Formal and Informal Education

By Deepak

Let us keep aside the serious talks about education that have been in the news so far. Let us see how formal and informal education can be merged and exploited for the betterment of the young minds.

So how do we define formal education or what is formal education? There are hundreds of students in a classroom sitting upright and attentively listening to their teacher. The teacher writes title of the topic he/she is going to teach and keep filling the black board with the words that are difficult to understand for the students.


Formal education is restricted to the four walls of a classroom, books prescribed as per a set syllabus and exams conducted based on the syllabus. This is how most of us study right from day one at the schools and the same pattern continues even during post-graduation. [Also read: 5 subjects that should be added to the school curriculum]

Informal education is not imparted within four walls and through books alone. It takes the students out of their classrooms and inspires them to think out of the box, think differently from the thinkers mentioned in the books. This kind of education may look disorganized, but that is the beauty of it. That is how a young learner is introduced to myriad innovative ideas. Bringing the students face to face with knowledge is the objective of informal education.

The informal education creates a free mind.

Rabindranath Tagore's Patha Bhavan, the school of his ideals, at the Shantiniketan was established on the principle that natural environment makes learning more enjoyable and fruitful. [Interesting read: Rabindranath Tagore's Quotes on Education]

Formal and Informal Education

The very idea of education at the schools such as the one established by Tagore is to help the students know their potential and work on honing their skills through studying subjects of their interest. This is when the real talents bloom without any restrictions and such talents in turn benefit the society in the long run.

The most successful examples for the informal education are Rabindranath Tagore himself, who received inspiration from nature to write the masterpiece like Gitanjali; Thomas Alva Edison, who was not happy with the limited knowledge his classrooms imparted to him. Hence, he left school and learnt under the able guidance of his mother as well as nature around him.

So education is not restricted to a classroom or a school building. There is so much to be learnt through nature and every day experiences at every step of life.

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