The relation between the theory of heutagogy and a successful lifelong learning
Our world gets faster moving and changes itself every day. So there are for every worker new challenges daily. “Lifelong learning“ is a term which with we are confronted every day in our working life. But what does this means?
We connects learning often with school and so not with very positive memories. This documents Arnold in his book when he asked new students what comes spontaneously in their mind when they hear the term “to learn“ (cp. Arnold 2015, p. 1). The answers was things like “I have to force myself to learn“ or “Learning brings back unpleasant memories from my school days“ (cp. ibid.). So learning seems to be a negative thing which we do in school and are happy when we not have to do it anymore.
Researchers clarify another picture of learning. They say we as adults learn every day. “Almost everyone undertakes at least one or two major learning efforts a year, and some individuals undertake as many as 15 or 20. The median is eight learning projects a year, involving eight distinct areas of knowledge and skill“, says Tough in his book (cp. Tough 1971, p. 1). The reasons for the learning projects are very variable, like for highly practical reasons like to build something but also for certificates and to educate ourselves for job challenges (cp. ibid.). So the definition that Dunlap and Grabinger have given when they write: “Lifelong learning is intentional learning that people engage in throughout their lives for personal and professional fulfilment and to improve the quality of their lives” (Dunlap & Grabinger 2003, p. 6) seems solid and comprehensible. Hase and Kenyon supplements this when they say: “Learning is an integrative experience where a change in behaviour, knowledge or understanding is incorporated into the person's existing repertoire of behaviour and schema (values, attitudes and beliefs)” (cp. Hase & Kenyon 2007, p. 112). Learning can then see as self-organised adaption (cp. Hase 2009, p. 45).
So it is clear that learning is a process that we do every day and that has the power to change us. But sometimes there are situations in which we must learn for job challenges and so not for a voluntary purpose like the most things which Tough mentioned. Researchers enquires for strategies for a successful lifelong learning. In order to understand their thoughts, we have to clear some terms previously.
“Pedagogy” is a concept that everybody has heard at some point in life. In most heads it is connected with child education. That also describes Bhoyrub et al. in their essay: “[...] pedagogy today means the art or science to educating children. Within a pedagogical approach the educator assumes responsibility for deciding what will be learned and when it will be learned [...] Pedagogy today has come to represent teacher authority and control.” (Bhoyrub et al. 2010, p. 323). So some experts in this domain connects pedagogy with child education like our first intention. But another point of this citation seems much more interesting: The role of the teacher. In the model of pedagogy, the learner is dependent because he is a “beginner of learning” in the topic he is interested in. This also describes Hase: “In pedagogy, there is a high degree of dependence on the teacher, given a lower level of experience of the learner in the domain or subject area” (Hase 2009, p. 43). That means that the learner is reliant on the information and the knowledge of the teacher. So pedagogy can be seen as one stage in our learning process where the learner must show a lot of engagement because learning in a pedagogy way creates a basis for the sequel of learning (cp. Blaschke 2012, p. 60).
Another term which is connected with the concept of heutagogy is andragogy. Maybe this is not as popular as pedagogy. Malcom Knowles defined andragogy in 1970, especially for adult learning (cp. Hase & Kenyon 2007, p. 112). Descriptions like “[...] Andragogy [.] recognises the greater life experience that adults bring to their learning [...]” (Hase 2009, p. 44) or that andragogy is explained by things like “learner control and self-responsibility in learning, learner definition of learning objectives in relation to their relevance to the learner, a problem-solving approach to learning, self-directedness in how to learn, intrinsic learner motivation, and incorporation of the learner experience” (Blaschke 2012, p. 58) adumbrate the idea of andragogy very well. The term which described this characteristics of the concept of andragogy is “self- directed learning” (cp. ibid.). Knowles defined the term of self-directed learning as: “a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without help of others, in diagnosing their learning need, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes” (Knowles 1975, p. 18). The teacher has the role of a tutor and mentor and support the learners in his self-directed learning (cp. Blaschke 2012, p. 58). An important difference to pedagogy is that the learner is responsibility for his learning (cp. ibid.). But, as Hase says, “learning experiences are still highly teacher-driven and directed” (Hase 2009, p. 44). He and his colleague sum up the advantages and disadvantages of andragogy very well: “[...] andragogy principles certainly demonstrated the capacity for linking into the adult experience and recognised the advantages of self-directed learning. However, curricula were still very much teacher-centric with little opportunity for any real involvement at a micro or even macro level by the learner” (Hase & Kenyon 2007, p. 112). The role of the teacher in this concept is not easy to situate. Learn- Models like LENA which stand for lively and sustainable learning can help the teacher to find an effective way to teach in this andragogical process (cp. Quilling 2015). But a more detailed description of the LENA-model would lead us too far.
Perhaps you are wondering that you are reading an article about heutagogy and lifelong learning and have read until now about learning and lifelong learning - which seems comprehensible - but have got also lots of information about pedagogy and andragogy - concepts which were not mentioned in the title. But this information is needed to understand the concept of heutagogy which I want to present to you now.
“Heutagogy” - where does the name come from? It “is derived from the ancient Greek for ‘self’ with some adjustments and the ‘agogy’ added” (Hase & Kenyon 2007, p. 112) explain the authors Hase and Kenyon. The goal of heutagogy is the self-determinded learning (cp. Blaschke 2012, p. 58). A big different to the concepts which are presented in the previous part of the article “heutagogy is concerned with learner-centred learning that sees the learner as the major agent in their own learning, which occurs as a result of personal experience” (Hase & Kenyon 2007, p. 112). So “heutagogy applies a holistic approach to developing learner capabilities, with learning as an active and proactive process” (Blaschke 2012, p. 58), while pedagogy and andragogy promote the competencies of the learner. Hase adds in his essay that there are two levels of learning and that the first “has to do with the acquisition of knowledge and skills, or what are commonly called ‘competencies’” (Hase 2009, p. 44). This level is represented by the concepts of pedagogy and andragogy (cp. ibid.). The second level, which Hase calls “deeper learning” (cp. ibid.), because at this level there are complex neuronal interactions, is associated with the concept of heutagogy (cp. ibid.). Hase explains very interesting facts about the learning process: “Our experiences create new neuronal pathways, and these pathways can interconnect in unpredictable and complex ways; it is this interconnectedness that lies at the heart of understanding learning” (ibid.). This explains why he describe the second, heutagogical level as “deeper learning” (ibid.). Conditioned by these basic assumptions it is clear that the heutagog- ical learning process becomes less foreseeable, is not coercively in compliance with the goals of the teacher or the curriculum and can influenced by emotions (cp. ibid.).