Andragogy is defined as adult education. The adult takes charge of his/her educational goals by building on previous learning experience. According to Knowles (1984: 12, cited by Christopher Pappas 2013), there are five assumptions when it comes to adults learning: (1) self-concept (independence), (2) personal experience (a resource for learning), (3) readiness to learn (linking what to learn to learner's needs), (4) orientation to learning (problem-centered rather content-centered) and (5) intrinsic (personal motivation (Christopher Pappas, 2013). As an adult learner, I believe these assumptions are valid in my learning experience.
Indeed, since my childhood, I have been interested in drawing and painting. I have never taken any formal class in this field. I just draw and paint when I want and as I want. I made portraits of friends and family members. I feel no pressure related to grades or a degree to be awarded at the end. I enjoy this experience as I have discovered over the years that school or a formal setting is not necessarily the best environment where we can learn and develop our creativity. The schools I attended never offered any course on drawing or painting. Against this background, I agree with Robinson (2016) who holds that schools can kill our creativity. Ironically, it was drawing that enabled me to stay in school as it allowed me to earn extra credits, thus getting a scholarship to continue my university studies. My informal learning experience saved me and facilitated my formal training.
My learning experience in drawing and painting is what Knowles called self-concept or being responsible for one’s own decision and believing that one can learn. Any time I feel that I need to improve on a drawing or painting technique, I do my research and figure out how to address the challenge. I have been learning by doing. Constructivism and connectivism could help explain this approach to learning, that is building skills or knowledge through networks.
On the other hand, in my graduate studies, I learned translation studies and translation techniques in a very rigorous formal setting. It was necessary to be humble and be prepared to unlearn in order to learn. Since it was a professional training, there were very clear expectations in terms of content, assignments, grades and deadlines, and an internship followed by a thesis writing and defense. This training was practical and allowed me to earn a living and to support others.
Yet, I also experienced formal training that proved to be useless as I do not remember what I had learned from that experience, except the terrible memory of sitting in a class where I had to because it was a requirement. In short, not all formal educational experiences are educative or instructive. In such circumstances, instead of developing our skills or creativity, we are rather enveloped and stifled by the learning experience.
True, I also agree with Dewey (2017) when he says that not all experience is educative. When informal education, experience and formal education meet in the middle, they can produce amazing results.
In the future, I intend to emphasize why (learning objectives), the what (the content) and the how (the techniques) to design courses that are productive for adult learners. I will try to understand how people learn and why they’re taking my class instead of just forcing onto them my content without meeting them half way. Learning should be a collaborative and constructive experience.
Robinson, K., & Aronica, L. (2016). Creative schools: The grassroots revolution that's transforming education. New York, New York : Penguin Books.
Dewey, J. (2007). Experience and Education (Kappa Delta Pi Lecture). Free Press. Kindle Edition.
Pappas, C. (2013, May 2009). The Adult Learning Theory-Andragogy- of Malcolm Knowles. Retrieved November 26, 2017 from https://elearningindustry.com/the-adult-learning-theory-andragogy-of-malcolm-knowles