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Heutagogy: The new lifelong-learning shift

Heutagogy is a student-centered instructional strategy to teach lifelong learning and aims to produce a learning ecosystem that is well-prepared for the complexities of today’s workplace.

By Sunil Dahiya

Heutagogy (pronounced hyoo-tuh-goh-jee) is a term derived from the Greek word heuriskein. It is a method of teaching that allows students to discover for themselves. The term was coined in 2000 by Hase and Kenyon to describe self-learning independent of formal teaching. It is a student-centered instructional strategy to teach lifelong learning and aims to produce a learning ecosystem that is well-prepared for the complexities of today’s workplace.

Heutagogy is different from other methodologies

Whereas pedagogy is focused on teacher-oriented learning and andragogy is self-directed learning, heutagogy has a different approach. In standard pedagogy, it is the teachers who decide on student learning and the ‘how’ of that learning. The reliance of the students on their teachers is high, and they learn topics in the hierarchical manner in which they are presented. The Andragogy methodology uses the teacher as a mentor or guide and enables students to find solutions for the teacher’s tasks.

On the other hand, in the heutagogical approach, the students explore their own problems/questions and seek answers. Instead of simply completing the tasks that the teacher has assigned, students delve into those areas of their subjects that are marked by uncertainty and complexity. Teachers only help by providing the students’ context and creating opportunities for them to explore the subjects in a 360-degree manner.

Heutagogy in education

The objective of pedagogical-oriented teaching is to provide training in basic skills that serve as a foundation for future life experiences. For andragogical oriented teaching, the objective is to create a structure and framework so that the learners can be self-directed. On the other side, for heutagogical oriented teaching, the aim is to foster a learning community that is focused on determining their own goals, learning paths, processes, and products. The learner is at the center of the learning process and takes precedence over the teacher and the curriculum.

There are no barriers to knowledge in the current system of education, and the skillsets needed for effective learning have changed dramatically. So, with the heutagogical approach, the student turns from being a recipient to an analyst.

This is a critical skill for students as they interact with a world in which knowledge management is more valuable than knowledge access. In this learning style, students think deeply about a problem and the actions they have taken to solve it while focusing on the problem-solving methodology itself. The idea is to encourage the students to question their assumptions, validate the same and gain insights into ‘what’ and ‘how’ they are learning.

Way forward

Heutagogy can be effective only if the curricula are flexible and give serious consideration to learner queries, motivations, and how their thinking shifts as a result of what they’ve learned. Students must create a curriculum for themselves that can adapt to their individual needs and help them in developing plans based on a set of defined learning objectives. They have the freedom to identify the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of their learning process. This is a personalized approach that can help students feel empowered and is a strong recipe for greater engagement.

Heutagogy is a powerful strategy based on self-determined and self-directed learning, providing students with the tools for life-long learning and growth in a highly autonomous manner. This approach has become more relevant in a pandemic and post-pandemic situation, with distance education being enabled by emerging technologies.

In essence, heutagogical practice is a way to better prepare students for the new-age workplace and acclimatize to the demands of a global knowledge economy, the fast-changing nature of jobs, and the frequent need to upskill, reskill, and multi-skill.

Source: India Today

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