My thanks to Richard Whiteside from Active Language in Cadiz for drawing my attention a few weeks ago at the FECEI conference in Madrid to heutagogy.
Read on if you want to know about heutagogy and its ancestors pedagogy and andragogy and what it has to do with learner coaching.
The term pedagogy tends to be used in education to describe the study of teaching learners of all ages, though the Greek roots of the word refer to teaching children. In the late 1960s the term andragogy (teaching adults) gained some currency in the wake of the expansion of adult education in many parts of the world. As adults were doing a lot more formal learning, it made sense to differentiate the study of teaching adults and children.
In his andragogical model, Knowles made four basic assumptions about learners, all of which have some relationship to our notions about a learner’s ability, need, and desire to take responsibility for learning:
1. Their self-concept moves from dependency to independency or self-directedness.
2. They accumulate a reservoir of experiences that can be used as a basis on which to build learning.
3. Their readiness to learn becomes increasingly associated with the developmental tasks of social roles.
4. Their time and curricular perspectives change from postponed to immediacy of application and from subject-centeredness to performance-centeredness.
Andragogy has not really caught on as a word in ELT, though teachers will recognise the principles outlined in Knowles model.
Heutagogy, a term coined by Stewart Hase of Southern Cross University and Chris Kenyon in Australia, is the study of self-determined learning. The notion is in some ways an expansion and reinterpretation of andragogy.
Heutagogy places specific emphasis on learning how to learn, universal learning opportunities and true learner self-direction. So, for example, whereas andragogy focuses on the best ways for people to learn, heutagogy also includes the improvement of people’s actual learning skills themselves, learning how to learn as well as just learning a given subject. Whereas andragogy focusses on structured education, in heutagogy all learning contexts, both formal and informal, are considered.
The last point is perhaps the most crucial. For language learners, particularly English language learners, informal contexts for learning have mushroomed in the last 15 years with the arrival of the internet and e media. How learners manage and navigate these opportunities will determine how far they go with their English and how long it takes them to get there. As classroom teachers we still need a handle on how people learn in that context, but increasingly on how the classroom event fits into the wider picture of our learners language lives.
In the previous century we thought of self directed learning as something which applied to PhD students, very smart people beavering away independently on research and reading with some ocasional encouragement and direction from a supervisor. In this century this model will apply increasingly to learning of all kinds and to all ages and types of learner.
For teachers this will require a shift along the PAH continuum towads a more comprehensive consideration of how our learners achieve their goals, beyond our own interventions to facilitate learning in the classroom.
Heutagogy doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, I know, and we are not even sure how to pronounce it when it does, but maybe it’s time to put pedagogy to bed and have some grown up time with our students.
For more on this, Google heutagogy. There are also some good references on the Wikipedia page for heutagogy