Dr. Emiliano Hudtohan

Educator, Business Writer, Industry Expert and Entrepreneur

Shifting from Pedagogy to Andragogy

Dr. Emiliano T. Hudtohan

February 17, 2007 At the first educational conference of De La Salle Professional Schools, Inc. (DLSPSI) at the training center of Phinma, Tagaytay City, I stressed the need for MBA and DBA professors to shift from pedagogy to andragogy.  I situated the shift in the context of Lasallian education, using the writings of St. La Salle and those of the Brothers in the Philippines.

Child Learning and Pedagogy. Pedagogy as an art and science of learning appeared in the English dictionary in the 17th century.  Its origin, pedagogue, refers to a Greek slave who escorted children to school.  In the 14th century, a pedagogue was referred as a schoolmaster perceived as a dull, format or pedantic teacher.  Nonetheless, the use of pedagogy today continues to refer to the method of delivering the content to the learner, child or adult.

Andragogy and Adult Learning. Andragogy in contrast to pedagogy addresses the adult learner whose needs to know and learn require immediate, practical application.  Literature on andragogy is scarce, an indication that as an art and science it needs to be explored.  In fact, popular dictionaries and encyclopedias do not list it.  Malcolm Knowles (1980), one of the first to users, spells it ‘androgogy’.  (Google search in the internet spells it ‘andragogy.’)  He observes that “adults are ore self-directed and less dependent, more experienced, more oriented toward developmental needs, and move focused on immediate application.”

For graduate school professors, andragogy as a learning perspective “provides a useful framework for thinking generally about adults as learners and serves as a valuable reminder that adults are not children.”  More than ever, in MBA and DBA classes adults in the classroom should be treated as individuals and reduced number of students should ideally be 15 or less to maximize adult conversation between and among professor and students.

World Café Conversation. Juanita Brown (2005) suggests a World Café model of social interaction and learning.  For student-centered learning, the traditional classroom arrangement has to give way to a round table café conversation to facilitate exchange of ideas in a dialogue. World Café style “assures a welcoming environment and psychological safety that nurtures personal comfort and mutual respect”.

In a creative classroom environment, every professor should ask the question raised by JBrown: What if a conversation begun today could ripple out and create new possibilities?   This hits the nail right on the head.  In quantum theory (Gribbin:1998), a butterfly in Zamboanga flapping its wings could create an avalanche in Mount Everest once the quarks travel; a ripple has global effect.

Andragogy and Training. My corporate experience as HR trainer for almost two decades in banking and insurances industries helped me shift from pedagogy to andragogy.  I reshaped the rows of chairs to a U formation to dispel my role as a pedagogue.  When I do PowerPoint presentation, I refrain from reading my notes (a speech when formally delivered) lest I lose eye-to-eye contact.  I do not stay behind the podium but I move around to simulate face-to-conversation with as many participants as I can. I stimulate critical thinking to evoke learning based on experience at the workplace.

Because I was dealing with adults, I figured out my input for the training session should be 20 percent and the participants should have 80 percent output, following Paretto’s 80/20 law (Koch: 2004).  This supported the oft-repeated call for student-centered learning.  By developing structured learning exercises (SLEs), I freed myself from long, tedious lectures, allowing the students/participants to figure things out for themselves and learn at their own pace.

Lasallian Education. For nearly 100 years the Brothers have made the educational presence of St. John Baptist de la Salle in 18 formal educational institutions they have in the Philippines.  In 1911, adherence to Lasallian pedagogy was culled from the writings of the Founder and the global practices of the Brothers who were mainly devoted to the education of the youth.  Today, ten (10) of the eighteen (18) schools have young and adult learners who are attending college and graduate school courses.  With  this development, there is an apparent  need to hasten the shift from pedagogy to andragogy.  The writings of the Founder may have to be reread in the light of an adult audience in the classroom.

The writings of the St. La Salle show that he was not only a pedagogue, but also an educational manager. In his Conduct of Schools he made sure the young became disciplined learners under his guidance and tutelage of the first Brothers he personally trained.  More than a pedagogue, he was an adult educator and trainer, a practitioner of andragogy. In the  Rule of the Brothers, Duties of a Christian, Collections, Meditations and Method of Interior Prayer, he exhorted his adult learners, the Brothers, to be  men of God, men of refinement, and men primarily dedicated to the education of the young, especially the youth at risk.

Conclusion.  This article was not intended to make pedagogy a straw man.  It simply calls attention to the fact that adult education at a higher level has a different audience.  As such, a new language has been created  to explore and develop theories and strategies needed to facilitate adult learning (Brookfield: 2005, Mezirow: 2000).  By admitting that professors are teaching adults, not children, the educational possibilities on how learning should take place is vast and enormous.  Traditional classroom once considered the center of learning may yet be expanded to a  universe of virtual classrooms, waiting to be explored by adult learners of  the Digital Age.


Brookfield, Stephen D. (2005).  The power of critical theory for adult learning.  England: Open
University Press.
Brown, Juanita (2005). The world café shaping our future through conversations that
matter.  San Francisco: Barrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Gribbin, John (1998). Q is for quantum: Particle physics from a to z. London: Weidenfield &
Knowles, Malcolm (1980).  What is androgogy in The modern practice of adult
education. Chicago: Follet Publishing).
Koch, R. (2004). Livingthe 20/80wWay: Work Less, Worry less, succeed more, enjoy
more. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
Mesirow, J. (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on the theory of progress.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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