Adult education – what is different?

By | June 29, 2022

How is it different from K-12? Why is this important to us? Discuss andragogy and lifelong learning.

Adult education, what is different? Before discussing the practical differences, let’s first address the two main categories of education – pedagogy and andragogy. Simply put, in Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, pedagogy is the fine arts or profession of teaching. However, within the profession, pedagogy more often refers to the K to 12 approach; the Socratic approach, if you will, where teachers teach and learners listen. Information is passed from instructor to student – more of a memorization type where the learner is dependent on the instructor for all learning. The teacher or trainer takes full responsibility for what is being taught.

However, andragogy assumes that the learner is self-directed. The learner is responsible for his own learning. Self-evaluation is characteristic of this approach. In andragogy, the learner brings their own experience to the learning process. Every adult learner is a source of knowledge and contributes to the overall learning experience. There is more of a willingness to learn built into this approach than the pedagogical model. This self-motivation comes from the need to know in order to work more effectively or to achieve one’s goals.

So, adult education is more focused on learning what we need to know in order to achieve our various life goals. The other approach to education is more of a required process to gain certain basic qualifications. It is often much less student-centred and more focused on specific outcomes revolving around a set curriculum. Adult education is more learner-centric compared to K-12 with the expectation that more participation will be life experience based.

The adult education approach becomes important for us because the goals are different in the first place. Goals focus on achieving a specific task outcome or learning new behaviors. The adult becomes less motivated by grade point averages and more motivated by achieving specific goals. Most of the time, these goals are more pragmatic and focus on specific outcomes that the learner wants to achieve.

In this complex 21st century world, all of our senses are constantly being assaulted with different types of information. In order to survive and possibly even thrive, learning becomes a lifelong process. Most of us learn throughout life whether we know that particular term or not. Essentially, adult education differs primarily from our K-12 experience and possibly early college, both by our motivations and our needs. Adult education becomes a choice, not a responsibility.

Copyright November 4, 2009 Boyd K. Smith, Ph.D. All rights reserved

Thanks to Boyd Smith | #Adult #education

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