This really is about storytelling. Stick with me.
What is Andragogy? Andragogy is almost the opposite of Pedagogy. Did that help? How about this? Pedagogy is the style of teaching that is practiced in most of our public schools. Pedagogy is a model for learning. It means, the teacher is in charge of disseminating all the knowledge. The students are to absorb everything from the teacher, who is the expert in the area being taught. It is not necessary to have a high interaction between the students and the teacher. The lesson does not depend on the past experiences of the student.
This works pretty well for children, but usually not very well for adults. As a matter of fact, the average adult will probably dislike this kind of instruction.
Andragogy is different. Andragogy is another model of instruction in which the student plays a large part in what is being taught. The teacher is more a facilitator than an expert. They may be completely knowledgeable in this subject area, but it is up to the teacher to bring out the knowledge the students already have that relates to the subject. Andragogy can also be called "Adult Learning Theory". This model of instruction encourages interaction between student and teacher, as a matter of fact, it depends on it.
The teacher must help the students understand something in the students previous experience that relates to their current learning. They must set up a context within which to understand the new ideas relative to something they learned previously. There is actually a lot more to this, but I wont get into that. What I really want to get across is how storytelling makes this happen.
Remember, this really is about storytelling.
What is the best way for one person to share an experience with another person. Thats right, tell them a story. Andragogy is filled with stories. The teacher tells stories. The participants tell stories. The whole experience works best IF everyone shares their experience or STORY with the rest of the group. That is where learning happens. Someone tells a story which explains the topic better than simple facts. Typically a story told by the participants will revolve around a problem they had. The teacher then facilitates a process that helps the student understand how they could have resolved the problem they had using the information they are now learning, or another student may do this. Students wrestle with problems and answers...all using stories.
The stories are easier to relate to and therefore easier to learn from. You learn based on someone elses experience.
What is the impact of Andragogy on storytellers? You have millions of people around the world who are attending college courses, professional seminars, and training classes who are learning in this model. They are such an important part of the learning that whether they can tell a good story will actually affect the level of learning for every other person in the course. Participants in these types of courses must be able to logically tell a story that includes a beginning, an ending, and a point/purpose.
Are there any opportunities for professional storytellers to help out here? YES, there are. Throughout the corporate world everyday, people are telling stories and in their training classes they really get put to the test. Storytellers have the history and experience of how to build a good story "on the fly", or without much planning. There are opportunities for storytellers to share this with the corporate world.
Obviously, learning will still happen without storytelling. But learning can become better and richer with a simple understanding of storytelling
C. 2001 Mike Abrams is the past president and co-founder of storyteller.net