We spent part of our recent lesson comparing how children learn with how adults learn. There are differences:

pedagogy - children

Just absorb information around them

Creative - "think outside the box", e.g. give a child a cardboard box they will play with it and use their imagination to see it as a house, car, kennels etc.

Give a child an tablet and they will just work it out - not bound by preconceptions!

andragogy - adult

Will question whether information is necessary, so adults need motivation to learn new things - Why do I need to know this? Relevance!

Can be constrained by current knowledge about how the world works.

Pedagogy is described as teaching through guiding and Andragogy as teaching through facilitating. So what is the difference I ask ... A guide takes a group up the mountain by a route s/he has determined and makes decisions and the walkers follow. A facilitator would take the walkers and discuss how they are going to climb the mountain, drawing on the walkers experience and allowing them to make decisions, but ultimately keeping them safe as would a guide.

Pedagogy is described as requiring structure and teaching dependent learners verses Andragogy as teaching more independent learners with autonomy, ie an ability to make their own decisions. I think as we grow up we are encourage to develop autonomy within our social constructs. So I suppose that the two types of teaching reflect the difference. However I still believe that as teachers we should see what students we have in front of us and adapt our teaching styles to reflect their needs wither that means giving structure through instruction (a didactic teaching style) or allowing experiential learning through discovery. Perhaps as teachers we are also responsible for combining all the different methods to help students learn that they can learn in different ways. If children are given the opportunity to try different learning styles then they would be more open to it later, so even with children being a guide and a facilitator is possible.

The best theory I heard yesterday was the idea that as children we are pedagogy learners and as we grow we develop into andragogy learners, ie adult learners, but we retain the child like qualities within us. To add to this I think teaching is far more than just giving or facilitating that information is learnt, it is also about creating enthusiasm for learning and for the subject and having the ability to see where their students are currently to show them learning is easy as long as you start from the right place!

I wrote the above a couple of weeks ago but didn't publish as it needed some more thought ... well this week I taught some Year 4s climbing (so aged 8/9/10 I guess). So this gives me an opportunity to think about what I would do differently for adults in this situation. The class was an introduction to climbing using ropes and asking everyone to be involved in the rope work on the ground (belaying) as well as everyone having a go at climbing the indoor wall.

For the children I asked what they had done before (ie gauging experience to build on - I would always do this as it says a lot about expectation of the session, confidence levels and in these sessions potential language barriers as some students where Polish speaking and their English was not good). The aim of the session was to give a climbing experience to everyone and have fun.

The information was taught using the IDEAS model (see previous blog) from putting on the harness & helmet to how to set up and perform belaying to keep the climber safe and also to coming back down the wall. The actual climbing although demonstrated was very much left for the individual to discover, with support from other students or the additional adult. So lots of types of teaching going on: group work to encourage team work and also from my point of view to create a safe system of working that I can monitor (it is possible to teach climbing where the teacher belays each person, but there is a lot of waiting around for turns for students, so can be quite boring). All students are involved in learning climbing by trial and error (discovery learning), and belaying by group work and example. The belaying is taught in one way only (there are several methods i actual fact). If I were teaching adults I might start with a one method but explain more about why it works, whereas with children I tell them that this is what they must do to be safe. So this would be different levels of understanding as shown on the Bloom's Taxonomy scale.

All students got at least one climb (and mostly 2 or 3). Climbs were selected by me to create success. Some children choose not to do more than one climb, but all were very much involved in the belaying. All children were praised. Any issues of fear or "I can't get any higher" were dealt with on an individual basis with specific instructions to get higher (eg "Place you feet on this hold, now push up - can you reach higher?") or peer to peer help or "that's fine well done for getting that high let's get you down ....". There was competition between children, but created by them. Do adults do that or are they more interested in their own success?

To my mind this teaching adults verses children, either way there is a need to assess what is needed and instil motivation in you students. What is different is life experience and expectations and as a teacher we need to be aware of that when we are faced with a group. With experience we learn that children display certain attributes and adults display others, hence the definitions of our big words: pedagogy & andragogy. However within that

Your comment will be posted after it is approved.

Leave a Reply.