Students As Teachers: Moving From Pedagogy To Andragogy
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Moving From Pedagogy To Andragogy

This weekend was dedicated to servicing my truck. It was time for an oil filter, air filter, and fuel filter change. I decided that I would ask my son if he wanted to help and, like always, he eagerly joined me in the garage. I expected that the time would be used mostly explaining to him how to service the truck, demonstrating the task, making corrections, and expecting him to strictly follow my guidance.

Having an Instructional Design and K12 background I considered myself to be knowledgeable on the theories and approaches to child learning. In previous chores around the house involving time with my son, lessons where focused more as a pedagogical approach.

This time working on the truck was going to be different, but that difference wasn’t to be determined by me.

Photo taken by Olga Bock / Edit by Phillip Bock in Adobe Photoshop

The Pedagogical Model Of Instruction

To understand the importance of my story and what I learned from my son, let’s first look at the primary methodologies of teaching. The pedagogical model of instruction was designed for monastic schools in the Middle Ages. Children, specifically boys, were taken into the monasteries and lectured by monks in a system of instruction that demanded children display obedience, faith, and as conduct themselves as competent servants of the church. This system and methodology developed the tradition of Pedagogy.

The etymology of Pedagogy is derived from the Greeks, basically meaning child leading. This is why Pedagogy has been defined as the science of teaching children. In a pedagogical approach, the teacher or instructor has full responsibility for making decisions about what will be learned, how it will be learned, when it will be learned, and if the material has been learned. Pedagogy, instructor-led or teacher-directed instruction as it is commonly known, places the learner in submissive roles that demand strict adherence to the teacher's instructions. Pedagogy is based on the assumption that learners need to know only what the teacher teaches them. The end result is a teaching and learning that promotes dependency on the instructor.

The pedagogical model has begun to shift and is no longer predominantly being used equally in the teaching of children and adults. Adults are increasingly independent and responsible for their own actions. They are motivated to learn by a need to solve problems in their lives. Adults also have a need to be self-directing. The pedagogical model does not account for such developmental changes on the part of adults, which can produce tension, resentment, and resistance in individuals.

The Andragogical Model Of Instruction

The development of Andragogy as a different model of instruction helps remedy pedagogical approaches, and improves the teaching of adults. Andragogy derived from the Greeks and essentially means "adult learner". Approximately 30 years ago, Andragogy was designed as a system of ideas, concepts, and approaches to adult learning in the United States by Malcolm Knowles. Malcolm Knowles influenced the thinking of countless educators with dialogue, debate, and subsequent writings related to andragogy. These concepts have served as a stimulant to some of the growth of the adult education field during the past 30 years.

The Paradigm Shift

Now that we understand the different approaches, let me explain what my son taught me this weekend. While working on the truck, I began to take a pedagogical approach to teaching him. This was a perfect model to use because he is 10 years old, he has no real immediate need for this information, he isn’t motivated by the lesson or work, and he will require me to help direct his actions. I was the experienced expert. I could not have been more wrong in my assumption. I could immediately see in my lecture-based approach that his attention was beginning to drift. He seemed increasingly frustrated that I wouldn’t let him work on the truck and that he had to sit, listen, and watch.

Eventually, he spoke up and stated that one day he was going to drive the truck just like me, and that he wanted to be able to fix the truck as well. Though not an immediate need for the knowledge, he recognized the importance of it because he had a goal to drive one day. He also recognized he would need to maintain the truck as well as operate it. My son -at 10 years old- was making a paradigm shift in his learning. He was no longer able to focus, and accept the fact that the task had to be completed because I said so. He had become self-directed in his learning because he wanted to show me his ability to comprehend the information, as well as be able to drive one day. He displayed higher levels of understanding and critical thinking.

I needed to change my way of thinking and instructing to meet his needs as a learner. I began to use multiple techniques from my Andragogy tool box. He immediately became increasingly more satisfied. I used Socratic questioning to probe his comprehension, and to get him to critically think through topics like combustion, friction, and timing. I allowed him to determine what steps, precautions, and materials would be needed for each task.

Final Words

This was an amazing experience for me and enabled me to further understand the relationship between Pedagogy and Andragogy as no longer linear with a defined entrance and exit point, but rather as fluid and dynamic and relationship. I, now, understand that based on the cognitive ability and aptitude of the learner, they could easily fall at the beginning, middle, or end of a spectrum of learning. Though this may seem obvious in concept, the key take away is the assumptions we place on learners that can involuntarily disrupt their learning. Yes, my son is ten, however this does not mean he has to functionally learn in a pedagogical model because of age or relevancy to the material. Learners should continuously be assessed to ensure proper instructional strategies are being used. Instructional Design should never be so rigid that it can not be adapted to specific learners.

I just thought this was neat how it unfolded and had to share. Thank you to my son, Jesse, for helping me understand this topic more thoroughly and enabling me to become a better Instructional system Designer and father.