Reading this book, I have found it important to share this concept with you, given the importance of its contents. Throughout the book, the author makes a deep analysis on the state of education worldwide. Unfortunately we fail to meet the minimum standards, necessary to meet the level of teaching / learning required today. to be inserted into the real enviromental life and work, each of us, we are facing as a purely personal choice, to advance knowledge in order to improve these skills and knowledge in order to transfer it to workers and formal student.
By: Diana Laurillard’s
In most countries, education is a political issue because it is organized and
funded primarily by the state. There are some impressive ambitions to be
found in educational policy documents, the most ambitious being the United
Nations’ millennium goal for education, which every nation inherits: to
achieve universal primary education by 2015. This is the ultimate challenge for
education, and as I write in 2011, we are only halfway towards it.
National policies for education have to recognize competing pressures on
the formal curriculum, and because participation in higher education is
increasing across the world the school curriculum is harnessed closely to the
needs of the post-16 curriculum. Governments are therefore keen to influence
the formal curriculum at all levels, to be sure it meets all needs.
In the UK the most recent review of higher education identified four roles
for a university education as knowledge-oriented, personal, economic, and
social, with main pressures on the curriculum deriving from the aims to:
inspire and enable individuals to develop their capabilities to the highest
potential levels throughout life so that they grow intellectually, are well-
equipped for work, can contribute effectively to society and achieve
increase knowledge and understanding for their own sake and to foster
their application to the benefit of the economy and society…
serve the needs of an adaptable, sustainable, knowledge-based economy at
local, regional and national levels.
The academy and economy will always be sources of influence on the formal
curriculum, while the fourth aim, the social role, is more political, recognizing
the importance of the graduate’s role as citizen, “to play a major role in shap-
ing a democratic, civilised and inclusive society” (ibid.: 72).
Citizenship and human rights education is now part of what is becoming a
global curriculum for formal education across all sectors for all countries,
advocated by bodies such as OECD and UNESCO (Robertson et al. 2007;
These are ambitious aims. They impose on the teacher a much tougher task
than telling students what they know, and one that cannot be achieved simply
What is Formal Learning? 13
by being knowledgeable in their field. The challenge is compounded by the
twenty-first century ambition to increase the proportion of people educated
beyond school. Educational policy documents demand not only higher quality
but broader reach as well.
At European level the Lisbon agreement of 2000 was “to make the EU the
world’s most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010,”
and led to a succession of follow-up documents placing on universities the
responsibility to change their approach to teaching and learning in order to
achieve this ambition:
In order to overcome persistent mismatches between graduate qualifica-
tions and the needs of the labour market, university programmes should
be structured to enhance directly the employability of graduates and to
offer broad support to the workforce more generally.
(CEC 2006: 6) (original bold)
Recent UK government policy was equally concerned to foster employment
skills and emphasized basic skills, such as literacy and numeracy, and generic
skills, such as team working and communication, as being applicable in most
jobs (Leitch 2006; UKCES 2009). The importance of the broader generic skills
is enshrined in the OECD approach to its Programme for International
Student Assessment (PISA), which defines the benchmark for schools across
all its member states:
PISA defines each assessment area (science, reading and mathematics) not
mainly in terms of mastery of the school curriculum, but in terms of the
knowledge and skills needed for full participation in society.
The EU policy also wants to enable new disciplines and cross-disciplinary
research and teaching to emerge, which will require “focusing less on scientific
disciplines and more on research domains” (CEC 2006: 8), so that students can
move between disciplines through new approaches to teaching and curricula.
It is not just the professional workplace that needs graduates who can work
across the disciplines: those who go into university research must be able to
acquire the skills and habits of interdisciplinary thinking, and not be
constrained by departments “at a time when innovation occurs increasingly at
the intersection of multiple disciplines (including business and social sciences),
curricula and research funding remain largely contained in individual depart-
ments” (Spellings 2006).
All graduates should have the chance to develop the high-level cognitive
skills that can be applied within any discipline because it will not be possible to
predict which other subjects they may have to engage with.
For the educational establishment, therefore, the foundational knowledge in
the formal curriculum is not just the detailed understanding of systems of
What is Formal Learning?
ideas and explanations of the natural and social world that a traditional curric-
ulum offers. It embraces equally the high-level cognitive skills that the knowl-
edge society requires of its professional workforce and its citizens.
See: Diana Laurillard’s book, page 27-28, Teaching as a Design