One of the best ways to inspire and cement learning is understanding two related concepts. Now despite that their names imply that they’re polar opposites, FORMAL LEARNING and INFORMAL LEARNING work together to create a depth of understanding and students’ ability to truly grasp the fundamentals of an idea or concept.
When a student can take a concept that they’ve learned FORMALLY, say in the classroom… and they can supplement it and test it by using it in their everyday experience, then the learning becomes CEMENTED in place. The understanding is deeper.
This takes INTENTION, it takes FORETHOUGHT, and PLANING. First off, remember that INFORMAL LEARNING comes from things that students experience with their senses. What they see, what they hear, what they touch, feel, and taste. When you designate “free time” for your students… set up your environment so that they immediately have access to the items that support the concepts you’re teaching.
Now, with the advent of afterschool programs, we have a huge opportunity – and a duty – to make sure that INFORMAL LEARNING time is available.
The fact is, as humans on the search for deeper understanding and knowledge, we absolutely need and must embrace both FORMAL LEARNING and INFORMAL LEARNING and we must encourage the interplay between the two.