As I sit here Tuesday night with my colleagues, I am swimming in a veritable sea of learning theory.  The question is:  swimming, or drowning?

Malcolm Knowles (1980) has produced some great ideas on the adult learner.  He suggests that they are capable of autonomous learning, seek relevancy in their work, and can be internally motivated.  These are things that certainly separate andragogy from pedagogy.  But is what Knowles has outlined actually a theory, or are they merely assumptions about adult learners?

Kolb clearly has a theory, that fits well with the assumptions of Knowles.  I am guessing that is in large part due to the fact that Knowles came before Kolb, and his theories on andragogy are widely  known.  So while Knowles helps me to understand the adult learner, Kolb helps me figure out what to do with them…

The million dollar question now is how can I incorporate what I have learned into my daily practise?  The important difference is that I do not teach adults (though many of those I teach honestly believe they are indeed adults).  But both Knowles and Kolb can serve as a template of assumptions and theory that I can apply to a different group.  And when the learning, behaviour, and motivation theories are thrown in, it will really help me shape my work.

Or drive me crazy.  It’s definitely one of the two…

Advertisements