ED 610 Week Three (Fall 2022)

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to Week Three in our ED 610 Unmasking the Adult Learner class.


Hi everyone,

This week we will be describing the difference between andragogy and pedagogy. Near the end of the lecture there is a chapter from Knowles’ book that makes that comparison. While this is a great starting place, I think you will find that much of Knowles’ writing makes assumptions about the distinction between subjects and objects (between learner and a shared external realty that consists of objects) that we probably should be challenging — especially given what we have learned over the last number of years from neuroscience. Of course, it isn’t really a problem to talk about learning and learning theories as Knowles does — much of our current discourse is still embedded in a rather dated understanding of human beings. Furthermore, it is more fun to poke around some ideas that might challenge, or add to, what Knowles purports.

Thus, even though you could jump down to Part 3, read the Andragogy VS Pedagogy chapter and call it good, I hope you will join me and poke around at some ideas and have a bit of fun with this. Ultimately, I hope to show aspects of adult learning (and all learning) that we don’t normally talk about, and that might begin to change the way we think about learning in general. I think you will find that as we play around with these ideas we might even put into question many of the pedagogical practices we are using in school.

I wanted you to begin your Work In Progress before I launched into some of these analyses. I am hoping you will think about the way these ideas resonate with what you are feeling when you learn something for the fun of it.

I want to begin by considering understanding and the way that we already have structures of understanding before we can learn or perceive. But I probably won’t get to these aspects or structures of understanding until next week. This week, though, I will start off with the idea of familiarity and the importance of familiarity in our learning. This idea will be particularly relevant as we begin to compare andragogy with pedagogy because adults simply are more familiar with more of what they are attempting to learn than children are when they are being told what to learn.

Let me play around with this idea of familiarity with some music examples. I will begin with the feeling of being “drawn-in.’

Part I

If you were to choose your own favorite song, or perhaps one of your favorites from the past and then listened to it, you will recognize the feeling of being drawn in. Maybe you have experienced something like this: a song you haven’t heard for a while starts playing and all of a sudden you are lost in the music, no longer thinking about your surroundings. You want to keep the feeling and resist disengaging from the music. Perhaps you have just pulled up on your driveway and the song starts playing on the radio. And you sit there and you listen.

You are ‘drawn-in’ to the song.

I want to consider the idea of “drawing others in.”

Musicians, singers, songwriters, poets, storytellers, painters and the like, try to keep their audience ‘in’ the performance. I include story, painting and other creative products as performance. It is important to keep your audience engaged — held, drawn-in.

Drawing Others In

What is it that allows you to be drawn into a song? Consider the following song. I chose this one because I am pretty sure you are familiar with the song.


Somewhere Over The Rainbow_What A Wonderful World


As you listened, perhaps you were drawn-in. Why is that? Was there a familiarity with the music, with the song? Was the melody familiar? Was the rhythm familiar? Did you feel the music or the rhythm move your body, or at least did you feel as though you were moving inside?

I will pick another song with similarities to the last one. Perhaps you have heard this song. If not, you will find a similarity to the last. You will notice that the rhythm is similar. Four-four time, slightly accented on the second and fourth beat, some syncopation with the vocal line.


Jason Mraz – I’m Yours


Did you feel drawn in? Did you feel as though your body relaxed? Perhaps. Perhaps not. If this is a song you listed to in the past, perhaps you have a particular relationship to it. If nothing else, you had a sense of familiarity with the music.


Let me pick a song that you probably haven’t heard. I think you might be drawn in. I think you will have a sense of familiarity even if you don’t recognize the song.

See if you are drawn into the song.

The Wailin’ Jennys – One Voice (Live on eTown)


It is easier to be drawn-in if there is a familiarity with that which we are perceiving.

Consider the formulaic writing that goes into much of the popular music we are exposed to.

Sir Mashalot: Mind-Blowing SIX Song Country Mashup


But what happens when familiarity is absent. Consider the following. Feel your response. Feel your reaction. Do you feel drawn-in?



Can we draw any insights from the way familiarity plays out in our experience of music and the way familiarity plays out in our learning? Is there some reason my middle school math experience felt like enduring avant garde music and not like rocking with a county hit? I digress . . . .


Let me share something else with you. I think you will find this very interesting.  It is from a Radio Lab show.


Radio Lab (http://www.radiolab.org/)

Are you familiar with Radio Lab? There is a short program that I ask that you listen to. The point in the program is to consider what happens to people when their brains try to make sense of things but the context is such that creating patterns is very difficult. In a round about way I am trying to make the connection to what happens in school when we are placed in an environment whereby we are unable to make patterns when we lack understanding. Please have a listen. (if the player doesn’t work on this page please go to: http://www.radiolab.org/2007/sep/24/sound-as-touch/)



Let’s move from music to art instruction. It would seem that the instructor is quite aware of the importance of ‘drawing students in.’


Notice what Ian Roberts says below at 2:20: “What you want to do is to keep the view inside your picture plane.”

The #1 Composition Rule You Cannot Break



It seems as though, purposefully or not, there is a deliberate, intentional attempt to draw the audience in. How important is this “drawing-in” for the student? How is story used? How is context filled in? How does the instructor place you in the story?

How does painting draw us in? What does that mean?

Transmitting or Drawing In

In our typical teaching discourse, we talk as if we are transmitting something to students rather than drawing them in.

What do we draw others into when we talk about “drawing-others-in”? We are drawing them into a context. It is the context that gives something meaning. And for us to perceive something meaningfully, we have to be able to perceive the context. The storyteller continually provides us with context. It gives meaning to the characters’ lives. The musician is continually providing us with context — a familiarity of sounds, familiar rhythms, and familiar chord progressions. Our familiarity with context draws us in in ways that the unfamiliar (as noted in the previous avant garde song) is unable to do. Of course, if we become very familiar with the Avant Garde context we might very well be ‘drawn in’ to the music or sound scape. This is to say that avant-garde musicians enjoy avant-garde music in ways that the novice or uninitiated are able to do.

Understanding context helps us have the feeling of familiarity. Imagine walking into someone’s home. You know immediately if it feels familiar and comfortable. Imagine meeting someone for the first time. You usually know quickly if you are comfortable and if you share experiences, qualities, beliefs, etc. This familiarity with context helps us feel drawn-in. It helps us feel engaged.

We don’t often talk about drawing students into our lessons as well as we might. Perhaps we need to have a language that talks about ‘drawing-in’.


The Language of Teaching

We talk about teaching in different ways. We have teaching theories that talk about teaching in a variety of ways. If we were to make some kind of simple distinction between teaching philosophies (or theories of teaching methodologies) we could distinguish between ‘teaching-as-transmission’ and ‘teaching-as-mentorship’ (or apprenticeship).

The two are easy to distinguish. The contexts are different.

Teaching-as-transmission, in rather simple terms, is based on the idea that we transmit or transfer knowledge or information from teacher to student. Of course, it is much more complex than this. But for our purposes, we can quite easily tell if a teacher, including ourselves, is acting as a transmitter of knowledge and information.

When we adopt a transmission model, we find that the things we are trying to teach are often disconnected from context. Let me give you an example:

Please note, I know my examples aren’t the best, but these are examples that I was able to find for now.

In the following video, we will see many of the different and important art elements are covered. But as you watch this, notice how the elements are covered. Each addressed out of context, even though there are activities incorporated.

You might want to jump to 1:52

ELEMENTARY ART CURRICULUM || Evan-Moor How to Teach Art to Children


As an adult, when you are learning on your own, you are probably always trying to fill in context. One of the differences between pedagogy and andragogy is that adults want to know why. “Why am I learning this? What does this mean to/for me?” And because the learners are adults, the teachers make an effort to provide enough of the context so that the ‘why’ or the ‘in-order-to’ becomes obvious. Children want to know why too. Indeed, spend time with any pre-schooler and it seems the ‘why’ is one of the most common questions. But, as we know, many pedagogical approaches (not all) based on the transmission model, discourage the questions.

We can notice in the above “How To Teach Art To Children” that important art concepts are addressed. But notice also how each concept, whether line, space, form, texture, color, is taken out of meaningful or interesting contexts and addressed on their own. It is a bit like teaching a student that pi is 3.14 and can be used in formulas without placing it in meaningful contexts. It is a bit like teaching a child to memorize the definitions for the three branches of government without providing them meaningful context.

Below is a watercolor artist, Frank Clarke. As you watch some of his video, notice how everything he teaches is embedded in a context.

For example, the elements he talks about are always embedded in, or connected to, a purpose, or a material, or a form, or a situation, or a bodily experience or movement. We might use a simple frame such as this (below) to begin to analyze what is going on in the teaching. Of course, our frame would eventually be far more elaborate — especially for experienced artists — but I offer this as an initial step.

I will refer to Material, Purpose, Form, Situations, and Body Experience as modalities. If a teacher wanted to help a student understand something about a painting, each of the modalities would have to be present.


Examine what Mr. Clarke does in his video. See how the different painting elements are addressed. Notice how each of my framework’s modalities are addressed.


Frank Clarke Simply Painting Introduction to Watercolour 


Mr. Clarke is telling us things (filling in context), but he is also drawing us in. We are invited to imitate. We are encouraged to accept him as our model. That which is explained is connected to other modalities. For example, if we are told something about the brushes (Materials) we are also told how our body (Body Experience) experiences or uses the brush. We are also told about the purpose, and the way the brush will contribute to the development of the form. We are never told to simply do a de-contextualized task. Everything is contextualized. We always (or almost always) get the sense of why (Purpose) we are doing something.

Context confers meaning. Every sane human being strives for meaning. Andragogy honors meaning, context, and purpose. Adults feel disconnect as much as children. However, adults are more likely to expect to know the meaning.

Context is necessary for understanding.


Part II

Teaching-as-mentorship VS Teaching-as-transmission


Teaching-as-mentorship is something that we have a pretty good sense of. We recognize the environment as one in which a mentor is inviting another person into their lives so that the learner can become ‘like’ the mentor (or act as the mentor). This is easy to contrast with teacher-as-transmitter of information.


Knowledge. That’s a good thing, right?

I should mention something that is not always easy to recognize and is seldom talked about — and that is the difference between knowledge and understanding.

I would like to talk about ‘understanding’ and show how ‘understanding’ plays a role in our distinction between pedagogy and andragogy. I will try to show, in as little time as possible, why ‘understanding’ is a logical connection between pedagogy and andragogy and one of the reasons why many people come to the conclusion that our andragogical practices could (or even should) be incorporated into all school grades.

There is also another claim that I am going to make, and one that I hope you will find useful. That is, that one of the things we lack in teacher training is a language that articulates ‘understanding’ leaving us often at a loss to talk sensibly with one another when it comes to student learning. By the end of today’s lecture, I hope that this necessary language not only makes good sense but also reveals a serious shortcoming in the training of teachers.

There are a number of strands here, so let me begin by piecing things together.

The Known and the Knower

Let me begin by talking briefly about the transmission model of communication and teaching. This is important for us on a number of different fronts. Many of the teaching theories that we encounter are based on a transmission model of communication and teaching. Many of the opposing theories (for example Frank Smith’s classic theory of learning, Paulo Freire’s opposition to the banking method, and Van Manen’s discourse on care) see the transmission model as inadequate or outright wrong.

What allows a transmission model to come into existence anyway? One of the most important reasons is our idea of knowledge. When we talk about knowledge we think of knowing something. That probably sounds sensible to most of us. We have always talked about knowledge. But the idea of ‘knowledge’ does something to the way we think of teaching and learning and communication. With knowledge comes the idea that there is something known and a knower. There is an external (world) and an internal mind. We talk of finding ways of getting the external world into the brain or the mind. This idea has been around for thousands of years. This sounds completely sensible for most of us because it is part of our discourse. With an inside and outside (external world and mind) teaching and learning are thought of as transmitting and then mirroring that which is outside of the person and transferring it into the person. This results in many problems. One of the most significant is that learning can be thought of as the acquisition of knowledge — something that can then be narrowly assessed and referred to as learning gains. Of course, over and over again we find students who have demonstrated learning gains (as we have defined them) and yet demonstrate very little understanding. As an example of this, I have asked close to 200 first and second-year undergraduate students to explain what a variety of fifth and sixth-grade math and science concepts mean and a very small percentage of students have any idea. Pi will be remembered as 3.14 but little more can be said about it. Students will lack any recall over many of the most important science concepts and yet an understanding of these most basic concepts would be necessary to engage in any meaningful scientific discourse.

The point I am trying to make (and knowingly glossing over very quickly) is that even with our best teaching intentions, and our most sophisticated assessment tools, our students are often left with forgotten knowledge and little if any understanding.

We can recognize this model in our teaching theories (something we will look at today in Knowles’ book) by taking note of the metaphors used to describe the theories. We can also note the way we talk about teaching in schools and find numerous metaphors that point to our belief in the transmission model.

Our transmission model of teaching and communication, one that emphasizes moving (transmitting) knowledge and information from the outside to the inside (mind) has underserved our students when it comes to understanding (and the ability to generalize — transfer). The context can interfere with the articulation of understanding.



When we talk about teaching-as-mentorship the metaphors we use to describe teaching change. We talk more about sharing, mentoring and communicating that which leads to understanding.

The cook and the artist might share their creation with others, but the act of teaching is to invite another into their world — to understand the act of creating as they do.

To understand a creation (such as a meal, a painting, an artifact) we have to come to know how the creation came into being unless we are to say it was quite by accident in which case we would have very little to share with another other than the context.

Teaching is about sharing (communicating) well-defined contexts. One should know that these contexts are not definitive, but they are adequate enough to be shared. Modeling, by the way, simplifies shared understanding.



While knowledge may be necessary, it is not sufficient for understanding, and thus not for claiming to be educated.

Knowing that pi is 3.14 is a form of propositional knowledge when stated by a student, can well be assessed to be a learning gain, but it lacks sufficient context to be thought of as understanding. That I can name this meal before me as chicken cordon bleu, or this painting as a Van Gogh, or this composition as one by Chopin, may be important in the movement toward understanding and can be thought of as necessary knowledge or information, it is not sufficient to be thought of as understanding.


Food Preparation

When we imagine teaching adults, we can further the distinctions we make by contrasting two important but very different food preparation careers.

Let us consider the chef and the short-order cook. As I mentioned, both are important, and yet we can begin to consider how the contexts differ between the two.



Chef Joël Robuchon: Life & Cooking Philosophy | 传奇一生


Jiro Dreams of Sushi (8/11) Movie CLIP – Making Egg Sushi (2011) HD


Cooking with Carla & Jacques: Let’s cook!


TED, short order cook @ Wade’s Diner in Oswego Ny.




IHOP line cook


Busy breakfast cook line , BUSY , Part 1


Are Your Restaurant Cooks Too Slow?


Let me share with you the same framework I provided in the earlier example.
I will use the example of the Chef to make this example very easy to understand. I do have another motive here that I should share with you. I am using the example of a chef because I believe educators are like chefs. But if educators are not shown how to think like chefs, they are likely being trained to think and act like short-order cooks. Please know that the purpose of this is not to diminish the work that short-order cooks do. Short-order cooks work hard and provide a valuable service. But the expectations between the two are different. I want to contrast these expectations and show how teacher training institutions have expectations that seem to liken teachers and teaching to short-order cooking environments.
We can take any entity, whether it is something like a pen, a cup, having students form a single line preparing to go to an assembly in the school auditorium, a fork, a movie, a textbook, a concept such as pi, or a c major chord, or the three branches of government. We can talk about the entity by way of each of the aspects of Purpose, Material, Form, Situation, and Body Experience.
Now, of course, each of these aspects deserves a great deal of analysis and consideration. But I think the idea is simple enough here. We will try to keep it simple for now.
The next claim I want to make is this, educators have to concern themselves with this framework. Having a concern for all of the aspects given distinguishes the teacher from the technician. Why is that? Why is it that the educator has to be concerned with all of these aspects? The reason is that all of these aspects working together constitute understanding. And education, being the development of a depth and breadth of understanding, necessitates a cognition of all of the aspects.
Why the chef example? It is easy to witness that chefs concern themselves with each of the modalities. When chefs talk about their creations, each of the modalities are addressed at some point. If two chefs were talking with each other or with other knowledgeable people, all the modalities would be discussed.
Contrast this with two teenagers or unknowledgeable people talking about cooking, only a few of the modalities will be talked about and likely in rather superficial ways. Why? Lack of experience? Lack of knowledge? Lack of understanding?
Let us contrast the chef with the short-order cook. We can see how their respective experiences can be very different when the modalities change. If the purpose emphasizes efficiency, then the cook’s experience is very different.
Consider if you will the training undertaken by the chef as compared to the short-order cook. The modalities are seen to be different and of course the outcome is different.
Have our teacher training institutions been creating short-order cooks? Are schooling institutions conceiving of teachers as short-order cooks?
I guess I could call it the short-order teacher.

Part III

Enough now about music, chefs, and artists. Let’s get to some of the history and research. We should probably ensure we are filling in our own context as far as adult education goes.

Previously, we considered some of the differences between pedagogy and andragogy. We touched on some of the principles supporting andragogical practices. And, we touched on working with adult learners.

Regardless of our specific line of inquiry or our future dealings with adult learners, to say that we have an academic background or expertise in adult learning would require that we have some knowledge of the history of adult learning.

There are many books on the history of andragogy. However, I have found an article where the author does a good job of laying this history out for us. If you have a particular interest in the history of adult learning you will find many references at the end of the article that will point you in the direction of additional reading and research if you so desire. I will provide you here with what I believe to be a minimum reading, knowing that this will level of understanding will be sufficient for many of you.

The article is called “Beginnings of the History and Philosophy of Andragogy 1833-2000.” It is only about 35 pages, excluding the references. So it is not very long. But after reading this, you will have a good sense of just how long adult learning has been considered a relevant field of study and some of the evolutionary aspects and how they played out historically.

Now, having said this, if you are finding yourself a bit rushed for time, I would suggest that you forego the following article and jump down to A Summary and Chapter from Knowles.

Here is the link to the first article if you have time and are so inclined to read it:

Beginnings of the History and Philosophy of Andragogy 1833-2000



A Summary and Chapter from Knowles

As I mentioned earlier, you can access Knowles’ book for free on our ebooks Central site at the WOU Library. Since we all have access, I will upload specific readings here.

Now, rather than asking you to read the first three chapters in Knowles’ The Adult Learner, I will provide a bit of a summary here and then provide an important chapter worth reading that contrasts pedagogy and andragogy.

There is a possibility that the first three chapters of the book might be important for some you to read, and less important for others. Let me provide a few highlights and then ask that you do read few pages from the fourth chapter that I believe are very important to all of us studying adult learning.

As you know already, it is thought that Malcolm Knowles made an important contribution to the organization of adult learning in the early 1970s. The work seemed somewhat groundbreaking at the time and was the impetus for a good deal of subsequent research and even controversy.

In the first chapter Knowles writes:

Our position is that andragogy presents core principles of adult learning that in turn enable those designing and conducting adult learning to build more effective learning processes for adults. It is a transactional model in that it speaks to the characteristics of the learning transaction, not to the goals and aims of that transaction. (All of the following quotations in this section come from Knowles, Malcolm S., et al. The Adult Learner: The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development, Taylor & Francis Group, 2005).

As I think you know, a transactional learning environment is one where experiences and interactions between people take precedence over the delivery of information.

As such, [andragogy] is applicable to any adult learning transaction, from community education to human resource development in organizations.

In other words, Knowles makes clear that understanding andragogy and the adult learning principles associated with andragogy is important for almost any environment whereby adult learning is deemed to be an important component. However, there are many people in organizations, such as Human Resource Officer or business training consultants for example, who might place an emphasis on the goals or purposes of the learning activities rather than on the learning itself. This is something to be avoided.

Care must be taken to avoid confusing core principles of the adult learning transaction with the goals and purposes for which the learning event is being conducted. They are conceptually distinct, though as a practical matter may overlap considerably p. 10.

This distinction is fairly important in Knowles’ theory. He makes it quite clear that the core adult learning principles are distinct from the goals and purposes for learning and the individual and situational differences. This diagram helps show this distinction:

Having said that, these core principles are also incomplete in terms of learning decisions. Figure 1-1 graphically shows that andragogy is a core set of adult learning principles. The six principles of andragogy are (1) the learner’s need to know, (2) self-concept of the learner, (3) prior experience of the learner, (4) readiness to learn, (5) orientation to learning, and (6) motivation to learn. These principles are listed in the center of the model. . . [T]here are a variety of other factors that affect adult learning in any particular situation and may cause adults to behave more or less closely to the core principles. These include individual learner and, situational differences, and goals and purposes of learning, shown in the two outer rings of the model.

This synoptic view of Knowles’ theory gives us a little better sense of some of the dynamics we have to keep in mind as we think about adult learning. The interesting point he makes by providing a core set of principles is that even though the learning goals, purposes, or situations might change from context to context, the core adult learning principles transcend these different contexts. The core, while rather static in nature, can accommodate the different purposes or situations rather than having to change for each changing situation.

Andragogy works best in practice when it is adapted to fit the uniqueness of the learners and the learning situation. We see this not as a weakness of the principles, but as a strength. Their strength is that these core principles apply to all adult learning situations, as long they are considered in concert with other factors that are present in the situation p. 3.

To begin an exploration into andragogy, Knowles suggests we should be clear on the theory that we are using or developing for our own justification of adult learning. Theory is important, as we see, because of the variety of ways we understand learning. He spends some time defining theory. Simply put:

From these excerpts and perspectives, we can see that a theory can be a guiding set of assumptions (Kidd), an ordering system that neatly summarizes the facts (Hilgard and Bower), and/or assumptions, generalizations, and hypotheses (McGregor). p. 10

Once we are clear that we will need a guiding set of assumptions, and that these assumptions will justify our understanding of andragogy, we can start to examine ‘learning.’ Because, as mentioned earlier, learning has so many different ways of being defined, a guiding set of assumptions are necessary because everything we talk about will hinge on how we define learning. But, as we find, this is not an easy task.

For us personally, in our endeavor to better understand adult learning and to be able to speak intelligibly about adult learning, we should have at least a superficial understanding of a number of accounts if we are to place ourselves in one particular camp. But which camp?

The learning theories that Knowles discusses were all developed prior to 2000. On the one hand, this will prove to be problematic because we currently have learning theories that have come out of neuroscience that will put some of the earlier theories into question. On the other hand, the learning theories most common in schools will most likely find their rationale from 20th-century theories with ideas and metaphors that even go back to Ancient Greece. But more on that later.

After having stated the importance of understanding theory and recognizing the distinction between the purposes and situational differences and the adult learning principles, Knowles leads us into a quick distinction between education and learning. This, he says, is necessary to begin a proper analysis of learning. He writes:

Any discussion of a definition of learning must be prefaced with an important and frequently made distinction— the one between education and learning. Education is an activity undertaken or initiated by one or more agents that is designed to effect changes in the knowledge, skill, and attitudes of individuals, groups, or communities. The term emphasizes the educator, the agent of change who presents stimuli and reinforcement for learning and designs activities to induce change. The term learning, by contrast, emphasizes the person in whom the change occurs or is expected to occur. Learning is the act or process by which behavioral change, knowledge, skills, and attitudes are acquired (Boyd, Apps, et al., pp. 100– 101).

We conclude that a theory is a comprehensive, coherent, and internally consistent system of ideas about a set of phenomena. We also acknowledge the distinction between education and learning. Education emphasizes the educator, whereas learning emphasizes the person in whom the change occurs or is expected to occur. Although this distinction is easily understood, developing a working definition of learning is much more complex. Key components of learning theorists’ definitions of learning serve as the foundation for our discussion of the definition of learning. These include change, filling a need, learning as product, learning as process, learning as function, natural growth, control, shaping, development of competencies, fulfillment of potential, personal involvement, self-initiated, learner evaluated, independent learning, and learning domains. We define learning as the process of gaining knowledge and/or expertise p. 17.

Chapter Three delves into learning theories — and there are a lot. Here is my suggestion regarding learning theories: We have a number of things to keep in mind:

  1. Knowles lists over 60 different learning theorists. We could easily devote a year to studying these different theories and still have more to learn. While learning theories are necessary for us in the development of our own adult learning theories, we wouldn’t have time in this class to devote to this study. Having said this though, there may be some of you who recognize that this is an important component of your development so you will want to at least read Knowles Chapter Three Theories of Learning.
  2. The bulk of the learning theories to which Knowles refers come out of psychology. This is problematic in its own right. The psychology literature lacks scientific rigor (according to many scientists and psychologists), and the concepts are often thought to be scientifically unverifiable. I will speak more to this in a future lecture, but let me at least give a quick explanation of what this means. Historically, the terms that were adopted by psychologists were made up of mental introspection rather than scientific observation. For example, “after a great deal of introspection, I believe I have something in my head that I call attendere. It is this feeling of attraction that I feel whenever I get close to a bowl of ice cream. It happens every time, and not only to me. Others have also talked about something similar. We must have something in our mind that I will refer to now as attendere. I made that up. But other ideas have come up in similar ways. For example, consciousness, memory, knowledge, will, motivation, or any number of the psychological terms we use. In the 1800s when William James, one of the founding fathers of psychology, compiled many of the introspective derived terms of the time into his two-volume 1200 page work called The Principles of Psychology, the terms he specified stuck. After that, and even to this day in many studies, research adopts those terms and then tries to find evidence verifying the rational substantiated by the terms. This is to say that if my ‘attendere’ term seemed to make sense to other researchers, they would then presume that ‘attendere’ actually existed and would then do research studies to verify that rats also had ‘attendere’ because they, too, seemed to be attracted to ice cream. We can follow some of these ideas right back to Plato and Aristotle and considerations of the mind. Furthermore, as educators adopted psychology’s findings, they simply started to use terms and then treat them as if there were some scientific bases to what was being said. “But can’t we see that motivation is something real?” one might ask. When scientists come up with an idea such as gravity, even though they can’t actually see it, there is a common agreement to what it means. There is not common agreement on the mentalist terms we use in psychology or education. Ask 10 different educators or psychologists what knowledge, or memory, motivation or will is and you will get a wide variety of answers. That’s why theories are important. The theory provides the context for meaning. 
  3. The last thing to keep in mind (that I can think of right now) is that even though schools and educational institutions are late in adopting the latest brain research or are slow at giving up preconceived ideas, there is some interesting work in neuroscience and neurobiology that might offer us something a bit more innovative in terms of how we understand adult education. We will try to launch into a bit of that as well.

So, given what I have just said, you will have to decide whether you think it is of value and interest to you to study in a bit of depth the learning theories Knowles discusses in Chapter Three. If you are planning on teaching adult learning in a college or university, I would say that this is worth knowing. If you are not, then you might wish to forego that piece right now. At least you are aware of it.

Andragogy and Pedagogy: The Comparison

We now move into Chapter 4, and there is something in this chapter that is, I think, of value to all of us in our study of adult learning — that is a comparison between pedagogy and andragogy. I know that a couple of you have already started exploring the idea of using andragogical methods for youngsters. And, in the past, I have had students wonder out loud why we are not incorporating more andragogical methods in our classrooms.

This chapter will help you think through some of these ideas. Also, we are all familiar with pedagogy, as is any other educator we talk with. When asked about andragogy it can be helpful for us to be able to contrast it directly with pedagogy.

I have included a short section from the last section of Knowles’ Chapter 4. Some of this will be familiar to you already from your previous work. The video clips we watched in week one, and the historical reading you may have done with the last article will make this reading seem quite easy I think.

If you would, please read this part of Chapter 4, An Adragogical Theory of Adult Learning, and address the following questions.

As you read this, you will quickly get the sense of whether you feel as though you would like some more background to what you are reading. If so, please do consult Knowles’ book.

Pedagogy Versus Andragogy

First Response Set Continued:

Question Two: If you were asked to describe the andragogical model in your own words, how would you describe it?

Question Three: On page 69 of the reading it is stated, “If a pedagogical assumption is realistic for a particular learner in regard to a particular learning goal, then a pedagogical strategy is appropriate, at least as a starting point.” This is probably an important consideration for us. What does this mean to you?

Question Four: Reflecting back to the idea of “drawing people in” as I discussed with the artists and musicians, can you tell me how you think this might apply to your own thinking about adult education? You might approach this in a number of different ways: Is it important? Is it difficult to do? Do we need a particular teaching language to even discuss the act of drawing students into lessons? Is the establishment of context necessary? Does the idea of ‘drawing others in’ resonate with your own teaching methods?


I hope you found this interesting. I think by now we shouldn’t have any difficulty explaining andragogy to any of our colleagues.

When you are all finished up for the week, please feel free to send me your first set of responses. If you need another week to finish up, submitting by the end of next week is fine. If you need two more weeks, I can work with that.

I look forward to hearing from you.

I will talk with you soon 🙂