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Non formal education- How to foster student participation

You are about to enter class. Just before crossing the entrance, you go through all the material you have prepared one last time. You worry, because pupils demonstrated a stubborn lack of motivation in the last weeks and you fear this will lead to being late on the subject’s schedule.

As soon as you get inside the class, you notice one of your students is visibly exited. He/She had left for a trip to London, and you figure, they must be talking about it with their desk mates.
Being curiosity an inalienable quality of all teachers… You ask the student “How was your vacation?”

The student start’s talking and briefly explains their experience. Being you an English teacher, you ask “have you had the chance to find benefit from what we did in class?” Yes, a dangerous question to ask… Yet the pupil answers “Yes.”

You put the material you had prepared aside and call the student up to your desk and talk about the experience informally, how they applied what they had learned in English class and what they could have done differently. Class mates ask questions, expose themselves with new thoughts and point of view. The bell rings, time has passed so fast and to your surprise you managed to cover some of those pesky topics the class really couldn’t come by. They where attentive and participating… But what had just happened? How did it happen? And could it be done again?

Non formal Education is an experience that centers around the learner more than it does around the subject. It stimulates participation and confrontation. Gives the chance, to people with common interests, to share experience, goals and get in further detail about a specific topic.
It strengthens teamwork and the compliance between the teacher and the students.

But what is Non formal Education?
A learning experience where the institutional distance between learner and teacher is shortened. The activity program is adaptable and shaped around the learner’s interests and necessities.

How does it work?
It gives you the chance, as a teacher, to step back from the bridge of command and ask students to deal with Project based or Problem based activities.
Activities should be comprised of Concrete experience- Reflecting observation- Abstract conceptualization- Active experimentation.

But my students are afraid of judgment and evaluation, how could they expose themselves?
Try to create a comfortable environment by practicing Ice Breaker games and Team building activities. Be direct and clear about giving them such a Non formal time and space where regular work evaluation is suspended and the sharing of ideas encouraged.
So, what are you waiting for? Include Non formal education in your lessons now!

Written by
Giuseppe Perrotti – JUMP Trainer