Andragogy vs Pedagogy in residential care

Attending a major conference for residential child care practitioners last week in Cardiff it was rewarding to participate in sharing how theory and practice interact. Being a children’s event inevitably the topic of social pedagogy arose with those in favour and against expressing their opinions. Great that there is the space and confidence to do this. What passed through my mind was what would practitioners in older persons home make of all this?

A couple of years ago I had the same thought when undertaking some work on possible implications of social pedagogic thinking in the youth services. At the time I googled around a bit and discovered the notion of andragogy. Returning to these thoughts I am increasingly convinced that social care practice in older persons homes benefits from underpinning vision and clarity of theoretical models. Ideas around andragogy offer such a model based on self-directed and informal learning, the diversity of groups, adults as a resource for each other and the pursuit of self-actualisation.

Whilst andragogic thinking may sound a long way from practice reality it has the potential to give greater credibility to self-directed care and personalisation in care homes. Good practitioners know that choice, dignity and individualised approaches based on relationships is the right way to work with residents. For them practice is not about ‘task and finish’ but about ensuring a valued life experience. Andragogy offers the practitioner the theory to put these beliefs into practice. It creates a platform for debate and discussion to share good practice at conferences and workforce development events. It could create the same space and confidence for care practitioners in older persons homes to learn from the views and opinions of professional colleagues as residential child care demonstrated last week in Cardiff.

Educationalists debate differences between pedagogy and andragogy – between children learning from teachers and instructors as opposed to a more self-directed model for adults. Social pedagogy advocates that children grow and learn in different ways at different times – using hands, head and heart. Social andragogy could be shaped as the theory that (re) introduces lifelong learning, self-directed support, cooperative care and the benefits of group living into all forms of residential care including older persons homes. Find out more and google ‘andragogy’.