Posts Tagged ‘Horace Mann’

Informal Learning and The Learner’s Guild

April 30, 2008

More American adults will undertake some kind of informal learning this year than will attend all movies. More Americans will engage in some unofficial instructional endeavor than watched the last American Idol finale and the last Super Bowl. Americans love their entertainment but they’re almost hardwired with the desire to learn.


It’s a rich heritage. Benjamin Franklin was an autodidact… a self-taught student. So, too in large measure was Horace Mann, the famous educational reformer, who got his books from a small library Franklin himself had founded. As early as the 1830s the American backcountry was filled with teachers who toured the sticks teaching farmers and merchants topics both useful and arcane. Mark Twain started making his first real money not as a writer but as a lecturer in the 1860s. Later, facing bankruptcy, Twain returned to the lecture circuit to pay off his debts.


Nowadays according to the U.S. Department of Education 70 percent of Americans adults undertake some kind of informal learning each year… more than one and half times as many Americans who are enrolled in some kind of formal education or work training. Of those whose household income is greater than $75,000, 78 percent engage in informal learning. Among those with a graduate degree the number of informal learners is an astonishing 89 percent! Even the most educated among us realize that all education is self-education.


The high income and well educated understand that the power to understand ideas and express themselves clearly… which travels hand in hand with ongoing learning… correlates with almost any definition of success. Like the lab experiment that yields a reward every time the lever is pressed, the well-educated keep on pressing the education lever. And they do so consistently throughout all of life’s stages.


Yet informal learning almost flies under the radar. That’s because by its very nature informal learning is so broad as to defy easy categorization. Reading up on working with exotic woods is informal learning. So too is listening to language tapes or watching that documentary on penguins on the Discovery Network. Maybe there’s a goal in mind like improving your employability by learning a HTML. Or maybe you’re like Franklin and you learn just because you like to learn.


Into this comes, The Learner’s Guild.


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This is my third blog. My first is now inactive, but my second blog, on the subject of ’cause-related marketing’ currently ranks either number one or two and all the major search engines.