Learning -agogies

Ever wonder how many -gogies there are out there beyond pedagogy and andragogy? While a list like this may seem as repetitive, exhausting, or unnecessary to some , it is also an interesting study into how education is not a simple or black-and-white endeavor. Every one of these theories were created by people that thought the others that already existed were not accurately describing what they thought education was or should be. Therefore this list gets at the root of why Ed Tech solutionism is so problematic: people are unique, different, and ever-changing. We can’t have one idea or solution that works for all people at all times. We need to look at education as an individualized process of ever-changing sociocultural implications, not a standardized set of common core skills to master in clone-like fashion.

Pedagogy – the discipline that deals with the theory and practice of education [source]; often narrowed to focus on formal education of any person at any age. Technically, it means “to lead the child,” but many apply it to any education of people of any age. The word dates back to ancient Greece and the slaves who were put in charge of children in Greek households. In some contexts, this term does refer to only the formal education of younger/elementary age children (which is the technically correct meaning of the word), leading to confusion when different contexts interact. Also problematic when higher education practitioners utilize the term for their work, as it leaves no formal term specifically for elementary education (while there are plenty of terms below for adult education of different kinds). There have been no suggestions on what to replace it with – but see learnagogy below. It is also a term with a problematic history as a discipline, but since the 1950s, many important strides have been taken to view it as a philosophy called Critical Pedagogy that addresses these inequalities. See also Abolitionist Pedagogy, Aboriginal Pedagogy, and Feminist Pedagogy.

Andragogy (Anthropagogy) – traditionally seen as the theory and practice of education of adults [source]. Since the line between adult and child is not definite as far as education goes, a better way to look at this is a methodology that draws on the life experiences and existing knowledge of the learners to form the basis for further education (no matter their age). Sometimes seen as informal education, continuing education, or anything beyond undergraduate college education. Originally used in 1833. Technically the word means “to lead men,” so some have suggested anthropagogy as a better term – meaning “to lead humans.”

Heutagogy – the study of self-determined learning, or learning how to learn [source]. A learner-centric approach that mixes andragogy and pedagogy to encourage life-long learning. Officially “launched” (as one source put it ) in 2000. It appears to have gained more traction than other alternatives to pedagogy and/or andragogy.

Metagogy – a process of collaborative learning among adults that works on interdependence of learning for the advantage of the individual as well as the community [source]. Also another theory that combines pedagogy and andragogy. This concept appears to have emerged in the literature around 2009.

Synergogy (Synergagogy) – systemic approach to learning in which members of small teams learn from one another through structured interactions, thus the idea of synergy in learning [source]. Introduced in 1984. Sometimes, but rarely, spelled as synergagogy.

Geragogy (Eldergogy / Gerontogogy) – the theory and practice of educating the elderly [source]. Many have felt that educating the elderly requires its own theory. Books on this topic date back to at least 1978. Sometimes referred to as eldergogy, or even less rarely gerontogogy.

Peeragogy / Paragogy – a theory of peer-to-peer learning and teaching that addresses the challenge of peer-producing a useful and supportive context for self-directed learning [source]. Sometimes spelled paragogy.

Panicgogy / Panic-gogy – a tongue-in-cheek term coined by Sean Michael Morris and colleagues in 2020 to describe the sudden pivot to online learning created by COVID-19 lock-downs [source]. While it was a successful attempt to bring some relief to stress, it also highlights the need to focus course design on critical care and concern for learner well-being. It can also be seen as a way to apply critical pedagogy to emergency situations. These aspects often get overlooked in course design, so hopefully the successful parts of panicgogy will extend beyond the pandemic.

Cosmogogy – Described as “the method and practice of learning while connected to the world using digital technologies whereby the context of learning is ‘with’ rather than ‘about.’ It is not location based and considers who you learn with and what you construct together most important” [source]. Coined around 2016 by Julie Lindsey. Appears to overlap with connectivism. Proponents tend to present it as a missing piece alongside pedagogy, andragogy, and heutagogy, or even somehow “beyondheutagogy (which is not how heutagogy works). However, as presented, it appears more to be one way to accomplish pedagogy, andragogy, heutagogy, etc.

Learnagogy – the art of teaching one’s self, as in an individual’s art/process of learning [source]. This was an attempt to come up with a better term for teaching oneself (and since the Greek word for “own (self)” is ídios – it works better than idiagogy) that didn’t seem to outlast 2013. However, maybe it could be used in place of pedagogy for the theory and practice of teaching everyone? The Greek word for “everyone” is oloi, so…. olagogy doesn’t really work that well.

Technitagogy (Botagogy) – proposed term for the theoretical future field (that does not exist yet and may never) that seeks to teach artificial intelligence and bots more than program them [source]. Someday, someone will argue that Artificial Intelligence has transcended “mere” programming and needs to be “led” or “taught” more than “programmed.” From the Greek word for “artificial” (technitós), or the alternative possible term is from the shortened form of “robots.”

There are many other -agogy or -ology terms out there with some relation to education. Some are not fully formed epistomologies, while others are important classifications to note. Some of these terms could have interesting connotations if ever fully developed into epistomologies.

Agnotology – the strategic and purposeful production of ignorance [source]. Coined by Robert Proctor and Iain Boal in 1995 and explored in their edited volume Agnotology. This strategy is important to note, because things like erasing history or intentionally undoing scientific knowledge could be seen as an epistemological in nature (agnotogogy) to some, but definitely related to demagogy (below).

Anagogy / Anagoge – a spiritual interpretation or application of words (especially Scriptures), including those that seek allegorical interpretations or hidden meanings regarding the future or afterlife [source]. More commonly anagoge.

Apagogy – more of an obscure argument type where one more important part connects to another lesser part; for example, when a major point in an argument is evident but the minor point requires further proof, or when the first point in an argument is proven and is then used to prove other points [source].

Demagogy – defined as “political activity or practices that seek support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument” [source]. More often known as demagogue, it still shows how there are different forms of leading people to learn something, even if in an agnotological manner.

Dronagogy – proposed term for drone-based learning, more specifically the assembly and programming of drones [source]. Since it appears that drones are more of the topic or tool, a more accurate term would probably be dronology.

Mystagogy – this word means “to lead through the mysteries,” usually in relation to learning religious mysteries or how to participate in the sacraments of the Catholic church [source].

Xenagogy – An obsolete term for the leading or guiding of strangers [source].

As a footnote: there are many, many terms that haven’t been used…. probably for a good reason. Sometimes using faux-Greek word combinations doesn’t work that great (for example, Paradeigmagogy could be the theory and practice of teaching by example, from the Greek word parádeigma (example); or Provlimagogy could be the theory and practice of teaching with problems, or problem-based education, from the Greek word próvlima (problem)). Maybe it is time to look for terms outside of the Western world?

(Last updated September 24, 2020)