Publish at November 15 2022 Updated November 15 2022

Foundations of the learning sciences

From the science of teaching to the art of learning

Possible universe

"But one must learn to live throughout one's life, and, what will amaze you more, one must, throughout one's life, learn to die."


Always the freedom to learn

My companion takes a drawing class and produces a work full of color and energy that comes from within her world. Her art teacher leaves her completely free to go where she wants and be inspired, to create absolutely as she wishes. Do we so often have such authorizations? What if art teachers had secrets that few pedagogues master?


According to Le Robert dictionary, "Pedagogy"  is said to be a word of Greek origin traced in 1495. The word is a huge success so many adjectives can be attached to it. Pedagogies, since we must resolve to name them in the plural, would be: active, technological, socialized, traditional, negative, libertarian, scholastic, Soviet, project-based, active, group-based, socio-constructivist, goal-based, archetypal, programmed, documentary, explicit, institutional, differentiated, problem-solving, mental management, spiral, cooperative, challenging, decisional, outward-looking, Internet.

When a discipline is so varied in its forms and styles, one can posit that there are rather pedagogues than ways of doing things that emphasize one or more dimensions of the learning situation. Some pedagogues have even left their name to designate their practices, such as Montessori or Steiner-Waldorf, to take just two famous examples. There are hardly any learners who have left their names to pedagogies, which argues for a tropism of pedagogy as a science of teaching.


The composition of the word andragogy combines andros (the man) and agogos (the guide). It took more than 6 centuries to compose this neologism that emphasizes the specifics of adult learning. It is to German educator Alexander Kapp that the term is said to be indebted. Then it would be taken up or reinvented by Malcolm Knowless in the 1970s to underpin a science of adult education.

Andragogy is characteristic of adulthood and obeys principles of involving learners in their own learning, and this from the expression of purpose, the role of experience and in particular the integration of the trial-and-error cycle, the need to have an immediate effect on one's own reality, the focus on concrete problems and the processes for apprehending them rather than on abstract content.

If andragogy opens us to the specificity of the adult world it is important to remember that adults rarely go it alone and are above all social beings, learning from each other, through imitation, modeling or a variety of interactions. It then makes sense to focus on what happens in groups between humans.


Pairagogy  refers to specific pedagogical situations of learning between peers. The peer is understood as one who conducts activities similar to one's own. If the practice is old, the conceptualization would be marked in1982 by the proposals contained in a guide by Rheingold. Then explored in Europe with a sustained effort to understand learning communities or ways of learning to learn together.

Learning among peers presupposes a co-legitimization so that each person's word is recognized as being able to bring to the other something he or she does not perceive or understand. The peer, because he lives a similar situation is able to get closer to his own experience by living it from the inside, a bit like the way the holders of the same disease are able to understand each other finely because they feel the same symptoms, have to face the same ordeals and find from the inside to find some comfort what a doctor will not be able to prescribe.


While pairagogy ultimately refers to the complements that two learners bring to each other, heutagogy further explores the internal determinants. The heutagogy  is defined as the study of self-determined learning. It places itself resolutely on the side of the learner not as the object of a pedagogical technique that is external and sometimes incomprehensible to him or her, but as a subject shaping his or her own experience.

The expression is thus related with the concept of apprenticeship, which places the learner at the heart of the learning process. Learning being a posture favorable to the act of learning. 

That which guides us

Returning to the phrase "that which guides us" agogos, we see that we are still looking for a force that embarks us in our learning. If pedagogy gives us a glimpse of a pedagogue who holds us by the hand on the path of knowledge, if andragogical guidance emphasizes human experience, both practical and very concrete, and if pairagogy reminds us of the social dimension of the human fact. Finally, heutagogy prepares minds for the forms of learning chosen by the individuals themselves. Each of these forms of guidance brings with it its share of practical considerations about the techniques to be mobilized, the methods to be favored, the posture of the guide and the principles to be followed.

For my part, I postulate that what guides us participates in a larger living flow that runs through us and is composed of a multitude of experiences (our masters, our place as an adult, our peers or our own choices), and to this should be added the nature that we more or less integrate.

To designate this flow, I imagine that it leaves a trace in our body as well as in our mind. A thin film that changes to integrate new experiences. I like to invent the word "experium" as a tribute to the growth of trees that have "cambium" (from the Latin cambiare changer), this tissue that grows inside and pushes the bark outwards. As long as the cambium is alive, the sap flows and the tree maintains and thrives. The same metaphor applies to humans, as long as the "experium" occurs, the experience is not in vain, it circulates, it is interpreted, it produces useful stories to act, it is aggregated to schemas and it produces adaptation processes. As soon as the experium freezes on certainties, dries up, and no longer plays its role of creating matter to grow from within, then the adaptation process weakens.

Aside from the pedagogical/andragogical/pairagogical/heutagogical forms currently valued, it seems to me urgent that we be guided by the living and not only by considerations of human scale. This guidance remains to be invented. It will probably be able to help us deal with the changes that are coming.



M. Knowles, 1970, "The modern practice of adult education: Andragogy versus pedagogy," Associated Press, New York


Thot cursus - Pairagogy promising fruit of the co

Practical Guide to "Pairagogy" - Christine Vaufrey - Thot Cursus 

Bloghoptoys - Pedagogy, andragogy, heuragogy what are we talking about? 

S. HASE, C. KENYON. Moving from andragogy to heutagogy; implications for VET. January 2001.

L. M. BLASCHKE, S. HASE. Heutagogy and digital media networks: Setting students on the path to lifelong learning. Pacific Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning. 2019.

Cristol, D. (2017). Learning communities: learning together. Knowledge, 43, 10-55.

Challenge pedagogyédagogie%20des%20défis.pdf  

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