Are you familiar with the terms “pedagogy” and “andragogy“? “Pedagogy” is supposed to be education which is centered on the needs of the child, and “andragogy” is supposed to centered on the needs of, you guessed it, adults. You think so? I don’t! We have taken terms to the extreme. That is part of the art of waffling.
I suppose people prefer to think in terms this or that, them or us, now or later, those kinds of paradigms. People like clear-cut boundaries for almost everything, except when it comes to their own preferences. People don’t like dealing with continuums, with uncertainties, with requests to go down a path leading to who knows where. That is why stereotyping exists. People get an impression of someone or something, and that impression tends to last for a very long time, unless there are other experiences of that someone or something that changes those initial impressions. So, people tend to think that “children are children” and that “adults are adults”. We forget that “The child is the father of the man”. We forget that humans are either in a state of continuous growth or in an otherwise far-accelerated state of degradation. The idea that we “grow out of” childhood is true, and yet we also retain the child within, do we not? Adult educators and coaching schools tell us that “All the resources needed by a person to come to his own solutions are already within himself”. Really? From what age, may I ask? I do not believe for one minute that people have all the resources they need already within themselves. Sure, we lead people, meaning adults, or we point them towards, possible solutions and they grasp those solutions for themselves. However, very often this means seeking out resources of knowledge and wisdom that simply did not exist within the individual before that gentle persuasive revelation turned the light bulb on.
There is a greater degree of pedagogy involved when we are growing children. Children need inputs. They need their storehouses of knowledge, wisdom, morality, values, emotion, etc, to be filled by someone else. Hopefully someone older and wiser. Creative by design, children find more fulfillment when they have something to be creative WITH. Unlike God, we humans do not possess the capability to produce something out of nothing. Children also need to be self-motivated to learn things. Very often, this internal motivation is produced because of the close relationships the child has with his or her caregivers, who used to be the parents not too long ago. If a child does not have these deep, nurturing relationships, the child becomes easily frustrated and seeks more and more things to fill that vacuum. So, that is how we train children. We fill their storehouses, which, by the way, need to be filled both with large files all at once as well as with smaller files delivered continuously again and again at small regular intervals. The child very often does not even need us to teach him what to do with all the wonderful material we have poured into his storehouses, he will seek out ways and means to create whole new experiences with what we have put in. Of course, all children need some guidance, and all children need to be told the reasons why. Children are much more perceptive and much more discerning than we tend to give them credit for. So, establish great learning conditions, present information, suggest creative ways to make that information meaningful, and let the child experience life! That’s how you train kids, isn’t it?
Do we train adults differently? We say adults must be given a reason for wanting to learn. Children don’t need a reason? We say learning for adults must be made meaningful to them. Children don’t need to have meaning, don’t need to make sense of what we are trying to teach them? I trow not!
At the end of the day, it is not “pedagogy is for children” or “andragogy is for adults”. The truth lies, as it so often does, in between. There are times when we actually need to take adults by the hand and teach them as we would children, like it or not. And there are times when children will delight us by taking what we thought to have taught them, and teaching us a thing or two from their own insights.
So, pedagogy or andragogy? Stop it. Apply some “wise-agogy” and stop the “waffle-agogy”. It’s application of the right mix at the right time for the needs of the moment. Enjoy your gogy! And stop waffling!