What Makes Adult Education Different?

In what ways is it different from the traditional K-12 education model? What is the significance of this? Inquire about adult education and adolescence.

What’s distinctive about education for adults? First, let’s take a look at pedagogy and andragogy, the two most common types of educational methods. Teaching is defined as a “art, science, or profession” by Merriam Webster’s online dictionary. Although pedagogy is often used to refer to the K-12 model, it is more commonly used to describe the Socratic method, in which teachers teach and students listen. Instructor-to-student transmission of information is common, and the learner is mostly reliant on the instructor for all knowledge acquisition. All of the responsibility for what is taught falls on the shoulders of the teacher or instructor.

Andragogy, on the other hand, assumes that the learner is self-motivated. Learners are ultimately responsible for their own education. Approaches like this one require a lot of self-reflection. Andragogy encourages the learner to add his or her personal experiences to the learning process. As an adult learner, you are a source of knowledge and a contributor to the learning process. The pedagogical paradigm has less of a built-in readiness to learn using this technique. Self-motivation arises from the desire to learn in order to improve one’s performance or reach one’s objectives.
As a result, the focus of adult education is shifting to teaching us the skills and knowledge we’ll need to achieve our individual life goals. The second method of study is more of a prerequisite for obtaining a foundational set of qualifications. Much less individualised and focused on particular outcomes are common in this type of instruction. While K-12 education is more teacher-centered, adult education places an emphasis on student participation based on life experience.

Because our aims are so dissimilar, the approach of adult education is critical to us. It’s all about getting the job done or gaining a new set of skills. Adults are less concerned with their GPAs and more concerned with reaching specific objectives. In most cases, the learner’s goals are more practical and focused on specific results.

Our senses are constantly bombarded with a slew of different forms of information in the 21st century. Learning is a lifelong process that is necessary for survival and even for success. Lifelong learning is a reality for most people, regardless of whether or not they are aware of the term. Adult education is fundamentally different from our schooling because of our drive and our necessity. An option for adult education becomes an option rather than a need.

Copyright Boyd K. Smith, Ph.D., November 4, 2009

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