Monday, 12 March 2012


This week, we in the Animation Course in IADT prepare for a public tussle with our Irish animation industry stakeholders over ‘animation education and training’. Whilst we hugely value employment in the animation industry as one desirable outcome of our educational endeavours, we do not exist solely to ‘deliver high-calibre graduates to the animation sector’. Industry tends to have a necessarily blinkered and myopic approach to our educational ambitions and endeavours. Most animation studio heads and MD’s in Ireland experienced education through more vocational, training models, many years ago. Their understanding of current education is pretty limited. Their pressing needs and requirements are immediate and wholly commercial.

I’ve also been reading infed’s article on andragogy – clearly a contested term.

The article is scathingly negative, framing andragogy as something notional, not theoretical - ‘a set of assumptions’ the author argues at one point. Late on in the article, the author quotes Jarvis (1985) in identifying that andragogy is rather a new conceptualization of education itself…

‘We need to be extremely cautious about claiming that there is anything distinctive about andragogy. In his reference to romantic and classic notions of curriculum Jarvis (1985) brings out that what lies behind these formulations are competing conceptualizations of education itself. Crucially, these are not directly related to the age or social status of learners. There are various ways of categorizing strands of educational thinking and practice - and they are somewhat more complex than Knowles' setting of pedagogy against andragogy. In North American education debates, for example, four main forces can be identified in the twentieth century: the liberal educators; the scientific curriculum makers; the developmental/person-centred; and the social meliorists (those that sought more radical social change) (after Kliebart 1987). Another way of looking at these categories (although not totally accurate) is as those who see curriculum as:

 •the transmission of knowledge,


 •process, and


 Viewed in this way - Knowles' version of pedagogy looks more like transmission; and andragogy, as represented in the chart, like process. But as we have seen, he mixes in other elements - especially some rather mechanistic assumptions and ideas which can be identified with scientific curriculum making.’

If andragogy can be framed as a re-conceptualization of education, I think it could form a useful theoretical basis for some of the challenges we currently face – helping students to learn, rather than ‘teaching’, allowing students to participate in the formation of curriculum, and incorporating flexible learning and blended learning into our educational structures.

I still have a fondness for the ‘notion’ of teaching adults, rather than teaching children.

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