Education (Formal) and (Informal)

for Homo Sapiens (Humankind)

Eduction (FORMAL) in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next.[1] Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts. In its narrow, technical sense, education is the formal process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledgeskillscustoms and values from one generation to another. (Wikipedia)

Informal education is a general term for education outside of a standard school setting. It can refer to various forms of alternative education, such as:

Informal educators work in many different kinds of settings with individuals and groups who choose to engage with them.[1] The mass media (including television, video games, magazines, etc.),[2] museumslibrarieszoos, after-school groups and other community-based organizations and cultural institutions offer forms of informal education.

Autodidacticism (also autodidactism) is self-directed learning that is related to but different from informal learning. In a sense, autodidacticism is “learning on your own” or “by yourself”, and an autodidact is a self-teacher. Autodidacticism is a contemplative, absorptive procession. Some autodidacts spend a great deal of time reviewing the resources of libraries and educational websites. One may become an autodidact at nearly any point in one’s life. While some may have been informed in a conventional manner in a particular field, they may choose to inform themselves in other, often unrelated areas.

Autodidactism is only one facet of learning, and is usually complemented by learning in formal and informal spaces: from classrooms to other social settings. Many autodidacts seek instruction and guidance from experts, friends, teachers, parents, siblings, and community. (Wikipedia)

 

 

polymath (Greek: πολυμαθής, polymathēs, “having learned much”)[1] is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath (or polymathic person) may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable. Most ancient scientists were polymaths by today’s standards.[2]

The common term Renaissance man is used to describe a person who is well educated or who excels in a wide variety of subjects or fields.[3] The concept emerged from the numerous great thinkers of that era who excelled in multiple fields of the arts and science, including Leonardo da VinciMichelangeloGalileo GalileiCopernicus and Francis Bacon; the emergence of these thinkers was likewise attributed to the then rising notion in Renaissance Italy expressed by one of its most accomplished representatives, Leon Battista Alberti(1404–1472): that “a man can do all things if he will.”[4] It embodied the basic tenets of Renaissance humanism, which considered humans empowered, limitless in their capacities for development, and led to the notion that people should embrace all knowledge and develop their capacities as fully as possible. Thus the gifted people of the Renaissance sought to develop skills in all areas of knowledge, in physical development, in social accomplishments, and in the arts. The term has since expanded from original usage and has been applied to other great thinkers before and after the Renaissance such as AristotleJohann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Isaac Newton. (Wikipedia)

A different term for the secondary meaning of polymath is Renaissance man or woman (a term first recorded in written English in the early 20th century).[5] Other similar terms also in use are Homo Universalis (Latin) and Uomo Universale (Italian), which translate to “universal person” or “universal man”. These expressions derived from the ideal in Renaissance Humanism that it was possible to acquire a universal learning[6] in order to develop one’s potential, (covering both the arts and the sciences[7] and without necessarily restricting this farewell learning to be the academic fields). When someone is called a Renaissance man or woman today, it is meant that they do not have only broad interests or a superficial knowledge of several fields, but rather that their knowledge is profound and often that they also have proficiency or accomplishments in at least some of these fields and in some cases even at a level comparable to the proficiency or the accomplishments of an expert.[8] The related term Generalist is used to contrast this general approach to knowledge to that of the specialist. The expression Renaissance person today commonly implies only intellectual or scholastic proficiency and knowledge and not necessarily the more universal sense of “learning” implied by Renaissance humanism. Note, however, that some dictionaries use the term “Renaissance man” as roughly synonymous with polymath in the first meaning, to describe someone versatile with many interests or talents,[9] while others recognize a meaning restricted to the Renaissance era and more closely related to Renaissance ideals.

A more colloquial term for such a person would be a jack of all trades, though this often refers to skill and not necessarily knowledge. The term “jack of all trades” also occasionally has negative connotation (see, for instance, jack of all trades, master of none); such a person may be labeled as a dilettante, while “polymath” typically has a positive connotation.

The term Universal Genius is also used, taking Leonardo da Vinci as a prime example again. The term seems to be used especially when a Renaissance man has made historical or lasting contributions in at least one of the fields in which he was actively involved, and when he had a universality of approach. Despite the existence of this term, a polymath may not necessarily be classed as a genius; and certainly a genius may not display the breadth of knowledge to qualify as a polymath.

Renaissance ideal

Many notable polymaths lived during the Renaissance period, a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th through the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. They had a rounded approach to education that was typical of the ideals of the humanists of the time. A gentleman or courtier of that era was expected to speak several languages, play a musical instrument, write poetry, and so on, thus fulfilling the Renaissance ideal. The idea of a universal education was pivotal to achieving polymath ability, hence the word university was used to describe a seat of learning. At this time universities did not specialize in specific areas, but rather trained their students in a broad array of sciencephilosophy and theology. This universal education, as such, gave them a grounding from which they could continue into apprenticeship to aMaster of a specific field. It is important to note that a university education was highly regarded. A person was not considered to need this broad knowledge to apprentice as acarpenter, but to apprentice in the sciences or philosophy it contributed hugely to their being able to comprehend the universe as it was understood at the time. During the Renaissance, Baldassare Castiglione, in his guide The Book of the Courtier, wrote about how an ideal courtier should have polymathic traits.[10]

Castiglione’s guide stressed the kind of attitude that should accompany the many talents of a polymath, an attitude he called “sprezzatura“. A courtier should have a detached, cool, nonchalant attitude, and speak well, sing, recite poetry, have proper bearing, be athletic, know the humanities and classics, paint and draw and possess many other skills, always without showy or boastful behavior, in short, with “sprezzatura”. The many talents of the polymath should appear to others to be performed without effort, in an unstrained way, almost without thought. In some ways, the gentlemanly requirements of Castiglione recall the Chinese sage, Confucius, who far earlier depicted the courtly behavior, piety and obligations of service required of a gentleman. The easy facility in difficult tasks also resembles the effortlessness inculcated by Zen, such as in archery where no conscious attention, but pure spontaneity, produces better and more noble skill. For Castiglione, the attitude of apparent effortlessness should accompany great skill in many separate fields. In word or deed the courtier should “avoid affectation … (and) … practice … a certain sprezzatura … conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it”.[10][11]

This Renaissance ideal differed slightly from the “polymath” in that it involved more than just intellectual advancement. Historically (roughly 1450–1600) it represented a person who endeavored to “develop his capacities as fully as possible” (Britannica, “Renaissance Man”) both mentally and physically, and, as Castiglione suggests, without “affectation”.[10]For example, being an accomplished athlete was considered integral and not separate from education and learning of the highest order. Leon Battista Alberti, who was a Roman Catholic priest, architect, painter, poet, scientist, mathematician, inventor, and sculptor, was in addition a skilled horseman and archer.