Archive for May, 2015

Pedagogy v Andragogy … v Humanagogy?

Monday, May 4th, 2015

A colleague recently drew my attention to an article, “Pedagogy vs. Andragogy: A False Dichotomy?”. (Being a person with a Reflector-Theorist learning style) I found it a fascinating read.

These two terms are often used to describe, respectively, how children learn and how adults learn. As the article explains, “The term (Pedagogy) is derived from the Greek words ‘paid’, meaning ‘child’ and ‘agogus’ meaning ‘leader of’ …. Andragogy is based on the Greek word ‘aner’ with the stem ‘andra’ meaning ‘man, not boy’ or adult, and ‘agogus’ meaning ‘leader of’”.

I have been a strong supporter of Andragogy for many years and always include it in Train the Trainer programmes I deliver. When I explain it, I tend to call it the Principles of Adult Learning.

I have also always been mildly uncomfortable with the term Andragogy, as I am aware that the approach is equally relevant to the development of learning for children – not just adults. It also implies that adults are easily able to embrace its principles, and I am aware from experience that this is not always the case.

It is, therefore, more about the group of people we as trainers or facilitators are leading, and the article introduces a term that I have not come across before – Humanagogy. The term was introduced by Knudson in 1980 and the article explains, “Unlike the separate terms of pedagogy and andragogy, humanagogy represents the differences as well as the similarities that exist between both adults and children as learning human beings. It approaches human learning as a matter of degree, not kind.” The emphasis here is moving the focus from an aged based assessment to an assessment comprising a wider range of criteria, such as subject matter, learning styles of the individuals, their level of motivation to learn, etc., but also including age.

This approach links very well with Heron’s 6 Dimensions of Facilitator Style. Heron’s model, as I explain here, is all about the facilitator considering the needs of the group in 6 discrete areas (Dimensions) and then deciding throughout the session whether their style should be Hierarchical (predominantly pedagogical), Co-operative, or Autonomous (predominantly Andragogical).

For me, Heron’s model develops the Humanagogical approach from a 2-D model to a 3-D model. It does this by explicitly indicating that whilst the initial assessment of the group’s needs in a way that matches with Knudson’s Humanagogy is entirely appropriate, this situation needs to be continually re-assessed by the facilitator – almost on a minute by minute basis, based on the group’s reactions and actions – in order to maximise the learning taking place.

I would have to agree with the article’s authors, Geraldine Holmes and Michele Abington-Cooper, that the terms Pedagogy and Andragogy do create a false dichotomy. Perhaps it should be a continuum with Humanagogy in the middle?

I will definitely be including Humanagogy in my future inputs and discussions on this topic.

Throughout the planning for and delivery of any session, the needs and motivations of the individuals have to be paramount. Any model, theory or discussion that helps facilitators understand, recognise, include and manage these needs has to be useful.

What are your thoughts?