Andragogy: Teaching for Adults
Andragogy is a word of Greek origin that means “teaching to adults”. This term was used for the first time in 1833, by the German Alexander Kapp, but it became popular in the 70s with Malcolm Knowles, an American educator who became a reference on the subject.
Like pedagogy, andragogy is a science that studies learning. But unlike pedagogy, which focuses on children, andragogy seeks best practices and strategies to help adults in the learning process. It is a teaching based on motivation and self-knowledge, in addition to the student’s experience being fundamental. It works with content that is more applicable to everyday life. That is why there is a conscious and disseminated learning in a more mature way.
Thus, teaching is more effective. In adult classes, it is risky to point out who learns the most: whether the teacher or the student. In conventional education the student adapts to the curriculum, but in adult education, the student collaborates in the organization of the curriculum. The educational activity of the adult is centered on learning and not on teaching, the adult learner being the agent of his own knowledge and must decide what to learn. Adults learn differently than children learn. Therefore, it is essential that the applied methods are also different.
The purpose is to propose how the adult learns, not to evaluate his learning ability. Learning comes more from participation in tasks, group study and experience. The educator’s role is to facilitate learning, emphasizing, in this procedure, the baggage of information brought by his students.
The andragogical processes differ from pedagogical practices, in which there is a teacher who has knowledge and passes it on to students in a more vertical relationship.
There is more flexibility in these teaching practices, as the responsibility for learning lies much more with the adult who is interested in learning than with the teacher. In this process, adult students learn by sharing concepts, and not just receiving information about it. From this coexistence and participation in the decision and understanding processes, original contours of problem solving, leadership, identities and changes in attitudes can be derived in a more significant space.
The reasons for studying a topic are related to that student’s motivations, which can be professional or personal. It is unlikely that an adult will feel motivated to learn about something that does not interest him or will not be applicable in his life.
Autonomy: adult students are considered autonomous in their learning, as they are independent and capable of making their own decisions. Experiences: adults have baggage and their life experiences are the basis for acquiring new knowledge.
Engagement: adults seek learning that is useful to them and will be more engaged if they understand the applicability of knowledge.
Orientation: as they seek knowledge to apply in their lives, they are more oriented to solving problems than to the content itself – solutions to day-to-day challenges can be related to personal or professional life.
Motivation: adults seek learning that offers them a better quality of life, self-esteem and personal and professional development. I
n the classroom, he will easily become familiar with the numbers as they are contextualized, that is, as he realizes that adding the figures, also includes making this same operation with fruits that exist in his house; a mathematical operation that is carried out with everyday objects of this adult makes more sense, because it is part of his daily life.
In a contextualized way, teaching has meanings for adults. If an adult learns to solve first degree equations, but does not learn how to use this knowledge in his daily life, this knowledge will have no practical meaning in his life, and hence, it will possibly be forgotten at some point.
Therefore, in adult education, the didactics to be used in the teaching and learning process for its complete adequacy, has as premise, to have sense and meaning for the adult. The content needs to be contextualized.