When we talk about studying, we immediately imagine a child or a youngster with a book in his hands. In reality, however, gone are the days when a person could study some science and go about his business freely and in confidence. This present day we shall keep our knowledge up-to-date and shall be in line with current trends for us just to keep pace with the times. No matter how old you are or how long you have not been engaged in your business. It seems that, as time progressed, adults and self-made people will be forced to increase the tempo and to enhance the effectiveness of efforts for them to be well-educated. The theory titled “Andragogy” casts some light on how adults shall effectively study considering all the differences from children.
Pedagogy vs Andragogy
Pedagogy differs from andragogy not only by its name, since the Greek word “child” is in the root of the first word, while the second word is the derivative of “adult”. There is a significant difference – precisely because adults differ from children as learners. Moreover, children master new material better (besides, adolescents have better learning performance). Adults, who are hungry for education, have many other fine qualities.
First, the study in primary and secondary school is mandatory in most countries of the world. Adults are about to study of their own free will without any chore, obligation, coercion, they do not say words like “I am not going to school today” – keen interest and meaningful choice predominate here.
Secondly, the need for study of adult is aimed at getting some specific knowledge, skills that meet certain goals – like professional self-development or increase of qualification, for instance. A child is given basic knowledge, in specialized schools he attends in-depth courses on one or more disciplines. However, an adult person dedicates himself to one specific subject.
Furthermore, adult person is not a “blank piece of paper”: adults have a certain bundle of knowledge, experience, worldview that shall be reckoned with during the process of study. This is neither good, nor bad – it’s just a fact. Any phrase of a teacher or any new topic in the branch of learning that is at least partially known to adult person is faced with knowledge gained, shall go through the prism and filter of age-specific learner’s experience. In this regard, sometimes it is difficult for adults to study: on frequent occasions, accumulated knowledge and information is nothing but an obstacle, which shall also be taken into consideration when teaching an adult person.
The next aspect to be considered concerns the fact that adults cannot devote 10 years of their lives to learning activity from morning till night. All the childhood of a kid is focused on the literacy – mature person may take not more than some days or hours out of the schedule for him to get back to the ordinary style of work.
Malcolm Knowles is considered to be the first and main ideologist of andragogy. It was he who developed and formulated the basic principles of this educational direction, having figured out the key differences between teaching of children and teaching of adults.
Here are four principles categorized by Mr. Knowles:
- An adult person is involved in the planning and evaluation of his learning.
- Experience provides the basis for the learning activities.
- Adults learn subjects that have relevance and impact to their job or personal life.
- Adult learning is aimed at goal-oriented and problem-centered results
Yet another nuance is as follows: it is typically for a child to study at one school from the first to the last grade, while adult may choose to attend more efficient professional development courses or fee-based courses in separate disciplines, may invest more resources in the study. Adult person is flexible and may go to extraordinary lengths to be able to get better education in a more effective way.
And, most importantly – an adult may set rules that are suitable for his educational purposes to the “teacher” (or may choose a place of study depending on his claims). A child, in his turn, receives his knowledge and skills jointly with the classmates, whose number is often rather large. In contrast to a child, who is switching from one topic to another one without looking closely at its essence and having got “fair” mark, adult person, who is willing to be educated, does not skip “tests and exams” (efficiency and completeness of knowledge are the most important things for him). After all, adult person needs no certificate with good marks – he is studying to use knowledge gained on the same day as he walks out the door of educational establishment.
Trainers, coaches, mentors
Until recently, great many people were laughing when they heard that someone was working as a “coach” or as a “mentor” (like it is “fashionable” today to laugh at the word “facilitator”). But now, when the need for in-depth adult education has increased in each and every market, when highly-skilled accountants change their specialties to software developers, automotive engineers, study electrical engineering, businessmen are being bogged down in marketing, they study digitized sales channels, wish to learn foreign languages – no one laughs at this.
When an expert, a team of experts, startup or even entire company starts working in new direction and getting new education in a new area, mentor may be of good service. Mentor is considered to be expert, experienced professional, who is aware (has expertise) in a certain field, and may help to overcome obstacles, having examined the issue from every angle. Yes, this is “training advisor”. Historically, it is what we used to call the authoritative person, who becomes the guardian of a “learner” in obtaining a certain specialty or during the spiritual practice. Nowadays, this word “mentor” stands for “training advisor in business”.
The learning process with the mentor is episodic: mentor gives pieces of his advice only when he sees some difficulties or obvious mistakes in the actions taken by his “learners”. The process of education is often limited to specific advices that were developed based on the first-hand experience “painstakingly crafted” during the work on similar issue. Moreover, mentoring is episodic in time: mentor does not constantly monitor the work and study of his mentees – he either regularly checks the state of affairs or comes to solve problems without intervening the rest of the time.
Mentor is the perfect candidate when there is a need for an expert able to fix, to make appropriate adjustments and fine-tune your work. He will show you the way when you are at a dead end. But if you are standing on the threshold of new knowledge or skill, then mentor is not the person to help you – he corrects, rather than learns to take the first small steps. Training is the best way to study in adulthood, when it is necessary to obtain new knowledge or skills in a new field, and this shall be done, like, any day now. Training is a practical class with trainer – the one, who knows how to make the first step and how to master certain skills and knowledge. Trainer explains the fundamentals, shows examples, cases (specific real-world example) by resorting to multidisciplinary education. He chooses the most effective way to lead the learner to the desired result: a better understanding of the subject is emerging from the basic knowledge, it becomes linked to other disciplines, and – the most important thing – understanding comes of how apply this in practice.
It is interesting that there are two definitions for a person, who trains someone – trainer and coach. For a long time both Ukrainian and Russian languages had only one word – “trainer”. But now, when the Western business school, educational systems have reached us, the word “coach” has become common for us. The difference between a trainer and a coach lies in the interaction with a learner, his engagement level in the process, the way he obtains some skills and knowledge.
Imagine a gym. You come there, pay for the time of an expert, who will tell you how sport activities shall be made, what diet to keep. He will help you to lift weights, will give you a towel. This person is a trainer. A coach will virtually become your elder brother or father – he will be in position to give you commands and to demand them to be executed. The difference between a trainer and a coach is that trainer is a person, who teaches you something in practice. A coach is the one, who will accompany you along the educational path. A trainer comes with his own program and completes his quota during definite period. A coach will develop the adaptable program that best meets your needs. If it is about fitness, then trainer will tell you “you shall only eat food with fewer calories”, but a coach will call you at lunchtime to remind you to take coffee without cream or sugar in your favorite cafe. A coach will apply all these approaches to all the types of education and study. The ultimate goal of a trainer is to transfer you the knowledge and skills in a quality manner. The ultimate goal of a coach is to lead you to the specific and necessary result that will match your needs.
Theory and practice
Traditionally, the school learning process consists of “reading aloud” the material and control over material learned. A child is given some fundamentals, a fairly basic level of knowledge, since he knows nothing. Afterwards, knowledge gained are morphed into some sort of structure of knowledge, systemic knowledge about objects and the connection between them. Sure thing, practical classes exist, since this is the best way to understand the issues theoretically studied before.
On the other hand, andragogy is mainly offering the practical classes, since the goal of the study is practical application of knowledge gained and rounding out specific skills acquired. For this purpose, coaches and trainers prefer using such modes of study as training courses, business games, practical exercises with case analysis.
andragogy is mainly offering the practical classes
This is very familiar to those who have passed advanced training or certification programs that may be frequently found in various fields. All they are developed on principles that are close to andragogy, though, on frequent occasions, founders of training courses may know nothing about this term.
With reference to the above-mentioned, adults mostly prefer “intensives” (master classes, courses, trainings, hackathons, etc.): short-term theoretical and practical activities consisting of one or several persons, where participants may independently or under the leadership of someone, spend several days or weeks to “upload” all what they need on the subject matter – inclusive of knowledge, practical skills, etc. If this is about in-depth business education, innovative and fast-growing industries such as IT, marketing, digital-industry, then such educational courses may vary from one cycle to another. In other words, owing to the fact that information itself is easily accessible considering the possibilities of the internet, and especially upon the emergence of countless number of online courses for self-education, the value of knowledge itself is going down from year to year, but the value of your ability to apply them and to be adaptable is going up. Accordingly, teaching methods and training programs for adults around the globe are in the process of changing now.
Where to study?
There is a large number of training courses, academies and schools, where adults may study. However, there is alternative option as well – online educational platforms, where anyone may gain knowledge in a wide range of disciplines, sometimes, free of charge. Here are some of them:
Any such list will be incomplete without mentioning of this powerful international educational platform. Courses in English may be found here on nearly every subject. So far there are only two courses in Ukrainian. However, there are 171 courses in Russian.
Famous Ukrainian MOOC platform (massive open online courses) offers you the opportunity to take free courses, developed in cooperation with teachers of leading higher education establishments of Ukraine – Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, National Technical University of Ukraine “Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute”, National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”, etc.
Yet another Ukrainian educational online platform, where you may find both paid and free courses on various subjects.
So far, this Ukrainian interactive online education platform cannot boast of abundance of courses, but it is one of the youngest in the list and is still at the beginning of its path.
This online platform is interesting by the fact that it is focused on educational videos. You may find here a load of useful educational videos on different topics, not only in English, but in many other languages as well, inclusive of Ukrainian and Russian.