The concept of education can be described as the process of making individuals more aware of the environment and culture. The process can be categorized into two main approaches: progressive and traditional. The former stresses the development of the child from within, while the latter focuses on the formation of an individual from without, through exposure to the culture, through transmission, telling, induction, and engagement with the culture’s established ideas. Thomas argues that both approaches are problematic.
Formal and informal education have varying degrees of effectiveness. The choice between the two isn’t based on what is best for an individual, but rather, how appropriate it is in the circumstances. Both types of education require the development of reasoning, understanding, and judgement. In a nutshell, education prepares students for work. Education is no longer solely about schooling, and new methods are helping to impart practical knowledge about the world.
Subsidiarity is a central principle in common life. This concept first found institutional voice in 1881 with the papal encyclical on subsidiarity. It is a powerful rationale for looking beyond the level of the individual. While all human beings are born equal in dignity, with reason and conscience, they should act in a spirit of brotherhood. This concept is central to Catholic social teaching and policy, and has a profound influence on the development of educational systems.
In an informal learning environment, learners are able to acquire knowledge from their parents and other people. They are often unable to articulate their own knowledge about the subject matter at hand, but they often have an idea about what needs to be learned to fulfill their purpose. Informal learning often occurs in the context of conversations, with participants deciding what they want to learn. It can be an extension of formal learning or an addition to it. The structure of informal learning varies widely, but it remains the foundation of progressive educational practices.
Children in the developing world have seen dramatic growth in the number of school-going children. In 1909, only a tiny minority of boys in developing nations attended school. By the end of the twenty-first century, however, this number had reached the majority of children. By 2016, 91 percent of children around the world were enrolled in formal primary education. This dramatic increase in enrollment meant that an education crisis erupted across the globe. A World Bank study revealed that 53 percent of children in low-income countries do not have the ability to read a simple story.
It is important for education systems to teach respect for diversity. According to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity.” Education must be aimed at the development of the individual and strengthening of the respect of human rights.” In the twenty-first century, the world is becoming more diverse and culturally complex, so living in harmony with diversity is more important than ever. And it is the responsibility of every individual to cultivate this attitude in their children.