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Pedagogy V Andragogy

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Consider the differences between the way in which children and adults learn


In this assignment, I intend to consider the possible differences between the way in which children and adults learn. For instance, Piaget believed there to be schemes with four distinct stages of cognitive development. Between birth and the time a child is ready for school, he/she will pass through two of the four stages. These stages are the Sensorimotor Stage and the Preoperational Stage. Alternatively, it could be argued that our parents, teachers, and society as a whole condition us, to learn in a particular way, to take our place in society. This, then in the words of Freire is:

"the banking concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the student extends only as far as receiving, filing and storing the deposits." (Freire, 1970)

On the other hand, it is suggested, that adults learn from experience and reflection, therefore, it is the way in which people:

"understand, or experience, or conceptualise the world around them." (Ramsden, 1992)

The focus for them then, is gaining knowledge or ability through the use of experience.

These are two extremes of the spectrum of learning and there are, according to theorists such as Piaget, several stages in-between, these are: sensory-motor, pre-operational, concrete-operational and formal-operational. I intend to look at these stages in detail in the main body of this assignment. Firstly, I intend to consider the meaning of learning and briefly look at the terms 'pedagogy and andragogy'.


What is learning? Learning is a process by which we change our behaviour and understanding. We learn in many ways. For instance, the cognitive orientation to learning, this could be said to be how children learn, (see child learning section). Secondly, there is the humanistic orientation to learning, this could be said to be a personal act to fulfil potential, through experience and reflection. Finally, we have the social/situational orientation to learning; this refers to the way we are pre-conditioned by society.

Child learning: Pedagogy

Firstly, we will look at the term pedagogy, pedagogy means the art and science of educating children and often is used as another word for teaching. More correctly, pedagogy embraces teacher-focused education. In the pedagogic model, teachers assume responsibility for making decisions about what will be learned, how it will be learned, and when it will be learned. Therefore, teachers direct the learning. This then, according to Friere (70) is the 'banking method ' of education. This term will be considered in greater depth later in this assignment.

Piaget believed schemes apply the basis for future learning, the earliest schemes setting the stage for constructing new and more sophisticated schemes. Even in a newborn baby, we can find the simplest of schemes. For example, infants can suck from a bottle, but they quickly apply this to dummies and thumbs. Later in life, schemes move from a physical sensory-motor focus to more mental aspects. Toddlers can imagine blocks for stacking and put them to different uses, and eventually learn number schemes, which allow them to further organise their world in new ways.

Schemes develop in this way:

Infancy Toddlerhood Childhood Adolescence

Action applied to objects Primarily sensory and motor systems Mental processes for organising action Objects, numbers and spatial relations Mental processes for organising self-concept and awareness. Identity Organisation of the abstract Meanings of abstract laws and notions, such as physics, life and origins.

Piaget believed there are four distinct stages of cognitive development. For a complete explanation of these stages, see the table on Piaget's stages of cognitive development.

Stage Age Characteristics

Sensorimotor 0-2 Years Your child will begin to make use of her ability to imitate, to think, and to memorise. She will begin to realise that objects don't cease to exist when they are out-of-sight. Her actions will become more goal-oriented, rather than motivated through reflexes.

Preoperational 2-7 Years Your child's language skills will begin to develop. She will be able to think in symbolic forms. Your child will be able to think mental operations through in one direction. Your child will have difficulty seeing another person's point of view.

Concrete Operational 7-11 Years Your child will be able to solve concrete, hands-on problems in logical fashion. She will be able to understand laws of conservation and will be able to classify and serrate. She will also understand reversibility.

Formal Operational 11-15+ Years Your child will be able to solve abstract problems in a logical fashion. Her thinking will become more scientific and she will develop concerns about social issues and her identity.

From his observations, Piaget concluded that as children develop, they form cognitive structures, or schemata, that are a collection of ideas and concepts. These schemata allow a child to make sense of his/her environment and to progressively uncode how the world works.

Therefore, a scheme is a mental structure that underlies a co-ordinated and systematic pattern of behaviours and thinking. It can be applied across similar objects or situations and develops over time. Hence, schemes are a means by which a child interacts with their environment, and are the driving force behind the child's cognitive development. In addition, because the child, through interactions with the environment builds them, he/she is seen as an active agent of it's own development.

Although Piaget's developmental stages of learning are considered a major contribution to teaching and learning, educators and curriculum developers do not always take these stages into account when designing curriculum and learning experiences for young children. If children are to learn and be literate, educators must choose appropriate content and experiences to match children's cognitive capacities at different stages of their development. Therefore, as I suggested in my introduction, the way in which children learn is possibly pre-conditioned by their teachers, to conform to society's



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