Freelancing in Informal Education
informal education and the 'gig' economy
My current project, The Freelance Condition & Lifelong Learning in Communities, is an investigation into the contributions informal educators make to lifelong learning. This research focuses specifically on the contributions of freelance informal educators who address plants, nature, and related topics in their work. I am focusing on freelance informal educators in particular because they have the opportunity to create change in many different settings.
Who are these freelance educators?
What do they do?
Where do they work?
How do they lead?
What do they need to be better leaders?
These are some of the questions I seek to answer.
why this matters
Did you know the average American spends less than 5% of their life in the classroom (Falk & Dierking, 2010)?
Most learning throughout one's life occurs outside of the classroom. This means that most people learn about plants, nature, and related topics outside of school. I suspect many people learn from independent professionals working in informal education. Where do they learn from these independent professionals? What do they learn? I hope to find answers to these questions.
If you are an independent professional whose work connects people with nature, please consider sharing your story. If you lead a program as an author, illustrator, poet, artist, photographer, basket weaver, book artist, scientist, designer, or interpreter in informal learning environments, please consider sharing your story. Do you create connections between people and nature as a freelance consultant, museum educator, or placemaker? How do you do this? Please consider sharing your story.
Not sure if you are a "freelance informal educator"?
For this study, a "freelance informal educator" is defined as someone who does not receive income as an employee (W-2 income) for the programs, products, or learning experiences they create. Freelance educators, like other freelancers, work one project, one event, or one gig at a time. If this describes you, please consider sharing your story.
Over the years I have met many passionate, independent professionals who strive to connect people with nature through their work. I have often wondered how many other professionals like them (and me) are out there in the world. I have also wondered about how each educator contributes to the public's understanding of nature. This investigation represents the first step towards finding this out. It also represents the first step in elevating the status of freelance educator to that of professional.
Are you a freelance informal educator whose work connects people with plants, nature, and related topics?
Please consider sharing your story. I am speaking with freelance educators via the Zoom platform to learn how freelance educators work and how they create change.
Falk, J.H. and Dierking, L.D. (2010). The 95 percent solution: School is not where most Americans learn most of their science. American Scientist, 98(6): 486-493