On the essence of IE

IE represents the relationship between all the elements of the educational pedagogical process as an interaction. Therefore, one of the main features of IE as an approach is agency. Without exception, all participants in the IE process are subjects.

Despite the fact that this sign may seem familiar to the reader to the smallest detail, this impression is often deceptive in our experience. Let us declare at once:

Subject-to-subject relationships are not an individual approach to the student

The individual approach deeply respected by the authors is, albeit humane, an example of an object-subject model. In such a model, the subject of the process is the teacher, and the student is the object of the application of this process. After all, despite the fact that the teacher sees the student as a person and respects them, adjusting the way of transferring knowledge and even the relationship depending on the traits of their personality, all the decisions, both about the material studied and the way of studying this material, are still in the teacher's hands. The teacher helps the student to learn in every possible way, tries to make the process more comfortable for them, but this does not mean that the teacher allows the student to actively influence the process, to form it, to choose aspects of knowledge that are to the student personality-wise.

Note that even the most active involvement of the student in the process does not promise their transformation into the subject. And the systems in which the conditions are created for students to express their wishes remain subject-to-object ones. After all, the final decision on taking these wishes into account remains a prerogative of teachers even in these systems. To say nothing of the less humane manifestations of this model.

Subject-to-subject relations imply active interaction between all participants in the process, their absolute personal equality.

Already in the preface we would like to swiftly dissipate frequent fears arising after such definitions. Subject-to-subject relations do not make the teacher dependent on the student's whims, nor do they diminish their professional status at all. IE does not cancel the process of obtaining knowledge, so the role of the teacher remains just as central. Moreover, the personality of the teacher, their agency in the IE is no less important than the personality of any other participant in the process. This is not a wish, but a requirement of the method, since the teacher's personality is the most important tool of the process.

Thus, IE uses subject-to-subject interaction as the main method of teaching. In other words, IE is the most appropriate practical embodiment of the humanistic approach. IE is putting this approach into action.

Now a few words about the subjects of the IE and their designations.

The fact is that the usual system of designation — teacher - student or mentor - mentee, etc. — is not suitable for IE. Status and role values are too strong in these words. The teacher is the one who teaches, the mentee is the one who is mentored... Unlike such clear and precise definitions, IE operates in softer and, in a certain sense, less defined terms.

Instead of words "student", "mentee" we use in IE the word "participant" — the one who participates in process. It is clear that you can participate in different roles, regardless of status. The participant may be in different circumstances a student, a teacher, an independent expert, a researcher. This breadth of values very accurately reflects the participant's position in the process.

This term could also be used to designate another subject of the process — a teacher, a mentor, an educator, who is, from the point of view of IE, also a participant in what is happening. However, of course, there is a need to come up with a designation for the teacher — a professional, who builds the process, organizes and leads it; the one who is responsible for what happens. Thus, the term "presenter" appeared — the one who conducts the educational process in the IE.

Both of these terms seem to us to be the most accurate among others possible, as they reflect the true worldview of the IE.
Informal Education as an approach is based on the personal interest of the participant. This is, perhaps, the main secret of the approach, its methodological basis. If there is no interest of the participant, there is no IE process. The main focus of informal education is the conviction that the process can — and should — be interesting. If the participant (and the presenter) is not interested, it is necessary to use driving forces that are alien to IE, and possibly, pedagogy in general. That is, to look for manipulative ways to influence the student, which are designed to make them learn despite the lack of interest. And this, in itself, turns them into an object and destroys the process.

In general, it seems that there are few of our colleagues, and readers in general, who will argue that personal interest is the best basis for the educational and pedagogical process. As one listener once said in our lecture:

“If the student is interested, the teacher can afford to be a humanist…”

So, you need to learn to catch and hold that interest. Moreover, since IE is an agency-based, personal approach, the presence of interest is equally important for the participant and for the educator.

To learn how to work with personal interest, find it, and base the process on it, see The ABC .
Naturally, subjectivity/agency and personal interest entail the principle of interaction between the participants of the process and many factors of this process.

First of all, this principle implies a personal attitude of the participant to everything that is happening. In other approaches, such a question may be surprising, if not ridiculous. How can a student have a personal attitude to everything they study?

Meanwhile, in IE such an attitude is one of the professional necessities. The process of teaching in IE occurs insofar as the subject discovers and develops connections between themself and the material they are studying. Without the connection with personality, there is no cognition, at least from the point of view of Informal Education. The interaction of a person with themself, with other participants, with knowledge, with the surrounding world, ensures both their involvement, and their understanding of the process. It is at this point that the very motivation the necessity of which generations of teachers and educators have been talking about originates.

“Pure knowledge” does not exist. It can only be personally colored, inscribed in the structure of the personality.
The necessary condition for the emergence and development of the IE process is the participant's choice.

Strictly speaking, IE was born thanks to this choice. Historically, for a long time, Informal Education has been directly associated with voluntary participation in programs. If the participant does not come, the program may simply not take place.

In fact, the choice today is almost the most important factor of existence, without which you simply cannot function, you cannot survive.

What we choose, how, on what principle — these are not idle questions. It is this skill — the ability to choose — that needs to be learned by any person these days. Meanwhile, the school today in most cases is, on the contrary, busy with taking the choice away from the student. The schedule, the material studied, the way it is presented, the behavior — everything is strictly regulated and scheduled.

Informal Education as an approach is based on the availability of continuous participant's choice throughout the process. Which aspect of the material am I more interested in as a participant? How do I interact with the subject? Which method of research is closer to me? Finally, what is my attitude to what is happening? By making various choices, the participant explores what is happening to them and to the whole group in the same way as they explore any of the studied material. In IE, the choice is incorporated in the structure of the session, it becomes an independent category of the process, its tool.
The primary IE method is research.

Throughout the process, the participant conducts multifaceted research using various tools. The fundamental point is the fact that the research in IE takes place at different levels — not only intellectual, but also applied, sensory, etc. There is enough about the methods of research in The ABC itself. The main thing is that IE naturally relies on direct discoveries occurring "on-line" — in the classroom, group, etc. In other words, much of what we are learning, from the point of view of IE, must happen “here and now.” It is this way of acquiring knowledge that we consider most appropriate for today's young people.
So, agency, personal interest, interaction, participant's choice, research — these elements, combined with other factors, enable Informal Education to provide answers to the boldest pedagogical questions, to solve modern educational problems, to provide new opportunities for both those who study and those who teach. And as a result, it may be possible to realize the dream of many educators and students: to turn the educational process into a pleasure of teaching and learning.

“Practical Pedagogy: The ABC of IE”, Chapter 1.

Practical Pedagogy: The ABC of IE
"Practical Pedagogy: the ABC of IE" answers one of the main pedagogical questions: how to teach so that all participants of the educational process not only do not regret the time spent, but also get real pleasure from the process?

© 2008-2023

If you like this website, click here.