THEORY NAME: Andragogy
ASSOCIATED LEARNING THEORY / APPROACH
MODEL / DESCRIPTION
The notion of andragogy has been around for nearly two centuries. It became particularly popular in North America and Britain as a way of describing adult learning through the work of Malcolm Knowles. When adult education first became popular in the early 1900s, it was assumed that the same methods and techniques used to teach children could also be applied to adults. In fact, pedagogy has come to mean the art and science of teaching, even though its Greek root words actually mean leading children
The term andragogy was first used by a German grammar school teacher named Alexander Kapp in 1833 to describe the educational theory of the Greek philosopher Plato. He used it to refer to the normal process by which adults engage in continuing education (as opposed to basic remedial education for disadvantaged or handicapped adults.)
Kapp does not explain the term Andragogik, and it is not clear, whether he invented it or whether he borrowed it from somebody else. He does not develop a theory, but justifies ‘andragogy’ as the practical necessity of the education of adults. This may be the reason why the term lay fallow: other terms and ideas were available; the idea of adult learning was not unusual in that time around 1833, neither in Europe (enlightenment movement, reading-societies, workers education, educational work of churches, for example the Kolping-movement), nor in America (Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Lowell Institute in Boston, Lyceum movement, town libraries, museums, agricultural societies); all these existing initiatives had important dates between 1820-40 and their terminology, so a new term was not needed.
Kapp's use of andragogy had some currency but it was disputed, and fell into disuse. In the 20th century, John Dewey, Eduard Lindeman, and Martha Anderson all pursued theories of andragogy, but were largely ignored in the US. European educators were quicker to pursue andragogy than educators in the US, and by the early 1970's had many universities offering degrees with andragogy as a major specialization.
It reappeared in 1921 in a report by Rosenstock in which he argued that 'adult education required special teachers, methods and philosophy, and he used the term andragogy to refer collectively to these special requirements' (Nottingham Andragogy Group 1983: v). Eduard Lindeman was the first writer in English to pick up on Rosenstock's use of the term. The he only used it on two occasions.
In the 1920’s Germany, adult education became a field of theorizing. Especially a group of scholars from various subjects, the so-called ‘Hohenrodter Bund’, developed in theory and practice the ‘Neue Richtung’ (new direction) in adult education. Here some authors gave a second birth to the term ‘Andragogik’, now describing sets of explicit reflections related to the why, what for and how of teaching adults. But Andragogik was not used as “the Method of Teaching Adults”, as Lindeman (1926) mistakenly suggested in reporting his experiences at the Academy of Labor, Frankfurt, Germany. It was a sophisticated, theory-oriented concept, being an antonym to ‘demagogy’ - too difficult to handle, not really shared. So again it was forgotten. But a new object was shining up: a scholarly, academic reflection level ‘above’ practical adult education. The scholars came from various disciplines, working in adult education as individuals, not representing university institutes or disciplines. The idea of adult education as a discipline was not yet born.
It is not clear where the third wave of using andragogy originated. In the 1950’s andragogy suddenly can be found in publications in Switzerland (Hanselmann), Yugoslavia (Ogrizovic), the Netherlands (ten Have), Germany (Poeggeler). Still the term was known only to insiders, and was sometimes more oriented to practice, sometimes more to theory. Perhaps this mirrors the reality of adult education of that time:
There was no or little formal training for adult educators, some limited theoretical knowledge, no institutionalized continuity of developing such a knowledge, and no academic course of study. In this reality ‘Adult Education’ still described an unclear mixture of practice, commitment, ideologies, reflections, theories, mostly local institutions, and some academic involvement of individuals. As the reality was unclear, the term could not be any clearer. But the now increasing and shared use of the term signaled, that a new differentiation between ‘doing’ and ‘reflecting’ was developing, perhaps needing a separating term.
Knowles published his first article (1968) about his understanding of andragogy with the provocative title “Andragogy, Not Pedagogy.” Knowles’ concept of andragogy - ‘the art and science of helping adults learn’ - ‘is built upon two central, defining attributes: First, a conception of learners as self-directed and autonomous; and second, a conception of the role of the teacher as facilitator of learning rather than presenter of content’. Providing a unifying idea and identity, connected with the term andragogy, to the amorphous group of adult educators, certainly was the main benefit Knowles awarded to the field of adult education at that time. Another was that he strengthened the already existing scholarly access to adult education by publishing, theorizing, doing research, by educating students that themselves through academic research became scholars, and by explicitly defining andragogy as science
Andragogy makes the following assumptions about the design of learning:
Adults need to know why they need to learn something.
In practical terms, andragogy means that instruction for adults needs
to focus more on the process and less on the content being taught. Strategies
such as case studies, role playing, simulations, and self-evaluation
are most useful. Instructors adopt a role of facilitator or resource
rather than lecturer or grader.
CONDITIONS OF LEARNING / APPLICATION
ROLE OF THE FACILITATOR
In a constructive approach teachers should see themselves as facilitators and co-learners. Teachers must bear in mind, however, that learners are individuals with different life experiences and learning preferences. Some adult learners will still prefer the traditional pedagogical approach to teaching and learning. Teachers should respect that, and at the same time gradually try to push learners away from their comfort zone in the direction of a deeper approach to learning.
CONSTRUCTS / VARIABLES
RESOURCES (APA Style Citation)
Cross, K. P. (1981) Adults as Learners. Increasing participation and facilitating learning (1992 ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Henschke, John (2003): Andragogy Website http://www.umsl.edu/~henschke
Kapp, Alexander (1833): Platon’s Erziehungslehre, als Paedagogik für die Knowles, M. (1975). Self-Directed Learning. Chicago: Follet.
Knowles, M. (1984). The adult learner: A neglected species (3rd Ed.). Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing.
Knowles, M. (1984). Andragogy in Action. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Knowles, M., & Associates. (1984). Andragogy in Action. Applying modern principles of adult education. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
Knowles, Malcolm S. (1989): The Making of an Adult Educator. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Lindeman, Edward C. (1926). Andragogik: The Method of Teaching Adults. Workers’ Education, 4: 38.
Merriam, Sharan H. and Caffarella Rosemary S. (1999). Learning in Adulthood. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Zmeyov, Serguey (1998): Andragogy: Origins, Developments, Trends. International
Review of Education, 44 (1), p. 103-108.
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