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Facilitating informal learning: mindset, lifestyle and paying attention

I’ve posted this photo of Easter celebration with our homeschooling friends on Facebook, but I feel that there is more to say about it.

Easter, homeschooling style

A lot of learning in our lives is informal, embedded, implicit. Easter lunch is not about learning, but it comes to it when a discussion gets to a question about the biggest egg. What did the parents around the table do?

  • show interest in the discussion
  • ask more questions to help kids elicit their ideas
  • look up online to check how kids’ ideas hold in reality
  • bring a magazine with an overview of different eggs
  • venture into tangential questions about bird/reptile eggs and different uses of quail eggs vs chicken eggs
  • make a photo of this whole thing

All of these was totally unplanned and uncoordinated. This is why I found it important to make a photo: for me it’s the indication of the mindset and the lifestyle that enable learning as part of life.

The mindset is about paying attention to a learning opportunity: where is energy and interest? can I enable it and how? what is fun for me in it? how far can I go without taking it over or killing the fun?

The lifestyle goes further. It’s about habits, skills and environment that enable actions around the table (you have to know where that magazine lays to be able to bring it while it’s needed 😉 and that make it a natural, seamless process.

The funny thing is that facilitation of informal learning is often also informal, embedded and implicit – we often don’t know what is there, how do we do it and what comes out of it. With both, learning and it’s facilitation, I find it important to give it attention. Noticing and articulating what is going on is the first step for many things:

  • keeping track of effort and progress – knowing where you are, what you know and don’t know, how much does it take to get there;
  • focusing, amplifying, improving (or letting go what doesn’t work);
  • reflection and meta-learning skills.


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