues facing educators in today’s technological world. It is see...

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...ormal education to step up and play a more significant role. Informal education activities should no longer be looked upon as "a day away from school" but rather an opportunity to further learning and have fun doing it. Informal education settings are unique from the usual classroom location so it is refreshing to learn in a different place, just like so many students enjoy when they learn as a class outside in the warm breeze after a long cold winter. Informal education provides students with a new outlook on learning and makes them more attentive. But more importantly, informal education assists formal education; it does not replace it by any means. While it is hard to find a "perfect exhibit" to fit everyone’s needs, informal educators are doing the best they can. In the words of Frank Oppenheimer, founder of the San Francisco Exploratorium, "no one flunks museum."

In this essay, the author

  • Defines informal education as learning outside of formal school settings, such as field trips to science centers, aquariums, museums, zoos or planetariums.
  • Explains that public understanding of science is one of the most important issues facing educators in today's technological world.
  • Argues that students need to be able to see scientific processes happening before their eyes to recall what they learned in class and implement it into their everyday lives. educational programs must make science information relevant to the lives of the public.
  • Explains the three major themes regarding informal education. the first is curiosity or intrinsically motivated learning, which comes from within a student, not from an outside source.
  • Explains that informal learning offers multiple modes of learning, exploration during the learning process, and self-developed world views. there are two components to how people learn in informal settings.
  • Explains the advantages of informal education activities besides just having fun. field trips can improve the motivation and attitudes of many students, while science centers and planetariums engage students through participation and social interaction.
  • Opines that informal education has its downfalls, such as sterile exhibits that lack the flexible, meaningful human interaction that an experienced teacher can provide to students.
  • Recommends that informal education activities include planned and purposeful attempts to facilitate students’ understanding of mathematics and science in community settings rather than the classroom.
  • Explains that they went on a lot of field trips in high school and middle school. they are an active person and visual learner.
  • Opines that science and environmental educators in universities, k-12 schools, informal education programs, nature centers, and parks are faced with educating people about new and evolving understandings of life on earth.
  • Opines that informal education provides students with a new outlook on learning and makes them more attentive.
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