Only a game?

Rural Youth Europe is an educational organisation. We aim to train young people and raise awareness of issues young people are facing. Our topics include leadership skills, entrepreneurship, social inclusion, food security, job skills…
Rural Youth Europe is still totally different to traditional educating institutions like schools and universities. Even though our topics are a bit different, the most important difference is the methods used.
It’s called non-formal education. Those of you who have participated in our events know what it is: games, group discussions, drama activities, group challenges and much more. It’s fun but it involves something more. After the activity (doing) there should always be debriefing or evaluation of the activity. What happened? Why? What was my role in the team? Why didn’t we succeed? What can I learn from this? Where can I use this again?
Many youth organisations use non-formal education methods (learning by doing). Even though it might look hilarious and non-sense, it’s actually studied quite a lot. Many studies show that non-formal methods give better learning outcomes than traditional ones.
As a young math and physics teacher, I try to take advantage of what I have learnt in Rural Youth Europe and 4H study sessions. Still, it’s sometimes hard to convince your colleagues to try out something new.
Although non-formal education methods are proved to be useful, the traditional ones have their place as well. Lectures have been given in universities for hundreds of years with great outcomes. What’s important to realise is that each of us learns in a different way. What works for me maybe doesn’t work for you. And it should be ok.
Mikko Välitalo
Board member