I continued to teach this way until 20 years ago, at which time I completed a formal trainer program where I was introduced to facilitation, i.e. encouraging self-learning by making the process easier for the student. I was taught an Andragogic approach to training (Malcolm Knowles - adult learning principles), to value input from students, to work with students in groups, to put students into the ‘Affective’ domain and then draw them back into the ‘Cognitive’ domain (Blooms Taxonomy), to facilitate learning and self-development through reflective practice (Donald Schon), to motivate students to want to learn (Abraham Maslow).
I embraced this approach to learning and saw the benefits of it, how the energy can lift in a room, how animated learners get when they are involved, the positive responses to learning by doing, and not least the atmosphere of mutual trust that can be established between learners and a trainer. Of course all designed to deepen the learning for the learner.
I have also seen the costs of facilitation. The student that remains uninvolved, for example not actively contributing to role-plays or research, edging to the side lines whilst their colleagues do all the work. The student that would rather be told what to do and how to do it. The separation of the group into 'cliques' as mutual learning styles (David Kolb) come to the fore.
When ‘let off the leash’, and expected to take responsibility for their own development, learners can also become disorientated. They may feel 'forced' to move out of their ‘comfort zone’ and to ‘stretch’ themselves, which can be an uncomfortable experience. The knock-on effect of this is that it can affect group dynamics, including creating conflict which the trainer then has to find time to address, time that could be better spent learning.
I have experienced both good and bad facets of purely facilitative and purely front-loaded training, and can see the benefits of adopting a more balanced approach, where the trainer moves from Andragogic to progressive Pedagogic, full Pedagogic and back to Andragogic. This allows students used to a Pedagogic teaching style to remain in a state of equilibrium, but also enables them to acclimatise to an Andragogic approach more readily when it is introduced during lessons. This in turn can lessen the impact on the student and reduces the likelihood of resistance to the facilitative style.
The following chart, created by floridatechnet.org, presents the distinctions between a Pedagogic and Andragogic approach:
Have you struggled with balancing a Pedagogic and Andragogic approach? What impact did it have on you and your learners? How did you effectively address this?