A Primer on Three “gogies” #pedagogy #heutagogy #andragogy

Educational terminology can be difficult to follow, even if you are an educator.  Those of us in education have a way of developing new terms faster than we agree upon the definitions, and it sometimes requires understanding the earlier terms to have the context necessary to appreciate the newer ones. With that in mind, here is a quick primer on three of the more common “gogies” (pedagogy, andragogy, and heutagogy) followed by a list of more that you can explore on your own.


From the Greek, the word means “to lead the child,”  but it is not just about children. Most simply use it to mean, “the art and/or science of teaching and learning.”  Given a certain population of students and a given context, how do students best learn? What methods and strategies might one use to help students learn?  What skills does a teacher need to be effective?  These are the sort of questions that constitute what we mean by pedagogy.

Quite often, the term is used in reference to the methods and strategies used by teachers in order help students learn. You might refer to “good pedagogy” as the effective teaching methods. Notice that pedagogy is about the “how” of teaching, and less about the what of teaching.  In other words, pedagogy is about the methods and not the subject or content. I often encourage people to think about pedagogy as seeking answers to three important teaching and learning questions. 1) What do I want the students to learn? 2) How will I help them learn it? 3) How will I know when or if they learned it?


In the broadest sense, andragogy is the study of teaching and learning with adults.  It finds its meaning by contrasting it with pedagogy, arguing that there are important distinctions worth considering when it comes to teaching adults.  Malcolm Knowles is often referenced as the person who first popularized the term. Knowles argued that there are a number of factors that are distinct to the education of adults. For a quick and helpful summary of such distinctions, see the Wikipedia entry on andragogy.

Andragogy also tends to place an emphasis upon learner-centered and not teacher-centered strategies. As a result, there is more attention placed upon the activities of the learner than upon the strategies and behaviors of the teacher.

When I’ve read the earliest references to andragogy, the focus remained on the adult learner.  Yet, if we look at the writings of Dewey and a myriad of contemporary “pedagogies”, we see many similarities between Knowles’ concept of andragogy and the student-centered, experiential, and active learner emphases encouraged for learners of all ages.


Where andragogy grew out of the term pedagogy, heutagogy was created as an offshoot of andragogy.  We see that in Hase and Kenyon’s 2000 article entitled, “From Andragogy to Heutagogy.” Heutagogy maintains the andragogical learner-centered emphasis, but takes it a step further by also highlighting the importance of develop the skills necessary to learn on one’s own. As such, heutagogy is often described as the study of self-determined learning.  It is not just about learning content, but also learning how to learn.  It is an especially relevant approach in the digital age, given the vast amount of content and resources available to anyone with a device and Internet access.  Given so much information, how can people learn to leverage these resources to engage in lifelong learning?  Where pedagogy and andragogy continue to reflect upon the role of the teacher, heutagogy moves beyond this, focusing on the learner and this notion of self-determined learning (which is distinct from but related to self-directed learning). As explained by Hase and Kenyon, “the learner decides what and how to learn.”

By the way, this is definitely not an exhaustive list of the “gogies.”  Are you interested in exploring some of the others?  If so, consider the following:

  1. Critical Pedagogy
  2. Ecopedagogy
  3. Ubuntugogy
  4. Creative Pedagogy
  5. Peeragogy
  6. Hip Hop Critical Pedagogy
  7. Public Pedagogy