Learning that takes place in schools or school-like environments (formal education) or in the world at large; the transmission of the values and accumulated knowledge of a society. In developing cultures there is often little formal education; children learn from their environment and activities, and the adults around them act as teachers. In more complex societies, where there is more knowledge to be passed on, a more selective and efficient means of transmission-the school and teacher-becomes necessary.
The content of formal education, its duration, and who receives it have varied widely from culture to culture and age to age, as has the philosophy of education. Some philosophers (e.g., John Locke) have seen individuals as blank slates onto which knowledge can be written. Others (e.g., Jean-Jacques Rousseau) have seen the innate human state as desirable in itself and therefore to be tampered with as little as possible, a view often taken in alternative education.