Malaysian English Language Educators Net

Pedagogy vs Andragogy

October 07, 2010 By: supyan Category: M. Issues

Pedagogy generally means the science of teaching. It focuses on methods and approaches that are based on principles, which are derived from theories.

Andragogy is the arts of teaching adult learners.  The approach is influenced by some basic teaching principles (pedagogical principles) and characteristics of adult learners.

To claim that ‘pedagogy is about teaching young children‘ and ‘andragogy is about teaching adults‘ is erroneous and misleading. It should not be  an issue of dichotomy. One is not necessarily better that than the other but one should complement each other.

To classify characteristics of pedagogy and andragogy as the following is also misleading.

Some people claimed that in “pedagogy”

  • Learners are called “students.”
  • Dependent learning style.
  • Objectives are predetermined and inflexible
  • It is assumed that the learners are inexperienced and/or uninformed.
  • Passive training methods, such as lecture, are used.
  • Trainer controls timing and pace.
  • Participants contribute little to the experience.
  • Learning is content-centered.
  • Trainer is seen as the primary resource who provides ideas and examples.Some other people claimed the characteristics of Andragogy are
  • Learners are called “participants” or “learners.”
  • Independent learning style.
  • Objectives are flexible.
  • It is assumed that the learners have experience to contribute.
  • Active training methods are used.
  • Learners influence timing and pace.
  • Participant involvement is vital.
  • Learning is real-life problem-centered.
  • Participants are seen as primary resources for ideas and examples.Hypothetically, these characteristics MAY BE TRUE but practically, they are not TRUE ALL THE TIME. It all depends on teachers’ competence and how teachers carry out their teaching.

These characteristics should not be seen as a set divine principles. Teachers should not adopt the above characteristics blindly or rigidly when they conduct their teaching either with young learners and adult learners. In fact, teachers should be able to rationalize specific principles they use in their teaching rather than to follow the so-called “classification of pedagogy and andragogy”. In brief, andragogy can be categorized as a subset of pedagogy.

However, knowing some characteristics of adult learners would help teachers to adjust their approaches in teaching, and therefore, making their teaching more effective.

Knowles’ theory of andragogy can be stated with six assumptions related to motivation of adult learning:

1. Adults need to know the reason for learning something (Need to Know)

2. Experience (including error) provides the basis for learning activities (Foundation).

3. Adults need to be responsible for their decisions on education; involvement in the planning and evaluation of their instruction (Self-concept).

4. Adults are most interested in learning subjects having immediate relevance to their work and/or personal lives (Readiness).

5. Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented (Orientation).

6. Adults respond better to internal versus external motivators (Motivation).

The term has been used by some to allow discussion of contrast between self-directed and ‘taught’ education

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