October 16, 2007
Androgogy vs. Pedagogy: The Library as the peacemaker
[Source: Monograph, The Adult Learner (Knowles, 1998; ISBN 0884151158)]
Human learning is a vast field. Knowles book is a terrific attempt by him to wrap his head around, and lead the reader to do the same, in this field of knowledge transfer. A new theory is proposed, deservedly, from all his soul searching from Maslow to Carl Jung, trying to fathom human psychology before emerging out with his Androgogy Principles.
Androgogy is, crudely said, about the uniqueness of the learning in adults and it's implications, i.e. influence on design of instruction. An old classic, but quite an invigorating read.
I was sinking my teeth into this meaty concept of Androgogy and couldn't help reflecting. So far, in the middle of the book, I feel that Androgogy (adult learning) cannot be an institution separate from Pedagogy (child/youth learning). It can certainly be a prescribed way to approach and open minds of adults, but high class learning can take place in a pedagogical atmosphere.
To take one of Knowles' opening arguments in a chapter, he mentions how the great teachers of yore, i.e. Jesus Christ, Lao Tse, Confucious etc., were teachers of adults and not children. They were delivering instruction to minds which were quite occupied with daily chores, mores and mental blocks. Their approach to delivering what they delivered can be taken as the founding examples of Androgogy (I use Androgogy now to imply adult education learning models/theory and teaching styles). To extend the thread of these great teachers of masses, they did also profess their followers to rise beyond the characteristics that made them different than children. They urged them to return to the state of child-like innocence to truly absorb the message they professed.
In other words, although the approach to the new seekers was andrological by the ways of addressing their adult-issues, there was a constant reminder to rise above these adult-issues for efficient learning. Learning, where the rules of the games change BACK to pedagogy! The true masters did make it clear b alluding to purity of heart, purity of mind that the learners rid themselves of the adult-blocks.
In the modern world, where adults attempt to learn, the learning may or may not happen most efficiently. The con of embracing Androgogy too tightly might be the result that the adult-learner may get pampered, the standards of instruction and evaluations may fall. But that is a case when the instructors choose to let the learners get away. I have seen, so far, that by specifically not allowing separate standards for students in the executive degree programs (more scopr for Androgogy) and residential degree programs (more Pedagogically heavy), the faculty are challenging the adult learners to cope with the pedagogical framework. This is fair to all the students, residential or executive.
This is the place where the library can fill the necessary gaps in the imposed instructional method and the adult-learner's true capacity by making androgogical offerings in the form of supplemental instruction, higher accessibility to resources, better quality on-demand content and accomodation of learning style of the students.
On the faculty development front, the library would retrofit the pedagogical instructor's teaching style with enhancements inspired by androgogical teaching theories.
ps. As an after-thought, I realized that it is very easy for someone not familiar with the term, Androgogy, to associate it with less stringent educational standards. This is open to interpretation in my opinion. The open-ness and accomodation that Androgogy can provide to adults will help adults, but may make younger learners more lenient. So I feel that the strategies of adult learning applied to children may hinder their development. They do not have the life-challenges, so the accomodations may become a precursor to slower paced learning.
I remember, that I got better grades when I took 12 credit hours at grad school in a semester, than in the semester when I took 8 or 9. And I saw that the pressure of more work, at some equilibrium point, will produce higher quality work. Too little work is as counter-productive as too much work.
Posted by rdivecha at October 16, 2007 12:05 AM