Andragogy versus Pedagogy

Andragogy versus Pedagogy

The distinction between the old style of university lecture learning (pedagogy – child learning) where the professor has the answer or it’s in a book, and our job is to write down as fast as possible the “nuggets” of information for the purpose of memorizing it for a test of recollection versus application filtered it’s way into business and leadership training within organizations a long time ago and even though it’s time has passed (while actually, it never really work all that well), there are still many organizations who are using an academic approach to attempting to develop leaders within their organization.  It’s usually referred to as “training” and it’s the mind-numbingly boring “fill my glass” approach to learning that causes most adults to slip into a waking coma for extended periods of time.

A few years ago (1833) a psychologist named Alexander Kapp developed a much better approach: Andragogy (adult learning).  This model supposes that the learner is involved in the design and evaluation of their learning, that mistakes are part of the process of refinement, that the subject being learned has relevance to their current situation, and that the learning is focused on problem solving versus memorizing content.

In my experience the andragogy approach leads to the key thing that’s required in leadership development: actual changes in behaviour over the long term.  Without an actual change in behaviour the result is “academics” who can preach about leadership but who demonstrate a complete lack of application.  We have a model that we use at ViRTUS called the Video Test: turn off the volume and watch what people do.  It’s a much better determinant of a person’s abilities.

When adragogy is blended with immersion and spaced repetition it’s amazing the difference in the ability of adults to take concepts and turn them into behaviours and habits.

Mike Desjardins

Mike is a a graduate of UBC’s Sauder School of Business with a Bachelors of Commerce, Mike has spent the past 21 years transforming businesses.


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