Tell me Why
Why the 'Why' is so important in adult
I learned a new word today: andragogy. The
worrying thing is that it turns out this is what I
do for a living; or at least it's related to it.
Andragogy is the word for a model of
instruction used for adults (as opposed to
pedagogy for children).
You can all now pretend you knew that
One of the most important aspects of
andragogy is that it recognises that adults
need a reason for their learning. They like to
solve problems and for their learning to be
self-directed. As children we went to school
and learned because that's what kids do. If
any of us had thought to ask an adult why we
had to go to learn something the answer
would have been a terse, 'Because I said so.'
And that would have been that.
Time for a quick story: My dad was the head
of the high school I went to. Yes, it was very
embarrassing. Like many of you, my highschool years were dominated by the prospect
of end-of-school exams; but they were also
marked by recurring arguments with my dad.
Arguments about the reams of homework that
seemed to get me nowhere, the mandatory
subjects that I would never use again and the
frustrating lack of information about things that
might actually be helpful in life; such as
politics and current affairs, day-to-day living
and managing personal finances.
At the time, although it was often dispiriting,
and I blamed myself for not being 'clever
enough' to take it all in, I still questioned how
much use what I was learning was all going to
be. When I was told I had to spend weeks
taking a series of horribly difficult exams my
response was 'Why?' (Actually, it might have
been 'Whyyyyyyyyyy??') It occurs to me now
that we take our final exams, technically, as
adults. The pedagogical model is already out
As adults we're not usually called students
anymore; we're 'learners'. This is part of
recognising that we're not at school anymore,
and 'Because I said so' isn't going to cut it.
We need a good reason to sit down and
So how can we, as learning designers, meet
Senior Learning Designer