Adventures in Learning: Some Reading Responses

So these are some of the smaller thoughts I have about the readings.  I have 2 posts that are forthcoming and likely to be more substantive and critical, but here's something to hold you over in the meantime:

Learning About Andragogy and Its Discontents

I was happy that Knowles had been taken to task in Merriam.  I couldn't help but think about as I read it, how much he in his writing and direction appeared to be more pedagogical in his approach than andragogical (after all, if a book is a tool of learning, then should there not be some means of changing the tone and approach to meet andragogical approaches--if there is such a thing as distinctly "andragocial").  

Knowles ideas parted ways with me very early.  First, I'm surprise no mention or exploration in the education within the military as there must be substantive information and ideas about how that works (or doesn't?) and what kind of return the military gets from its approaches to training and learning.  Then, Knowles says, "The pedagogical model assigns the teacher full responsibility for making all decisions about what will be learned, how it will be learned, when it will be learned, and if it has been learned"  (Pg 52).  I know Knowles was writing this in the 1970s, but doesn't this ignore the role of administration such as principals, school boards, and even state and federal standards of content, learning and measurement?  To ignore the massive machinery behind the teacher seems to be problematic misstep.

Additionally, Knowles discussion about self-direction of learning sounds nice in theory, but falls apart when we look at certain types of content.  Generally speaking, "self-direction" or "student-lead" should not be a method or approach to learning surgery, operating large machinery, or police training.  That is, his ideas about a self-directed approach only really work with things that don't necessarily have the potential to harm people if someone goes off track.  

Practically Intelligent

Tenant and Pogson's differentiating between academic and practical intelligence I think is quite useful.  Though my background lends me to being that academically intelligent person (proudly nerdy since the 1980s), I've recognized and consciously work to achieve practical intelligence too, building practical skills over the last few years such as cooking, gardening, and light tool work.  In their discussion of the contrast and tension between practical and academic intelligence, it invoked something I discuss at length in my popular culture course.  The course is centered on exploring and understanding the underpinnings of popular culture.  One of the core underpinnings of popular culture is that it is less valuable or relevant than elite culture.  Practical intelligence like popular culture is devalued (which makes sense because when we think of popular culture such as a Red Sox game, we picture the drunken and obnoxious people that come along with it--and whether consciously or unconsciously, assume they are from blue-collar backgrounds as mechanics or plumbers or construction workers:  filled with practical intelligence but not necessarily academic intelligence).  What's interesting about this distinction is that it flows also over into politics and the U.S.'s history of anti-intellectualism that remains a part of political rhetoric as well.  The candidates attempt to present and pretend they sit side by side with the "common man" (common as popular culture; common as everyday knowledge one needs to exceed in their lives), all the while, maintaining advance degrees usually from Ivy League schools.  They try not to bring attention to such things but perk up for photo ops bowling, eating hot dogs at a game, or just chilling at a bar.  


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