Foundations of Education


Defines three types of education.

Key Concepts

  • informal education
  • non-formal education
  • formal education
  • educational levels

Types of Education

'Education' is a formal area of scholarship within academia. The study of education focuses on informal, non-formal, and formal teaching and learning.

Informal Education () refers to unstructured teaching and learning experiences that occur in our daily lives, outside of any formal institutional context (such as schools). Examples include: reading a book out of personal interest, pursuing a favourite hobby, and learning to ride a bike.

Non-formal Education refers to teaching and learning experiences which have a degree of structure, but which are not as institutionally complex as formal education. Examples include: swimming lessons, the Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, and non-credit courses.

Formal Education refers to structured teaching and learning experiences which are situated within educational institutions and which lead to a certification of some kind (e.g., a high school diploma or university degree).
📌 Some teaching and learning experiences straddle multiple divisions. For example, students who pursue music lessons and then a complete a Royal Conservatory of Music exam are engaged in both non-formal education and formal education.
Broadly speaking, the study of formal education is further sub-divided into the study of four educational levels:

  • early childhood education
    • pre-school
    • kindergarten (also belongs to the elementary education level)
  • elementary education (i.e., grades JK to 8 in Ontario)
    • primary education
      • junior kindergarten (JK) (age 4)
      • senior kindergarten (SK) (age 5)
      • grade 1 (age 6) *
      • grade 2 (age 7)
      • grade 3 (age 8)
    • junior education
      • grade 4 (age 9)
      • grade 5 (age 10)
      • grade 6 (age 11)
    • intermediate education
      • grade 7 (age 12)
      • grade 8 (age 13)
  • secondary education (i.e., grades 9 to 12 in Ontario)
    • intermediate education
      • grade 9 (age 14)
      • grade 10 (age 15)
    • senior education
      • grade 11 (age 16)
      • grade 12 (age 17)
  • post-secondary education
    • undergraduate education
    • graduate education (e.g., masters)
    • doctoral education (e.g., PhD)
* In Ontario, children begin grade 1 the calendar year they turn six years old. All ages are approximate in the above listing.

The scope of this course is generally limited to the study of elementary and secondary education.