Learner-centric education

capable

Learner-centric education

During the 15th century, teacher-led child education was common; here, the teacher took full responsibility for the learning environment and the child was completely dependent on teacher’s knowledge and expertise. The idea of the child as a blank canvas or tabula rasa was prevalent. In education, pedagogy takes care of what is to be learnt and how. These are both determined and directed by the teacher.

Knowledge transfer

Transferring the knowledge to the student can be done in many ways. For instance, in andragogy, it is determined by the teacher and directed by the learner. Originally used by Alexander Kapp, a German educator in 1833, andragogy was developed into a theory by American Educator Malcolm Knowles. Andragogy refers to the methods or techniques used to teach adults. Malcolm asserted that andragogy, which in Greek means ‘man-leading’, should be distinguished from the more commonly used pedagogy, which in Greek means ‘child-learning’.

In heutagogy, however, both determination and direction shift to the learner. The term heutagogy was coined by Stewart Hase and Chris Kenyon of Southern Cross University, Australia. Heutagogy is the study of self-determined learning. The notion is an expansion and reinterpretation of andragogy, and it is possible to mistake it for the same.

However, there are several differences between the two. Heutagogy places specific emphasis on learning — how to learn, double loop learning, universal learning opportunities, non-linear process, and true learner self-direction. Whereas, andragogy focuses on the best ways for people to learn. Heutagogy also requires educational initiatives that include the improvement of people’s actual learning skills. Similarly, andragogy focuses on structured education, in heutagogy all learning contexts — both formal and informal — are considered. In heutagogy, the mentor helps in modifying existing knowledge and creating new knowledge.

In a heutagogical approach to teaching and learning, learners are highly autonomous and self-determined and the emphasis is placed on development of learner capacity and capability with the goal of producing learners who are well prepared for the complexities of contemporary workplace. In fact, the heutagogic process helps in capacity building of
individuals.

Capable people are those who know how to learn, are creative, have a high degree of self-efficacy, can apply their competencies in new and familiar situations and can work well with others.

According to Malcolm, self-directed learning is a process in which individuals take the initiative with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.

Flexible learning

A heutagogical approach recognises the need to be flexible in the learning where the teacher provides resources but the learner designs the actual course by negotiating the learning. Thus, learners might read around critical issues or questions and determine what is of interest and relevance to them and then take up further reading and assessment tasks. As a result, assessment becomes more of a learning experience rather than a means to measure attainment.

As teachers, we should concern ourselves with developing the learner’s capability not just enforcing discipline based skills and knowledge. Heutagogy is appropriate to the needs of learners in the 21st century, particularly in the development of individual capability. Therefore, a shift in thinking towards heutagogy will enable the control of learning to move more appropriately to the learner.

(The author is with NCERT, Mysuru)

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