In my new book, OPEN, I speculate on the shift in learner motivations and dependencies brought about by the revolution in how we learn socially. I argue that places where formal learning happens (in education and the workplace) have to adjust to the new reality. here’s the relevant quote:
“There must be some unwritten academic maxim somewhere that if you want to dissuade people from attempting to understand how learning works, you give them the worst names you can think of. I will attempt to explain this in simple language, but let’s start with a technical announcement:Though it was happening anyway, Open has accelerated the shift from pedagogy, to andragogy, to heutagogy.
There, aren’t you glad I told you that? Notwithstanding the fact that I managed to combine the three ugliest words in the English language in a single sentence, I like to think there’s quite a profound thought in there. The word pedagogy derives from Greek and, literally translated, means ‘to lead the child’; andragogy is translated as ‘to lead the man (adult)’; heutagogy means ‘to lead to find’. I know, that’s not much clearer. But, if we look at commonly-used interpretations, it gets better.
In pedagogy, the learner is led to a conclusion determined by the teacher, informed by the teacher’s knowledge and beliefs – it could be termed ‘instructional learning’. In andragogy, though the destination may be decided by the tutor, the route involves greater learner involvement, acknowledging the importance of relevance, motivation and problem-solving. Although andragogy is a term open to many interpretations, let’s use it here to denote ‘self-directed learning. In heutagogy, there is not necessarily a defined destination, nor a prescribed route – it is ‘self-determined learning’.
These shifts in how we’re learning mirror the bigger shifts in how we’re living. We are moving from being compliant citizens, being told what is good for us, to informed actors who are determining our own futures. As society inevitably becomes more open, the way we learn in the future simply has to reflect those shifts. Changes in learning are both a reflection, and a consequence, of how we now want to live. The shift, from instruction to self-determination, is also happening because that’s the path we’ve been taking when we learn informally.”
Of course, I’m not suggesting that kindergarden students should be dictating what’s to be learned – this is a journey from dependence to self-sufficiency, and it can take a lifetime to realise. But when learners like Jack Andraka reach that point of self-determination by the time they’re fifteen, we have to accept that things are changing fast:
After the book came out, a number of people asked how to help learners move along the continuum from tutor-led to self-determination. The first step is identifying the characteristics of each stage, so I’m grateful for Jon Andrews at St Paul’s School in Brisbane, for having a first draft at a matrix, which I then built upon, and share here (you’ll need to click on the image to enlarge it):
I’m no longer working in the classroom, so I need leaders of learning to suggest strategies that will help nudge learners along. I’m sure however, of one thing: the days of keeping learners dependent on tutors are over. The UK’s Sutton Trust has been putting together a research ‘toolkit’ of strategic interventions, based upon cost and impact. The three most effective strategies are feedback, meta cognition & self regulation, and peer tutoring. So, it appears that the shifts we’re witnessing in social learning are happening for a very good reason.
What strategies do you adopt to make learners more self-determined?