Nonformal vs. non-formal education
Submitted by David J. Rosen on February 12, 2016 - 8:00pm
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Paul and others,
Although in the literature you will most often find "non-formal" education written as I just did, an international nonformal education colleague of mine, Michael Frith, many years ago suggested that "nonformal" without the hyphen would be better because the term "non-formal" defines learning in terms of formal education, i.e. not formal, and often then has the implication that it is a lower-status, not-as-good-as kind of learning, whereas "nonformal" could be considered as a different kind of learning, one growing out of popular education and social change movements, or out of an energetic focus on community needs. Although changing popular usage from "non-formal" to "nonformal" will be difficult, it's an important distinction that this kind of learning, while decidedly different from formal learning, is often at least equal to and sometimes a superior way, particularly for adults, to achieve their learning goals.
David J. Rosen