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Food for Thought

K. Patricia Cross (1981, p. 227-228) when lucidly and objectively discussing Knowles' theory of andragogy states, "Whether andragogy can serve as the foundation for a unifying theory of adult education remains to be seen. At the very least, it identifies some characteristics of adult learning that deserve attention. It has been far more successful than most theory in getting the attention of practitioners, and it has been moderately successful, however, in stimulating research to test the assumptions. Most, important, perhaps, the visibility of andragogy has heightened awareness of the need for answers to three major questions:

(1) Is it useful to distinguish the learning needs of adults from those of children? If so, are we talking about dichotomous differences or continuous differences? Or both?

(2) What are we really seeking: Theories of learning? Theories of teaching? Both?

(3) Do we have, or can we develop, an initial framework on which successive generations of scholars can build? Does andragogy lead to researchable questions that will advance knowledge in adult education?"


Cross, K.P. (1981). Adults as Learners: Increasing participation and facilitating learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.