Andragogy Assignment Essay, Research Paper
ANDRAGOGY ASSIGNMENT. Title:”Children at school often fail because they are subject to a prescribedre-gime of education, determined by adults (cf. John Holt). The Adult,however, en-tering Higher Education enters a new experience of learningwherein there is a greater reliance on self.” Discuss.”Lying on your back in the dark. Imagine! Imagine an educational systemthat does not discriminate against class, creed, age or ability. Imagine asystem that operates without political interference or control. Where thetransfer of knowledge is a two way process. A place where people congregateto experience from one another. A system that teaches love and theacquisition of knowledge. Not for power and control, but to admire,appreciate and sustain the beauty of this planet. Imagine!This essay will suggest at the reasons why some children in edu-cation fail. Why Higher Education is suited for the adult learner and the varyingconcepts within education. It is suggested (Marou, 1982) that throughouthistory societies have sought to educate their people. Philosophers haveinvariably recognised the educational value of intel-lectual exploration andconcrete experimentation. The term education has had a variety ofdefinitions. The traditional view of education is that of a formal setting,to be carried out by the educational establish-ments. Perhaps a moreaccurate view of education is that of a life long process that includes bothformal instruction and the broad range of other experiences, including themedia, relationships, peer groups and the family to mention but a few. Theseless formal educational experi-ences usually occupy more time and often exertmuch more powerful influences than the formal approach. There are a variety of approaches to formal education. Educa-tors havedebated over different approaches since education as a con-cept was”developed in Egypt and Sumer as early as the beginning of the 3d millenniumBC” (Marrou 1982). Conservative educators regard the teacher as the one whoknows and the student as someone who does not know but needs to. Progressiveeducators regard the student’s in-terests as the beginning point in theireducation. The subject matter should consist of activities that enable thestudent to draw on their own experiences. The humanistic educator perceivesthe student as an equal. The student is the best judge of his or heremotions, perceptions and experiences. The humanist educator, however,requires the student to check and verify this personal knowledge against theperceptions of others and the legacy of the past. This begs the question,which is the most appropriate educational approach for people in society ? To establish the best approach for an educational system it is necessary toconsider the successes and failures of established educa-tional systems. Thedifficulty with judging success and failure is that, a persons perception ofsuccess can be another persons perception of failure. The attempt to measureand compare the achievements and failures of cultural and social diverseindividuals, has caused much dispute in educational circles (Sergeant 1975). However, statistics collated meas-uring the final achievement of pupils fromdifferent social back-grounds, clearly indicates the success of the middleclass culture in education. See table 1. (Jackson 1952. Cited Sergeant1975). Table 1. People in society have been known to refer to instances of the working classboy / girl becoming socially upwardly mobile. i.e. the ‘rags to riches’story. However, such instances do not demonstrate that equality of opportunity in education exists. No more than the fact that one doctormurders his wife indicates that doctor’s wives are highly vulnerable tomurder. An American sociologist Herbert H. Hyman discovered three maindiffer-ences between the working class and the middle-class value system: Members of the working class have a lower emphasis on education. They placea lower value in occupational mobility. Finally, the working class believethat there is less opportunity for personal advancement. One other factor inyoung people failing in education is money. A family on a low income willfind it hard to provide their children with the same educationalopportunities, as a family on a higher income. (Sergeant 1975). Thestatistics available from formal education in Britain clearly indicate thatsocial class origins are strongly and clearly implicated in educationalsuccess or failure (Haralambos 1992). Jones, (1983) indicates that theeducational system exists to sustain the status quo within society. Theruling classes dictate the educational systems and thus oppress the othersocial classes:”……stressed the class character of the state institutions: they werethere to defend and reproduce the existing order……” (Jones 1983). A far reaching work on class and education has been under-taken by Halsey,Heath and Ridge, (1980). Halsey et. al.’s work is a study of over 8,500males born between 1913 and 1947. They consid-ered, amongst other things, aboy from the service class compared to a boy from the working class, ashaving a forty times greater chance of attending a Public School and a threetimes greater chance of attending a Grammar School. Halsey et. al. definesthe ’service class’ as profes-sionals, administrators and managers and’working class’ as manual and agricultural workers. They also found, a boyfrom the service class, compared to his working class peer, was four times aslikely to be found at school at the age of sixteen, and ten times as likelyat the age of eighteen. Although this study was of males only, Halsey et. al. maintained, that there is no evidence to suggest that class differencesin education differ for females. (Halsey 1980). Studies conducted by Halsey et. al. see Table 2, also found clear classdifferences in educational achievement. Halsey also spoke out in NewSociety:”…..the usefulness of education as a means of increasing equality ofopportunity is now severely in question. Schools cannot accomplish importantsocial reforms such as the democratisation of opportunity unless socialreforms accompany the educational effort”. (New Society, 1978). With these clear differ-ences highlighted in table 1 and table 2, thequestion arises: Why do young people from the lower class stratificationfail in education ?Table 2. There are many factors contributing to young people from the lower classfailing in education. The most commonly used criteria is that ofintelligence. (Haralambos 1992). The Education Act of 1944 established thetripartite system of education. Young people were streamed into three typesof school. The eleven plus intelligence test was used to determine whichyoung person went to either the grammar, technical or secondary modernschool. Educational psychologists, such as Sir Cyril Burt, were influentialin establishing this system. Sir Cyril Burt’s research appeared to show that
intelligence was inherited and could be measured by a test. This helpeddevelop the tripartite system with young people streamed into the school tosuit their ability. Conse-quently more middle-class children gained placesat the Grammar school. Sir Cyril Burt’s research was latter discredited bythe Government, as much of it had been fabricated. This led to thetripartite system to be slowly dis-banded and replaced by the comprehensiveeducational system. (Haralambos 1992). The comprehensive educational systemdeveloped rapidly in Britain;”…Britain has been won by the comprehensive idea: Comprehensive now take80% of all state secondary pupils…..” (New Society, 1978). Researchers argue that IQ tests are biased in favour of the middle classes. This is due to the fact that the tests are constructed by and standardisedon distinct members of this group. To collaborate this theory OttoKlineberg, a Canadian psychologist, has performed a number of experimentsaround the world. An example is that of the Yakima Indian children who livein the Washington State. They were asked to place objects into theirrespective holes in a block of wood. All completed the task in a relativelysimple manner. However, they would have failed the test as the allotted timehad expired. Otto found that the Yakima culture did not put a great emphasison speed. (Haralambos 1992). This and similar research help prove that IQtests are a unreli-able way to measure a cultural and socially diversesociety. However, in 1987 the Government decided to introduce a new formof intelligence test which has developed over recent years, to muchopposition from educators:”Children will be tested at seven, eleven, fourteen and sixteen, and tenfoundation subjects will leave little time for ‘clutter’ – like peacestudies – if legislation outlined yesterday for a national curriculum goesthrough.” (Guardian, 1987). A. S. Neill argues that intelligence should not be tested and the youngperson should be allowed to develop to the level he or she wish to achieve: “Summerhill is a place in which people who have the innate ability and wishto be scholars will be scholars; while those who are only fit to sweep thestreet will sweep the streets. But we have not pro-duced a street-cleanerso far.” (Neill, 1960). The main body of this discussion has been the economic and social issuesaffecting educational achievement. These are fundamental factors which addto the prescribed regime of education. The other ingredient is that of thestyle of teaching. The statistics examined above all relate to the narrativeapproach to education. Where, as Paulo Freire states;”Narration leads the students to memorise mechanically the narratedcontent. Worse still, it turns them into ‘containers’, into receptacles tobe filled by the teacher. The more completely he fills the receptacles, thebetter a teacher he is. The more meekly the receptacles permit themselvesto be filled, the better the student they are.” (Freire P. 1972). This is the ‘banking’ concept of education, where the young person haslittle control and less input into their education. There are many theories and practices on ‘progressive educa-tion.’ Theintellectual origins of which stem back to 1762, with Jean Jacques Rousseau,being the principle critic of 18th century rational-ism. Rousseau argued,”the spontaneous impulses of children were healthy and should not berepressed by adult demands for emotional restraint, intellectual precision,and social conformity.” (Grolier, 1993.) This romantic naturalism provided a justification for such educators as, F. W. A. Froebel, founder of the first kindergarten. J. F. Herbart, who studiedthe psychology of children and suited instruction to their needs. (Grolier,1993). By the 1930’s experimental school’s like Summerhill, had developedover the world. Summerhill is a coeducational primary and secondary school, established byA. S. Neil in 1921 in Leiston, Suffolk. Students are free to study what theywish or not to study at all. Neil (1961) wrote; Chil-dren find out forthemselves what they need to know, they learn at a rapid rate and aretherefore in a position to catch up fairly quickly with the others. Thestudents are able to do as they wish as long as they do not interfere withthe freedom or safety of others. Neil measures the success of a school bythe happiness of its ‘alumni’. Summerhill is governed by an assembly inwhich each student and teacher has one vote. With these different styles of’progressive education’ there is a great reliance on self motiva-tion. Thisis similar to the adult educational system. Within the adult educational system, liberal or open pedagogy sees learningas a process and not just the acquisition of specific knowledge. For this todevelop the person receiving the education is required to fulfil a number ofcriterion. The student must be intrinsically motivated, accept personalresponsibility and possess life experiences. Entwistle, (1983) wrote olderlearners are likely to have ’strong personal interests in studying’ whichrequire utilisation of ‘life experience’ and ‘idiosyncratic interest’. Thisstatement collaborates the research undertaken by Lan-caster University, ‘TheGothenburg Studies.’ (Enteistle and Ramsden, 1983). Until recently, little work had been carried out to test qualitativedifferences in learning among older people specifically. However, theresearch that has been undertaken by Lancaster University indicates that: This form of educa-tion is well suited to the older person as it enablesthem to re-define, re-interpret and re-evaluate themselves. The use of aclosed pedagogical system would not give the freedom to the learner todefine, self ! The older adult entering this system does have the means foreffective learn-ing. However the educator must be sensitive to the needs ofthe adult. Each adult will have variations in learning as a result oflife-time habits and preferences or as a consequence of a particular stage oflife. (Brookfield 1983). The whole tenor of the above indicates a view aboutadult education and an attitude to adult learning. Thorpe, (1993) clarifiesthis ‘attitude’ to ANDRAGOGY:”…..the various roles of adult life are inevitable and people must learnto cope with them as they arise; and the adult education agencies, if theywish to be successful, should gear their marketing and instructionalactivities to cater for the different needs of adults at differentlife-stages……” (Thorpe, 1993). In conclusion, it may be suggested that the educational status of anindividual is largely determined by the method of teaching and selfperception coupled with an individuals social and economic background. Imagine! Imagine an educational system that does not discriminate againstclass, creed, age or ability. Imagine a system that operates withoutpolitical interference or control. Where the transfer of knowledge is a twoway process. A place where people congregate to experience from one another. A system that teaches love and the acquisition of knowledge. Not for powerand control, but to admire, appreciate and sustain the beauty of this planet. Imagine an educational system as an utopian ideal rather that an educationalsystem as a reality………..