Thoughts: Teaching vs Learning

I spent most of last week having a fantastic time at ULearn, but one thing I did notice during the week (and increasingly over the last few years) is the term “pedagogy” flying around everywhere.  It seems to be dropped into every presentation and every conversation without seriously considering its meaning.  Simply put pedagogy is the “practice of teaching” and everything that goes with it.  Reflecting on a previous post of mine I started wondering whether we are focusing on the wrong thing to some extent.

During the 80’s and 90’s Malcolm Knowles developed a theory on adult learning called “andragogy” which basically means “the science/art of helping adults”.  The foundation for his theory rested on the following

Knowles’ assumptions

  • The need to know — adult learners need to know why they need to learn something before undertaking to learn it.
  • Learner self-concept —adults need to be responsible for their own decisions and to be treated as capable of self-direction
  • Role of learners’ experience —adult learners have a variety of experiences of life which represent the richest resource for learning. These experiences are however imbued with bias and presupposition.
  • Readiness to learn —adults are ready to learn those things they need to know in order to cope effectively with life situations.
  • Orientation to learning —adults are motivated to learn to the extent that they perceive that it will help them perform tasks they confront in their life situations.

based on Knowles 1990:57

Sound familiar?  Isn’t much of the rhetoric around the NZ curriculum based on similar principles?  This is of course where Knowles was challenged; these are not just exclusive to adults and so Knowles himself adapted and saw it more as a way of describing learner centredness.

Now, I am not really interested in throwing any more terms out there, goodness knows there are enough of those in education, but I do think we should consider one thing in all this.

Do we focus too much on examining the practice of teaching and not enough on the practice of learning?  Just a thought.


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