The Differences Between Formal Education and Informal Education

by Tiffany Pratt

Education is the systematic process of fostering learning, the acquisition of academic knowledge, academic skills, attitudes, values, and behaviors, and social learning. Educational systems typically include teaching, practice, research, and guided learning. Schools are governed by governmental regulations that set standards and criteria for education. In education, it is considered the role of the school to disseminate knowledge in an effective and meaningful manner. The process of educating and training students involves the basic education like comprehension, grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, and understanding.


Community-based education system is developed by locally concerned teachers and community members working with the support of parents, other stakeholders, governmental agencies, and schools. They seek to build a culture of academic responsibility within a diverse group of peers. Public education is provided by teachers who receive formal certification as educators or are licensed at state levels.

Teachers form the major segment of workforce that contributes to overall education outcomes. A principal’s formal education can begin at kindergarten through high school. At the elementary school level, elementary school teachers instruct children in physical education, grammar, reading, writing, and teaching composition. Elementary school teachers also prepare students for higher education through professional training and completion of a certified teacher certification program.

Middle school and secondary school provide additional instruction in subject matter areas such as mathematics, science, reading, foreign language, social studies, and other general education courses. An emerging form of formal education used widely in the United States is  English language instruction, which helps students learn the basics of written communication and sentence structure. Students also learn the basics of history, geography, government, and other social science topics through formal English language instruction.

Higher education encompasses doctoral programs, professional degrees, certificate programs, and graduate scholarships. At both the doctoral and post-graduate levels, candidates must compete in a series of tests and exams, conduct original research, produce, and interpret descriptive results, and defend their dissertation. Students typically undergo a three-year process of discovery, training, dissertation research, and supervision by an expert mentor. Students who pass the dissertation review exam to earn their bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctorate, or a PhD, as appropriate.

Most recently, some states, such as California, have adopted statutes that require public school teachers to participate in professional continuing education courses and contribute to their states’ education networks. In these states, professional education courses are defined as those offered by organizations that are approved by the state. These professional education programs include teachers’ education, adult education, and parental education programs. Under the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and Licensing Board, professional education programs are evaluated to ensure that they provide reasonable educational opportunities for students, teachers, and parents. Applicants for licensure must pass an examination that assesses their knowledge and training in continuing professional education.

Informal education refers to experiences that occur in classrooms, homes, and communities with minimal formal educational preparation. An excellent informal education is an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to learn more about the subject matter but is not ready to take the time to participate in a formal education program. Formal education includes such things as courses offered in universities and colleges; classroom sessions; mandated reading, literature, and classroom assignments; and field trips organized by public schools. Informal learning generally occurs at times when there is less pressure, such as on vacations, when parents can spend quality time with their children, or when people are unable or unwilling to attend traditional classes. Informal education is also valuable for workers who may be unable or unwilling to attend a school or college in the traditional manner.

As more educators work towards making the classroom an inclusive place for learning, non-formal education is becoming an increasingly important part of the learning process. The benefits of informal learning are especially evident in the workplace. For example, many companies now encourage employees to engage in personal self-service learning while they are on the clock. This form of education allows employees to develop job-related skills that employers often prize.

The article The Differences Between Formal Education and Informal Education by Tiffany Pratt appeared first on Healthy Moms Magazine.