One of the things that gets me motivated day by day is to see how much strength, resilience and motivation young people have to make the best out of their own life and that of others. In our work we meet so many different young people with various backgrounds and life stories. For me non-formal education or non-formal learning is a grand educational approach in order to support and strengthen young people’s capacity to deal with their life’s challenges and successes.
Most people in The Netherlands would start to stare when they ask me what The Youth Company does. Isn’t learning something that you do at school? As a proof of your hard work you receive your grades and hopefully you manage it all the way to your diploma ceremony. Yes! you have proven you are up to the job. Learning is seen as something that will help you shape as a professional. But what about learning to be a human rather than only the professional. You are a human being first of all. And the good part is; learning is the essence of a human being. Its starts the moment you were born and it will never stop. So your graduation will only mark one achievement in terms of learning.
Having said this, some people in my close environment would tease me a bit by saying that we organise camps. “So you are going on a camp again”. Well no, but actually I would consider a camp to be a super effective environment in which Non-Formal education can take place. But yes, we bring young people together outside the classroom; we strongly believe that young people learn better at inspirational places. Would you rather learn in a steamy warm classroom with the smell of your fellow students or on the top of an Italian mountain, in the middle of a forest in The Netherlands or in the capital of a Baltic country?
Do I have your attention, no staring or gazing anymore? It might be the right moment to answer your question; what is Non-formal education? Non-formal Education (NFE) is any organized educational activity that takes place outside the formal educational system. Usually it is flexible, learner-centered, contextualized and uses a participatory approach.
Elements of non-formal Learning
- Educational activities are based on needs of the participants and adapted to the reality within which non-formal learning happens, and this is clearly communicated.
- Reflection on the learning is embedded in all educational activities: reflection on personal learning is promoted systematically, so that participants can understand their own experience, structure it and look at ways they can build on it.
- Learning through experience (or learning by doing): all educational activities include experiences that allows participants to test their knowledge, skills and attitudes in real-life situations
- Learner-centered approach: attention is given to participants’ individual needs and abilities, and the educational activities are adapted accordingly.
- Variety of methods and techniques: diverse interactive and creative techniques and methods are adapted and used in response to the situation (needs, group dynamics, learning styles and level of competences of participants, etc.).
- Holistic approach: during an educational activities, attention is paid to all three aspects of competences (knowledge, skills, attitudes), and space is provided for experience, reflection, generalization or contextualization, so participants can try out what they have learned.
- And most of all we work from the approach of participation and peer education; young people have the ability and power to contribute to the life of other young people and define the process and outcomes of the educational activities they take part in.
Wanna go camping with us?