This book has two purposes: To open up the debate on the role of informal education in schooling systems and to suggest the kind of school organizational environment that can best facilitate the recognition of informal learning. Successive chapters explore what is often seen as a duality between informal and formal learning. This duality is particularly so because education systems expend so much time and effort in certifying formal knowledge often expressed in school subjects reflecting academic disciplines.Recognizing the contribution informal learning can make to young people’s understanding and development does not negate the importance of valued social knowledge: That complements it. Students come to school with knowledge learnt from their families, peers, the community and both traditional and social media. They should not have to "unlearn" this in order to enter the world of formal learning. Rather, students’ different learning "worlds" should be integrated so that each informs the other. In a knowledge-based society, all learning needs to be valued.
Some contributors to this book reflect on how new educational systems could be created in a move away from top-down authoritarian and bureaucratic management. Such open systems are seen to be more welcoming in acknowledging the importance of informal learning. Others provide practical examples of how informal learning is currently recognized. Some attention is also paid to the evaluation of informal learning. A key objective of the work presented here is to stimulate debate about the role of informal learning in knowledge-based societies and to stimulate thinking about the kind of reforms needed to create more open and more democratic school learning environments.