Heutagogy. Say what?

This post includes some thoughts and resources on heutagogy as a notion that seems to be gaining momentum in theories of adult education.

The concept of heutagogy is often expounded by contrasting it with the related concepts of pedagogy and andragogy. The term comes from the Greek words for ‘self’ and ‘leading’, which shows the underlying change of focus: from an external focus on ‘child’ and ‘adult’ in the two other approaches respetively, to an internal focus on ‘self’.

The differences between the three approaches are clearly presented in this useful chart.

The differences in focus suggested by the three terms can be observed at several levels. One of them is the level of control over the learning process (or learner autonomy if looked at from another angle): while pedagogy is most teacher-centred in this regard, andragogy and heutagogy are more learner-centred. However, heutagogy differs from andragogy in that, in the former, the learning design and approach are not linear, and heutagogy is even more learner-directed than the latter. In andragogy, the stress is on getting students to learn, while in heutagogy the stress is on getting students to understand how they learn. In other words, in a heutagogical approach, learners do not only acquire new knowledge or solve a problem, but they also reflect on how they arrived there. Knowing how to learn is seen as one of the fundamental skills of future workplaces. The focus is not so much on the content or outcome as on the process of mastering the content or arriving at the outcome, which is believed to have a bearing on learners’ preconceptions, values and attitudes. As a result, with regard to learning approach and cooperation, heutagogy has been usefully conceptualised as “knowledge sharing” as opposed to “knowledge hoarding”.

The differences between andragogy and heutagogy are succintly presented, with informative examples in this short video.

This frequently quoted article links heutagogy with lifelong learning, therefore emphasising the importance of the former in professional development. (Blaschke, L. (2012). Heutagogy and lifelong learning: A review of heutagogical practice and self-determined learning. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distance Learning, 13(1), 56-71.)

In this useful and interesting post, the concepts of pedagogy, andragogy and heutagogy are presented in analogy to the concepts of Education 1.0, Education 2.0 and Education 3.0 (which in turn bring to mind the concepts of Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and [the disputed] Web 3.0), with essentialism, constructivism and connectivism as the respective philosophical underpinnings. There are also practical examples of pedagogical, andragogical and heutagogical activities in a mobile environment. Recommended!

Heutagogy has attracted a number of educators who started forming heutagogy communities of practice, for example: http://heutagogycop.wordpress.com/ and https://twitter.com/HeutagogyCoP

There has even been a claim to introduce a related concept of e-heutagogy, although this calls a little for Occam’s razor to be applied…

From an educator’s perspective, it is useful to reflect on to what extent these three approaches can be and are implemented in actual teaching and learning contexts. This article¬†convincingly argues that despite the drive to implement more constructivist and connectivist approaches in adult education, the limitations of formal assessment and accreditation frameworks often result in a reversal to the teacher-centred, knowledge-hoarding pedagogical approaches. Consequently, the argument goes, teachers are often unable to fully implement either approach. Also, we need to take into consideration the reasons why adult learners decide to join formal educational institutions. As a result, although “the principles of heutagogy are seen as potentially improving or extending the theories of andragogy and pedaogy, the removal of the educator makes the concept of heutagogy impractical in a credentialing institution”.