Informal Learning

By Fuana Tmarsel —-

Recently, my young neighbor was walking at the back of the house chanting, “ea ke mesesuau, eke mesesuau….”  I initially ignored his apparent rendition of a recent adult exchange at their house, but when the cantillana continued, I stretched my neck out the window and watched him dragging his skateboard while repeating the scornful adjectives. Because of age, I doubt he knew what the words meant, yet interested enough to have not only captured the words but also adding the tune for amusement as he goes about his business.

I expect that in the near future, he will turn around and insult a friend with the same words- but by then he has so desensitized himself from its powerful curse that he will not realize the insult he would cause. Perhaps you are reading this and saying – oh you are making mountains out of molehills, but before you dismiss this idea – allow me to finish.

Learning happens formally – that is in school classroom where there is a teacher and students and active impartation of information from teacher to student. Then there is informal learning which happen outside of the classroom. Everyone undergoes lots of informal learning before enrolling in school. I have heard a number of parents lament about their child’s increase use of vulgar language since they joined kindergarten, or pre-school. This is an example of informal learning. Just as the boy is singing what he caught his parents’ or older relatives say at home,  he takes it to heart and then calls someone else the same.

This is the same with violence, aggressive behavior, generosity, kindness, and even lies and deception. Our children learn to view the world from our example. They learn to react to the world and to people because of what they see their parents and family members do. Similarly, many parents blame the television for training their children about violence, cussing and sexual behavior without first taking the responsibility of monitoring shows they allow their children to watch.

Another behavior that is common with the young and the old everywhere is telling a little white lie. Parents teach children it is okay to lie when they tell the neighbor they do not have beetle-nut, but in fact they have, they just do not want to share. I once was told a story wherein a person told someone that she did not have beetle nut, but it so happened that the toddler at the house was there and quickly said, “But Momie, you have lots of beetle-nut in the kitchen, did you forget?” this embarrassed the mother and she had to tell another lie to cover up her firs lie.

Our society’s behavioral problems began long ago when instead of taking the time to love our children and teaching them the right way to go, we neglected them. We filled their stomachs to the brim, yet their hearts were left empty. People in prisons did not get there on their own –Many parents helped paved the way there, by neglecting to correct and discipline with patience and love. It has been said one moment of patience may ward off a great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life. Parents should watch what they teach their children.


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