EDEV_505 Week 1_4

I think that I understand your position. Let me repeat it here to see if I’ve represented you accurately. Andragogy is based on six principles (Fornaciari & Lund Dean, 2014; six principles are explained in this paper) that, taken together, result in a learner-centred curriculum which is more suited to the needs and proclivities of adults. Two fundamental aspects to this are the belief that adults have more agency in decision making and that adults value their time more than children. Baaska adds the question of education as a commodity delivered to consumers on the basis of education providers accepting the assumption that adult consumers know what they require (Anderson, 2016).

Serious reservations can be made about each of the principles Knowles, Holton and Swanson (2011) propound. For example, Smith (2010) questions the exclusivity of self-directedness in adults by drawing on the work of Erikson and Piaget who argue of self-directness as a feature of child learning. I will not list each reservation as Smith (2010) does that well. Andragogy, as described by Knowles, Holton and Swanson (2011), seems to be more relevant to training, i.e. a limited perspective on learning, and pedagogy to education.

It seems to me that there are at least two attitudes to learning. The first expects that information, skills and types of knowledge, i.e. know-how, know-that, and know-why (North & Kumta, 2014), will be available to the recipient after the course duration. This type of curriculum is characterised by Barnett as “an encounter with knowledge” (2009, p. 438). A component that expects personal change beyond this functional type of exchange is missing, deliberately so, in this attitude. Presumably, adults are more comfortable with their own personalities and see gaps in knowledge more instrumentally, hence they do not need to equate learning with personal growth at the level of personality. The second attitude contains the expectation that the educational process results in epistemic and attitudinal changes in the learner (Barnett, 2009). Barnett (2009) notes that the development of skill-based curricula in western HEIs has resulted in the move from a “dogma of knowledge … to a dogma of skills” (p. 438). He (Barnett, 2009) attempts to redress this imbalance, as he sees it, towards curricula that enable learners to enact changes in their being. Bloland (2005) characterises Barnett as being a modernist, but I fail to see how a desire to effect qualitative personal change can be pigeon-holed into any post/modernist category. Illeris (2003) defines education as semi-permanent change and that includes the development of personal qualities. If postmodernism is the acceptance of simultaneous multiple views while rejecting the essentialist nature of normative values (Stevenson, 2010), the exact types of semi-permanent change education offers will become dependent on many overlapping aspects, including the agency of the individual. However, Strohl (2006) links postmodernism with instrumentalism, and Hitlin and Piliavin (2004) relate postmodernism with postmaterialism; both views are ultimately limited because they reject other legitimate possibilities of interpretation, which is a hallmark of postmodernism itself.

I think that it is unproblematic to say that learning can be bought, that there are choices about the level and nature of curricular content and that the postmodern world is more accepting of the existence of alternatives than previously. However, I think that it behoves readers of educational literature to assess accurately the precise nature of any evidence presented without reverting to dichotomous thinking without cause. This is one of my values. I wonder how much this is shared?


Anderson, B. (2016, April 11). Re: Case study: Values in Higher Education. Message posted to https://my.ohecampus.com/lens/home?locale=en_us#.

Barnett, R. (2009). Knowing and becoming in the higher education curriculum. Studies in Higher Education, 34(4), 429–440. http://doi.org/10.1080/03075070902771978

Bloland, H. G. (2005). Whatever happened to postmodernism in higher education?: No requiem in the new millennium. The Journal of Higher Education, 76(2), 121–150. http://doi.org/10.1353/jhe.2005.0010

Fornaciari, C. J., & Lund Dean, K. (2014). The 21st-Century Syllabus: From Pedagogy to Andragogy.Instructional Innovation, 38(5), 701–723. http://doi.org/10.1177/1052562913504763

Hitlin, S., & Piliavin, J. A. (2004). Values: Reviving a Dormant Concept. Annual Review of Sociology,30(1), 359–393. http://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.soc.30.012703.110640

Illeris, K. (2003). Towards a contemporary and comprehensive theory of learning. Internaitonal Journal of Lifelong Education, 22(4), 396–406. http://doi.org/10.1080/0260137032000094814

Knowles, M., Holton, E. & Swanson, R. (2011). The adult learner. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

North, K., & Kumta, G. (2014). Knowledge management: Value creation through organizational learning. Cham: Springer. http://doi.org/10.1093/annhyg/mei026

Smith, M. K. (1996; 1999, 2010) ‘Andragogy’, the encyclopaedia of informal education. Retrieved April 12 2016 from http://infed.org/mobi/andragogy-what-is-it-and-does-it-help-thinking-about-adult-learning/

Stevenson, N. (2010). Critical Pedagogy, Democracy, and Capitalism: Education Without Enemies or Borders. Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 32(1), 66–92. http://doi.org/10.1080/10714410903482674

Strohl, N. M. (2006). The postmodern university revisited: reframing higher education debates from the “two cultures” to postmodernity. London Review of Education, 4(2), 133–148. http://doi.org/10.1080/14748460600855195


About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a private university.
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