From Andragogy to Heutagogy with Circles…

I spent most of my graduate school years (in the 1970s) studying the foundations of Adult Learning as set forth by Malcolm Knowles who advised educators to move into a new age of appreciation for the self-directed adult learner. His book, The Modern Practice of Adult Education; Andragogy versus Pedagogy (see below), guided much of my curriculum and influenced my thinking for my career as a nurse-educator.

Now, I’m learning a new word for how we need to think about expanding the knowledge and understanding of adults, Heutagogy.  If Pedagogy is the instruction of children, and Andragogy is the teaching of adults, Heutagogy is the practice of inspiring the self-determined adult learner – creating a space where the inquiring adult not only directs the CONTENT of their learning, but also the PROCESS by which they might best learn.

An adult learner with curly hair pulled back into a pony-tail sits at her desk with her laptop, with a bowl and spoon held in one hand while the other taps a key on the keyboard. There are plants on either side of the desk, a brick wall in the back of the image, and a mason jar with dried flowers next to the laptop.

Recently, I enrolled in a learning series that is training me to become a Circle Keeper. This concept comes from the appreciation for most ancient cultures in which we humans learned our ways of being through listening to and contributing to a collective knowledge, shared in the Circle.

In every culture that recreates the Circle, there are Circle Keepers – often elders who guide the conversation so that it is ultimately productive for the community and insightful for the individual participants.  To be invited into the Circle is an honor in most cultures and a responsibility to see oneself as both a seeker and provider of truth.

The Circle (as I’m learning this educational technology) is a marvelous example of Heutagogy. In its modern application as a process for building community, sharing knowledge and healing wounds (among other uses) the Circle provides a nearly-perfect opportunity for participants to select their learning content (Which Circle might I join?) and determine their learning outcomes (What can I take from this experience?).

I share this with you today because I’m noticing that the process and practice of the Circle is very consistent with the definition of Self-Care that has been part of these messages for nearly four years now: Self-care is every conscious action you take that feeds your soul, nourishes your body, nurtures your spirit, or replenishes your relationship with yourself!

The Circle, at its core, provides the opportunity for each participant to replenishes the relationship with themself!

Self-care is every conscious action you take that feeds your soul, nourishes your body, nurtures your spirit, or replenishes your relationship with yourself!

I’m learning that “In the Circle, people touch one another’s lives by sharing stories that have meaning to them” (Pranis, 2015). In these stories, we hear ourselves and summon our truths. In these stories we get to examine our core beliefs, see how well they serve us, and re-imagine our opportunities to grow and change.

I’m confident that once I’ve been through this training and had the opportunity to practice the role of Circle Keeper over time, I will be using this practice and its related processes to offer to you, my growing community, a variety of Circles which might become part of YOUR self-care strategies.

Stay tuned and be sure to let me know what sort of Circles might best provide YOU with an opportunity to explore what you wish to learn and replenishes your relationship with yourself as a growing and changing human, and as an absorbing and contributing adult learner!

References:

  •  Blaschke, L. M. (2012). Heutagogy and lifelong learning: A review of heutagogical practice and self-determined learning. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13(1), 56-71.
  • Knowles, M. S. (1970). The Modern Practice of Adult Education; Andragogy versus Pedagogy.
  • Pranis, K. (2015). Little book of circle processes: A new/old approach to peacemaking. Simon and Schuster.

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About Paula

I help other caregivers – both professionals and family caregivers – acknowledge their pain and learn to practice the many small skills of self-care that can sustain them through the challenges of wholeheartedly caring for others.

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How Can I Help You?

Through Co-Create 4 Life, you will learn a range of well-being strategies from skillfully implementing self-care to holistic approaches to well-being, rebuilding resilience, and battling burnout. Book a free consultation call today to discuss your options.

How Can I Help You?

Through Co-Create 4 Life, you will learn a range of well-being strategies from skillfully implementing self-care to holistic approaches to well-being, rebuilding resilience, and battling burnout. Book a free consultation call today to discuss your options.