I found a wonderful blog this morning that reflects on the term andragogy (the teaching of adults as opposed to pedagogy, the teaching of children) and questions whether it should relate more to a type of learner rather than the age of the learner. The blogger is Gwen. She describes her blog as "a reflection on the educational process by teachers working to transform their work into a more learner-centered, evidence-based, andragogical affair. I love that.
Gwen suggests that the transition in a student from needing to be spoon-fed learning to a more independent state of seeking sometimes happens as early as middle school, while some adults in graduate school are still asking, "Is this on the test?"
The question is an excellent one and Gwen does a great job of putting it forth. In her examination of the word and its meaning, she puts responsibility on both the student and the teacher. The word andragogy then becomes a fluid term referring to that developmental point at which an individual student becomes able and interested in accepting responsibility for his or her own learning. The teacher's responsibility is to recognize when that has happened and respond accordingly, getting out of the student's way and providing the support needed for their individual pursuit.
I find this very exciting. What do the teachers out there think? I know you are already expected to be miracle workers, and this definition of andragogy adds one more dimension to your mighty list of expectations.
What do the adult students out there think? This has implications for you too. If you haven't already embraced responsibility for your own learning, it's time. Teachers of adults can't be expected to hold your hand.
Share your thoughts.