Making Sense of Surrounding Difference: Informal Learning in National Culture Adaptation

Making Sense of Surrounding Difference: Informal Learning in National Culture Adaptation

David Starr-Glass (University of New York in Prague, Czech Republic)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8265-8.ch014
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Abstract

Informal learning is the inevitable consequence of our attempts to make sense of the world in which we live. Sometimes, on critical reconsideration, informal learning is recognized as significant and intentional; sometimes, it is recognized as trivial and inconsequential. Informal learning generally lacks external organization, structure, or support; nevertheless, it is essential in interpreting experience and anticipating outcomes. This chapter considers informal learning generally and, more specifically, the ways in which transnational students studying in Prague learn about other national cultures and negotiate their cultural adaptation. Using the reflective journals of these students, the chapter explores their growing realization of difference and critical incidents in the process of cultural adaptation. The chapter argues that a greater appreciation of informal learning can provide synergistic opportunities for linking it with formal cross-cultural learning in ways that enrich and empower the learner.
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Background

Knowledge is continuously created and elaborated through experiential engagement in the lifeworld of the learner. Sometimes, the process of knowledge-creation is initiated purposefully with a specific intent; often, it is neither intended nor consciously directed. In some cases, learning takes place within a framework that specifies and supports it; in others, there is no defining social, organizational, or institutional framework. To better appreciate different ways of learning it might be useful to consider the following typography that uses the dimensions of learner intent and learning context:

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