chapter  19
“115 million girls . . .”: informal learning and education, an emerging field
ByAlan Rogers
Pages 16

It is important to identify what we are discussing, as “there is a tendency to treat education and learning as synonymous concepts” (Duke 2001: 502) and this leads to “the persisting confusion of education with learning” ( Jarvis 1990: 203). The term ‘informal learning’ is often used to mean ‘informal education’, flexible learning programmes outside formal educational institutions, such as e-learning, open and distance education as well as active teaching-learning methods in the classroom (see, for example, Cofer 2000; for informal education, see Jeffs and Smith 1990; Childs and Greenfield 1977; Bekerman et al. 2006). The ‘informal learning’ of this paper is not informal (or nonformal) education; it is not planned learning. It is all that unplanned, everyday learning from life’s experience that every person does, a natural, continuous but unintentional and very largely unconscious process. Learning is like breathing, something we all do without thinking about it except occasionally. “Among the most basic of human activities, learning is as crucial as breathing. Learning is the process . . . by which we internalise the external world and through which we construct our experiences of that world” ( Jarvis, Holford and Griffin 1998: vii). In this sense, learning is ubiquitous in every arena of life, not just in specific places (school, adult class or workplace, etc.); it is universal, everyone does it, there are no ‘nonlearners’; and it is

continuous – lifelong and everyday – not confined to specific times and events. It is simply a part of living (for a more detailed review of informal learning, see Rogers 2014a).