This week I was asked, not for the first time, why I use the term pedagogy in my sessions. “Why don’t you use the word andragogy?” My answer as always was brief – “because I don’t want my session to become a futile search for semantic resolutions” (well – words to that effect). Some teachers, especially those who teach teachers, can become incensed that we use a word which is rooted in the education of children. Some actually find the word offensive, for reasons they never seem to vocalise

Malcolm  Knowles, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Knowles, asserted that andragogy (Greek: “man-leading”) should be distinguished from the more commonly used pedagogy (Greek: “child-leading”). I’ve never really ‘got’ Knowles’ theory and believe it to be a fatuous argument. But, that’s personal opinion, which may change as this paper unfolds.

I’d actually prefer it if we had a completely different word to describe the science of teaching and learning, never mind the age of the learner. In reality I’d probably prefer two words – one for the science of teaching and another for the science of learning: one could be a sub-set of the other, but I won’t suggest which.

Anyway, having arrived home after what otherwise was a brilliant day, which saw me deliver two sessions on the ‘Potential of ‘M’ tools and technologies’ [https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/blooms/] I raised this subject with my wife (MSc Multimedia and e-Learning) and her sister who is visiting from the USA (Brown [Ivy-League] taught, ancient world classicist, 2 words short of her doctoral thesis). We all agreed that the semantics of this argument were irrelevant, perhaps a smokescreen to hide a deeper fear of new technology. Gail (Sis-in-law) however, was incensed that words were being bandied about that had no actual root in ancient Greek.

She said:

In Greek, a “π?????????”  (pedagogue) was a slave who led a child to and from school. The term π????? ?????? literally means “child escort” or “one who leads/guides a child.” By extension, “?v?r??????” would mean “leading a man” or, as I prefer, “walking a man.” [but] It should be noted that this word does not exist in ancient Greek. [?????? = Greek alphabet unintelligible to WordPress]

I the checked other places and found this on the Excellence Gateway:

‘Pedagogy literally means the art and science of educating children and often is used as a synonym for teaching. More accurately, pedagogy embodies teacher-focused education. In the pedagogic model, teachers assume responsibility for making decisions about what will be learned, how it will be learned, and when it will be learned. Teachers direct learning’.

‘Andragogy, initially defined as “the art and science of helping adults learn,” currently defines an alternative to pedagogy and refers to learner-focused education for people of all ages. In other words an andragogic approach is all about putting the learner in the driving seat.’

Conner, M. L. “Andragogy and Pedagogy.” Ageless Learner, 1997-2004.

I completely disagree with these views. I think that they are damaging and have no relevance in today’s learning arena. The simple fact that Conner asserts pedagogy to be teacher focussed and that androgogy is learner focussed goes against anything I’ve studied before. As we try to instil the idea that we are the guides by the side (“Sage-on-the-stage” to “Guide-by-the- side” (Stinson, Milter, 1996) we should strive to not get bogged down by ‘words’ because ‘words’ are more powerful than we imagine and can distill other, more important messages.

The penultimate word for now comes from Gail:

“If one is looking for ancient terms to apply to modern teaching/educational practices, perhaps ??????????/ ?????????  (to act as a guide/one who guides, explains) is preferable. i.e. kath-eh-gay-oh-my (well, that’s the verb). kath-ey-gay-tays (the one who teaches/guides)”

“Problem is, kathegogy isn’t quite right if you want a word that means the science of teaching/guiding. Maybe katheology. I’d have to give it some thought.”

So will I!








Stinson, J. Milter, R.  (1996).  “Problem-based Learning In Business Education: Curriculum Design and Implementation Issues”.  In Wilkerson, LuAnn and Gijselaers, Wim (Eds.), Bringing Problem-Based Learning to Higher Education:  Theory and Practice.  Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA. (found on http://pbl.tp.edu.sg/Facilitation/Articles/SimWee.pdf: downloaded 27/02/10)