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informal education

Definition of Informal Education

(noun) Unplanned and spontaneous learning of behaviors, norms, and values, which typically occurring outside of formal (school) settings.

Examples of Informal Education

  • Reading books
  • Watching others perform tasks

Informal Education Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: in·for·mal ed·u·ca·tion

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /in-fOR-muhl ej-uh-kAY-shuhn/
  • British English – /in-fAWm-uhl e-dyu-kAY-shuhn/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ɪnˈfɔrməl ˌɛʤəˈkeɪʃən/
  • British English – /ɪnˈfɔːml ˌɛdju(ː)ˈkeɪʃən/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: informal educations
  • Informal education is contrasted to formal education.

Related Quotation

  • “[W]hat schools do ideologically, culturally, and economically is very complicated and cannot be fully understood by the application of any simple formula. There are very strong connections between the formal and informal knowledge within the school and the larger society with all its inequalities. But since the pressures and demands of dominant groups are highly mediated by the internal histories of educational institutions and by the needs and ideologies of people who actually work in them, the aims and results will often be contradictory as well” (Apple 1990:x–xi).

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Additional Information

Related Terms


Apple, Michael W. 1990. Ideology and Curriculum. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.

Note: Read for free at the Open Libary.

Works Consulted

Ferrante, Joan. 2011a. Seeing Sociology: An Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Ferrante, Joan. 2011b. Sociology: A Global Perspective. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry, Faye Jones. 2016. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, TX: OpenStax.

Kendall, Diana. 2011. Sociology in Our Times. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Cite the Definition of Informal Education

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “informal education.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 18, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/informal-education/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

informal education. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/informal-education/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “informal education.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/informal-education/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“informal education.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 18 Jun. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/informal-education/>.