From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
Andragogy consists of teaching strategies focused on adults. It is often interpreted as the process of engaging adult learners with the structure of learning experience.
Two primary understandings of ‘andragogy’ currently exist:
Interpreted broadly throughout the academic literature, the term also invites such definitions as ‘adult education practice,’ ‘desirable values,’ ‘specific teaching methods,’ ‘reflections,’ and ‘academic discipline,' with many authors claiming it to be better than traditional adult education.
The term has been used by some to allow discussion of contrast between self-directed and 'taught' education.
Originally used by Alexander Kapp (a German educator) in 1833, andragogy was developed into a theory of adult education by Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy and was popularized in the US by American educator Malcolm Knowles. Knowles asserted that andragogy (Greek: "man-leading") should be distinguished from the more commonly used pedagogy (Greek: "child-leading").
Knowles collected ideas about a theory of adult education from the end of WWII until he was introduced to the term "andragogy." In 1966, Knowles met Dusan Savicevic in Boston. Savicevic shared the term andragogy with Knowles, and explained how it was used in the European context. In 1967, Knowles made use of the term "androgogy" to explain his theory of adult education. Then, after consulting Merriam-Webster, he corrected the spelling of the term to "andragogy" and continued to make use of the term to explain his collection of ideas about adult learning.
In most countries of Europe the Knowles discussion played, at best, a marginal role. ‘Andragogy’ was, from 1970 on, connected with the in existence coming academic and professional institutions, publications, programs, triggered by a similar growth of adult education in practice and theory as in the USA. ‘Andragogy’ functioned here as a header for (places of) systematic reflections, parallel to other academic headers like ‘biology’, ‘medicine’, ‘physics’. Examples of this use of andragogy are the Yugoslavian (scholarly) journal for adult education, named ‘Andragogija’ in 1969; and the ‘Yugoslavian Society for Andragogy’; at Palacky University in Olomouc (Czech republic) in 1990 the 'Katedra sociologie an andragogiky' was established. Also Prague University has a ‘Katedra Andragogiky’; in 1993, Slovenia’s ‘Andragoski Center Republike Slovenije' was founded with the journal ‘Andragoska Spoznanja’; in 1995, Bamberg University (Germany) named a ‘Lehrstuhl Andragogik’.
On this formal level ‘above practice’ and specific approaches, the term andragogy could be used relating to all types of theories, for reflection, analysis, training, in person-oriented programs as well as human resource development.
In the field of adult education during recent decades, a process of growth and differentiation emerged as a scholarly and scientific approach, andragogy. Andragogy refers to the academic discipline(s) within university programs that focus on the education of adults; andragogy exists today worldwide. The term refers to a new type of education which was not qualified by missions and visions, but by academic learning including: reflection, critique,and historical analyses.
Dusan Savicevic, who provided Knowles with the term andragogy, explicitly claim andragogy as a discipline, the subject of which is the study of education and learning of adults in all its forms of expression’ (Savicevic, 1999, p. 97, similarly Henschke, 2003, Reischmann, 2003).
Recent research has expanded andragogy into the online world, finding that using collaborative tools like a wiki can encourage learners to become more self-directed, thereby enriching the classroom environment.
Knowles himself changed his position on whether andragogy really applied only to adults and came to believe that "pedagogy-andragogy represents a continuum ranging from teacher-directed to student-directed learning and that both approaches are appropriate with children and adults, depending on the situation." 
J.R. Kidd goes further by claiming that principles of learning have to be applied to lifelong development. He suggested that building a theory on adult learning would be meaningless, as there is no real basis for it. P. Jarvis even implies that andragogy would be more the result of an ideology than a scientific contribution to the comprehension of the learning processes.