How has clinical psychology contributed to andragogy?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Andragogy is the theory and practice of education for adults. In contrast pedagogy is the theory and practice of education for children. The concept was introduced by German Alexander Kapp but popularized by American Malcolm Knowles.

One contribution from clinical psychology to andragogy came from Erikson. He posited eight life stages for human life. This contributed to andragogy in that adult education philosophy came to be designed to accord with his identification of adult-life needs, such as generativity (useful productiveness) and integrity (meaningful life of contribution to society). The first, generativity, is applicable to middle aged working adults, while the second, integrity, is applicable to older, perhaps retired, adults.

Another contribution to andragogy came from Carl Rogers as a humanist advocating self-actualization, his ideas meshed with Knowles who asserted that self-actualization was a key goal to adult education. Rogers' model cast the educator as a coach in the education process who set the caring and supportive environment for the learner to free to realize potential and be fully independent.

Another contribution came from Carl Jung, whose concept of individuation applies to adults in the latter half of life desiring to turn inward to build an inner life to support--or build--a sense meaning and purpose. The formation of new goals later in life, when perhaps facing despair, can revitalize and re-energize the older adult. Jung also contributes to andragogy through his concept of information extraction and internalization through emotion, sensation, intuition and thought.

While Freud's clinical theory doesn't make as much of a direct contribution to adult education (analysis of dreams and free association don't fit class syllabuses), his discovery of the subconscious world of motivation and reaction is applicable to aiding adults to overcome resistance to facing the fear of reentering educational setting and to helping them achieve mastery over perhaps repressed fears of failure from early educational experiences.

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