andragogy vs pedagogy

as i was poking around the continuing education forum, i saw the word “andragogy”, and was surprised to admit to myself that this is a new word to me.

i’ve been well aware of the word pedagogy, the art and science of teaching children, from the greek word meaning child-leading. however, in doing some research, i see that andragogy is from the greek word for adult-leading, and is the art and science of teaching adults, but also refers to a learner-focussed education.

the difference seems to lie in the intellectual ability of the student. eduard lindeman and martha anderson developed the concepts of andragogy, but it was malcolm knowles, scholar, academic administrator, and author, who breathed new popularity into the word as “the process of engaging adult learners in the structure of the learning experience”, and is contemplated as:

  1. Self-concept: As a person matures his self concept moves from one of being a dependent personality toward one of being a self-directed human being
  2. Experience: As a person matures he accumulates a growing reservoir of experience that becomes an increasing resource for learning.
  3. Readiness to learn. As a person matures his readiness to learn becomes oriented increasingly to the developmental tasks of his social roles.
  4. Orientation to learning. As a person matures his time perspective changes from one of postponed application of knowledge to immediacy of application, and accordingly his orientation toward learning shifts from one of subject-centeredness to one of problem centredness.
  5. Motivation to learn: As a person matures the motivation to learn is internal

more in-depth explanations of these points can be found on the informal education andragogy page.

knowles himself later concluded that age is no longer the determining factor for distinguishing between the use of andragogy and pedagogy, but rather it has transformed into andragogy being the term for self-directed learning, and pedagogy for teacher-directed learning.

however, progressive education theorists denounce the use of the word andragogy on the basis that it adds confusion since its main expressions are not specific to adults.


6 Responses to “andragogy vs pedagogy”

  1. Interesting post…

    I am an andragogist myself… in French we have been using the term “andragogy” for almost 20 yrs now… I got my degree in this area of experise at its very beginning.

    Anglophones are always surprised when I use this word… I think they do refer to the field as “Adult Education”… actually there is a huge difference between “Adult Education” and “Andragogy”: the latter refers to theories underlying the field of Adult Education. It is a fascinating subject though…

    If you are interested in the topic, visit my blog at :

    And thanks for giving such a great explanation… I never actually did it myself because… well, I apply those andragogical principles by reflex and I rarely ponder on the theory…

  2. @lyne i suppose i can count myself in the catagory of anglophones who would be surprised if you used this word (before today, at least). i’ve worked in the training industry for some time now, am currently working my way through a facilitation certificate in continuing education, and otherwise do a lot of research and writing on adult education, and this was a new word to me. perhaps it is not nearly as common in english as it is in other languages, particularly european languages.

    i like it, and see the logic for using it. perhaps together we can work it back into common usage?

    thanks for the link to your blog – i’m looking forward to exploring it.

  3. Definitely… together we can work on the usage of the word “andargogy”! I try to use it as much as I can in my posts… ;-)

    I will certainly come back and surf your blog, since we’re working in the same field!

    À bientôt!

  4. I used to use “andragogy” when writing about my work in adult literacy, understanding “pedagogy” as the schooling of children. After awhile, I decided it was just too big and too uncommon a word for anyplace outside the university. (The kind of word that gets used mostly by “pedagogs”?)

    Now I just say, “helping people learn.”

  5. lasarus kelola Says:

    in namibia andragogy iis difiner as art and sense of helping adult to learn

  6. lasarus kelola Says:

    pedagogy in directiing and motivating exploriiing all possible way for children to take the knowelegde that their regard as for future use

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