Our rationale:

Non-formal education is, despite its fuzzy definition, one of the main pillars of youth work and youth training. It is an extensively used, and intensely debated, notion in the youth field. It stands for a range of core learning principles, methodologies and approaches in the youth sector, commonly emphasising the learner’s intrinsic motivation, voluntary participation, critical thinking and democratic agency. We keep using, debating, defending, questioning and researching non-formal education.

Two examples:

(1) Non-formal education has a long and lively tradition in Europe, a tradition that is widely acknowledged to have been spearheaded and shaped by the Council of Europe, in particular its youth sector. It has been the core methodology and philosophy of the Council’s youth programmes – which celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2012. At the occasion of the anniversary, we co-authored a publication on non-formal education.

(2) For the Youth Partnership, we developed a concise summary and a curated literature list on non-formal education, its definition, its usage in the youth field, current discourses and their impact on educational practice, and its political acceptance, support and recognition.

Further reading:
  • Policy frameworks on non-formal education. » 2011, html
    Knowledge base text for the Youth Partnership.
  • Key documents on non-formal learning. » 2011, html
    Curated literature list for the Youth Partnership.
  • Methods: refreshing obsession or undeserved fetish? » 2011, html
    Article for the Estonian Youth Work Magazine «MIHUS».
  • Defining nonformal learning. » 2009, html
    Investigating common ground across definitions.

Featured image by Marlena Köpke.