- Term Papers and Free Essays


Essay by   •  January 2, 2011  •  3,483 Words (14 Pages)  •  1,286 Views

Essay Preview: Pedagogy

Report this essay
Page 1 of 14

Pedagogy vs. Andragogy: A False Dichotomy?

Geraldine Holmes and Michele Abington-Cooper

This article is not pointedly aimed at technology education, but it addresses an issue that is becoming increasingly germane to educators working with nontraditional students-a larger segment of the people we teach. CI

What is an adult learner? Much of the literature on adult learning indicates that teachers teach adults differently than pre-adults and that most of the contrasts are associated with teachers' perceptions of learner characteristics. An awareness and acceptance of our values and an understanding of our personal philosophies are very important before forming a working definition of what and who an adult learner is to us.

Age is the characteristic mentioned often when describing an adult learner. Most educators assume that it is easy to distinguish an adult learner from a younger learner just look at the difference in years. But the difference goes beyond age and years. Think about the many possible concepts of an adult such as a dictionary's definition or biological, physiological, legal, social, psychological, spiritual, and moral definitions. These concepts include defining an adult as fully developed and mature, as someone who can reproduce him or herself, as someone who is responsible for his or her own actions, as someone who can legally vote, and as someone who exhibits behavior that indicates a sense of right and wrong.

The various concepts of an adult learner become even more confusing when we try to integrate them with our personal beliefs of what an adult learner should be. It is usually risky to to make generalizations about behavior based solely on age. Also, in reflecting on the many concepts of an adult, there are important individual questions we have to consider. What will we use to build the educational framework for our adult learners? What will we use to guide us in our actions in our treatment of adult learners? Whose concept of an adult learner will we use?

According to Davenport and Davenport (1985), the identification of what is unique about adult learning (in contrast to child or youth learning) has been a long-standing effort in adult education. They reasoned that if this difference could be identified, then the research territory of adult education could be based on these theoretical distinctions.

Before 1950, many educators assumed the same theories of learning and instruction worked for both adults and children. Since formal education in the United States has focused largely on those between ages 6 and 21, most research before the mid-1960s centered on people in these age groups. Many teachers of adults begin to question the validity of pedagogical assumptions in the early 1960s.

Pedagogical and Andragogical Models

The histories of pedagogy and andragogy are both interesting and complex. Pedagogy evolved in the monastic schools of Europe between the 7th and 12th centuries. The term is derived from the Greek words paid, meaning "child" and agogus meaning "leader of." Thus pedagogy literally means the art and science of teaching children (Knowles, 1973).

Pedagogical assumptions made about learning and learners were based on observations by the monks in teaching simple skills to children. These assumptions were further adopted and reinforced with the spread of elementary schools throughout Europe and North America in the 18th and 19th centuries. When educational psychologists started scientifically studying learning around the Geraldine Holmes and Michele Abington-Cooper turn of the 20th century, they limited their research mostly to the reactions of children and animals to systematic instruction. This reinforced the pedagogical model (Knowles, 1980).

In the early 1920s when adult education began to be organized systematically, the teachers of adults found some problems with the pedagogical model. One was that pedagogy was based on the premise that the purpose of education was the transmittal of knowledge and skills. Adult learners seemed to feel this was insufficient and frequently resisted teaching strategies that pedagogy prescribed, such as lectures, assigned readings, drills, quizzes, note memorizing, and examinations. Dropout rates were high. Teachers also noted that many of the assumptions about the characteristics of learners in the pedagogic model did not fit their adult students (Knowles, 1980).

The term andragogy was coined in 1833 by the German teacher Alexander Kapp, who used it to describe the educational theory of Plato (Nottingham Andragogy Group, 1983). A fellow German, John Frederick Herbert, disapproved of the term, and the term subsequently disappeared from use for almost a century. By 1921, the term had reappeared in Europe, and during the 1960s it was used extensively in France, Holland, and Yugoslavia (Davenport, 1987). Andragogy was first introduced to the United States in 1927 by Martha Anderson and Eduard Linderman, but they did not attempt to develop the concept (Davenport & Davenport, 1985). Lindeman did, however, emphasize a commitment to a self-directed, experiential, problem-solving approach to adult education (Davenport, 1987).

Knowles (1980) was exposed to the term andragogy from a Yugoslavian adult educator in the mid-1960s. His definition of andragogy was developed as a parallel to pedagogy. Andragogy is based on the Greek word aner with the stem andra meaning "man, not boy" or adult, and agogus meaning "leader of." Knowles defined the term as "the art and science of helping adults learn" in an effort to emphasize the differences between the education of adults and children (Davenport, 1987).

According to Knowles (1980), the goal of adult education should be self-actualization; thus, the learning process should involve the whole emotional, psychological, and intellectual being. The mission of adult educators is to assist adults to develop their full potential, and andragogy is the teaching methodology used to achieve this end. In Knowles' view, the teacher is a facilitator who aids adults to become self-directed learners (Darkenwald & Merriam, 1982).

Although Knowles' definition of andragogy focuses on the teacher's role, his andragogical theory is based on characteristics of the adult learner. His four assumptions are that as individuals mature (a) their self-concept moves from that of a dependent personality toward one of increasing self-directedness, (b) they accumulate a growing reservoir of experience that becomes a rich resource for learning and a broad base upon which they can relate new leanings,



Download as:   txt (23 Kb)   pdf (231.9 Kb)   docx (18.2 Kb)  
Continue for 13 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2011, 01). Pedagogy. Retrieved 01, 2011, from

"Pedagogy" 01 2011. 2011. 01 2011 <>.

"Pedagogy.", 01 2011. Web. 01 2011. <>.

"Pedagogy." 01, 2011. Accessed 01, 2011.