Educational development is a mix of both formal and informal learning conditions as assessment of my own educational experience has taught me. I cannot say that one is more important than the other; each segment together has taught me different elements -- made me grow -- and combined in producing the 'me' that you see today.
In his "Notes for an Obituary," Einstein once noted that the system of education was a deliberate intention on the part of the state to mislead youth. He distrusted all forms of education, and from his pre-adolescent days refused to be taught. Religious leaders, too, he felt were disillusioned and deluding society. Yet Einstein felt that the fault belonged, not to the rabbi or to the priest, but with the force behind them that disregarded liberty of thought and made education compulsory. As regards Einstein himself, he was determined that formal education would not teach him. His sole educator would be life itself, and that he would garner his knowledge from a direct, phenomenological purview of life.
Whilst I profoundly honor Einstein's cerebral capacities and his life's accomplishments, I disagree with his conclusion on the merits (or demerits) of formal education. Surveying my life as it has unraveled until now, I acknowledge accrued educational benefits from both formal as well as informal education. I think that each is looped with the other and that both are needed to produce an informed, well-rounded individual. Each has its specific advantages, and, it is in this light, that I have assessed the contributions of both formal and informal contributions to my educational development and have arrived at the following conclusions that I have delineated in this essay.
Formal Educational Experiences
My formal experiences that have ranked amongst the most meaningful have undoubtedly been my exposure to radiology school. I see radiology as being a supremely important discipline since it enables one to diagnose and then to treat the disease that is localized within the body. Without the radiologist employing imaging techniques in order to spot that disease, a doctor would, most times, lack hard evidence of the existence of the disease, and thus be unable to cure it. In that way, I see my job as being integral to the medical profession and as being integrally beneficial to the human race as a whole.
Before deciding on radiology as my profession, I had toured hospital with the intent of selecting nursing, but, whilst assessing my opportunities, realized that I was more tactile than theoretical in inclination. In other words, and the Learning Style Inventory, later, reinforced this supposition - I am a hands on, visual and tactile person who learns best through seeing, touching, and dealing with the messiness of reality rather than with sitting for hours behind a desk or computer cramming my head with theoretical knowledge. Kolb's Learning Inventory, in that manner, would style me as an Accommodator who learns best through concrete experience and active experimentation, being skilled at actively engaging with the world and actually doing things instead of merely reading and studying about them (Kolb, 1984).
Transferring to radiology school was one of the wisest decisions of my life. I delighted in the hands on and visual aspect of the job, and received top grades every semester being accredited for my clinical expertise. The Learning Inventory, and acknowledgement of my strengths helped me invaluably since it guided me in a direction that is most suitable for me, and one in which I may not only find my optimum satisfaction but also enables me to help others in my own particular manner and to excel.
Radiology includes an array of imaging technologies (such as x-ray radiography, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)) to diagnose or treat diseases. I have spent the last 24 years working in the field of radiology as radiographer (or radiologic technologist), and have obtained multiple certifications. Using assessment of my strengths and weakness as guide, I have structured my learning experience so that work performance and training has been associated to hands on labor whilst I indulge in minimal class work. My certifications include qualification in Computed Tomography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and radiology management.
I intend to continue in this direction, in other words continuing to learn new clinical skills in a formal setting. Some of these skills that I envision mastering include 3 Dimensional Medial Imaging and Functional MRI.
I see Ottawa University helping me to round out my education by providing formal education in healthcare management to complement my clinical skills. Ottawa University views attending college as an opportunity to interact with people whilst learning new skills and discovering new talents (http://www.ottawa.edu/). These are all practical aspects of life and education and this coheres with the type of learner that I recognize myself to be.
Informal Learning Experiences
Informal learning experiences included the fact that I attended 11 different schools from first to tenth grade. This was primarily due to my stepfather's chronic alcoholism and to our economic conditions that compelled us to constantly relocate in the search for a better job. It is interesting to note that although the Learning Inventory styled me as a more tactile and visual learner (and conversely less inclined to theoretical book knowledge), I spent my childhood perpetually reading. It was reading, perhaps, that contributed to my enjoyment of life (likely by providing me with vicarious experiences with which I could escape it) and which afforded me with expansion of my limited experience. Perhaps, it was reading, too, that so delighted me since it provided me with the medium of escaping the real world whenever things became too difficult. Either way, I have fond childhood memories of reading the entire world book encyclopedia when I was 11 years old, retreating into the woods and reading until dusk.
I suppose this desire to intellectually absorb as much as possible must have been a foreshadowing of my future since I was compelled to quit school after 10th grade in order to take care of my siblings since my family had disintegrated. I found work in a mill, and was, actually, a successful worker since my visual and tactile abilities enabled me to rapidly acquire the desired skills. My desire for education, however, never left me and when 21 years old, I returned to take the GED exam attempting to return to school.
Social theorists question the conditions of resilience, still unable to come to any unanimous conclusion regarding the conditions that make one child resilient to misfortune and able to develop into a healthy well-functioning adult, whilst another child, growing up under similar situations, crumbles under fate. Reflecting on the amount of vicissitudes that I endured and contemplating that I was able to pull through to the extent that I have makes me marvel on how far I have come. I think that much of this endurance can be traced to my book reading, which, as I described it in this essay, made a prominent mark on my life.
There are seven abilities that are associated with resilience in children. These are: emotional regulation, impulse control, causal analysis (i.e. To recognize for instance that it was my stepfather's alcoholism that was causing the difficulties not any fault misattributed to me), self-efficacy, empathy (i.e. empathy and interest in others), optimism, and reaching out (Reaching In, Reaching Out.(RIRO), pdf.). Many of these abilities can be taught through effective and inspirational literature. I was, no doubt, lucky in having unintentionally absorbed so much literature and that it was the correct literature at an age and during a childhood that I most needed it.
It was in this manner that informal learning gave me certain life learning that formal learning did not, but both formal and informal learning…