Perceptions of informal learning: tensions and benefits.

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


According to the literature, secondary school music lessons can be problematic. These problems include a lack of student motivation, inclusivity and authenticity, and the dominance of formal, traditional aspects within the subject area. The problems are multifaceted, and many are shared within an international context. Green’s (2008) model of informal learning (IL) has been posed as a potential solution to some of these problems by increasing student inclusion, motivation, authenticity and participation. However, previous research has suggested that there are tensions and misalignment between IL and formal school ecologies.

To explore these issues, a qualitative, interpretative study was conducted in two phases. The first phase involved interviews with key figures linked to the implementation of the IL phenomenon. The second and main phase of the data collection consisted of four school case studies to gather teacher and student perceptions of IL. Elements of a co-research approach were adopted in the case studies. This co-research approach enabled the increased facilitation of dialogue and productive team-working between myself as a researcher based in a university and teachers based within school settings. Data was analysed thematically, and four key themes were identified in this study: IL theory is ‘aspirational’; IL incites ‘revolutionary change’; there is conflict between ‘the influence of power (including aspects of neoliberalism and marketisation) versus the utopia of freedom’; and IL comes to life within ‘the community’. It is believed that these findings will be of interest to colleagues based within a variety of contexts as the benefits and tensions of IL are likely to be widespread. It could also be useful for those within a HE context to consider how they might prepare student teachers to implement an IL pedagogy.

GREEN, L., 2008. Music, informal learning and the school: a new classroom pedagogy. Ashgate: Aldershot.
Period16 Jul 2019
Event titleAnnual Conference for Research in Education (ACRE)
Event typeConference
LocationOrmskirk, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational