X-Factor Pedagogies Versus Anarchogogy

Something has been troubling me of late.


after listening to Peter Shukie’s (@ShukieOne) keynote today on Pop, Folk and Punk, at the JISC RSC HE eLearning Conference 2013 I think I may have hit the nail on the head as to why. After all my extensive research into the plethora of learning theories, frameworks, and pedagogic models out there I think I am quite overwhelmed and I wonder to myself, how can these pedagogies help educators at the coal face, struggling with the practical demands of engaging learners; and maintaining retention, achievement, and assessment rates that formal education values so highly? So many to choose from, all enticing with eat me, drink me written on the label. Like Alice in Wonderland we try what we think might be the best option to unlock the potential of what is on the other side of the door and like Alice we often make mistakes and have to try another remedy.


So back to my troubles.

Is there a pedagogic remedy that really works and which one do I choose? Do I focus my efforts on building pedagogic practices on the foundations of connectivism, constructionism, rhizomatic learning, social constructivism, self-organised learning, reflective learning, problem-based learning, etc and which model should I choose; Communities of Practice, Salmon’s 5 Stage Model, Bloom’s Taxonomy (revisited), the Flipped Classroom pedagogy, the Contributing Learner Model, the MOOC Model, the Digital Practitioner Framework (Bennett, 2012)?

Education is agog with x-gogies.

And then Mr Shukie comes along today, a self-confessed idealist, and talks about anarchogogy and yin and yang and I think he may have the answer. To put this into context his presentation set out to explore “Punk, Folk and Pop as concepts from which educators can make choices based on their own ideological and philosophical preferences,” (Shukie, 2013).This struck a chord with me (excuse the pun). He uses the analogy of the homogenisation of music which is regurgitated in the T.V show, the X-Factor, and warns of a “similar peril” for eduction in the form of a “boiled down, grey pedagogy draped in the rhetoric of functional skills and consumerist ideology“.

We cannot pick a pedagogy off the shelf and expect it to work because it looks like a quick fix or others tell us it is a bargain so we should try it. No, we are all indviduals with different experiences, values, belief systems. Each lesson we ever teach to any group of learners will always be unique. Therefore we have to use a mishmash of different pedagogies, experiment with them, challenge them, ask our learners what they think about them and accept that if they fail we reflect on why and simply move on having learning from this experience. I know this sounds like the cliche “one size doesn’t fit all” argument but it is more than that. To quote Shukie directly, he wants to “encourage the inclusion of ourselves, our philosophies and ideologies and the diversity of our practices as ways to shape (sic)  the environment in which we teach and learn“. I found this resonates with my own understanding of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). We are who we are because of our own personal experiences which shape our belief systems and values which in turn inform our choices. Whether we have a dystopian or utopian view of technology, or straddle the fence, will depend on who we are and what we have experienced in life. I think our attitudes towards change, with our without technology, depends on the recipes we have used in life.

I particularly liked Shukie’s concept of Edu-punk and anarchogogy which “operates in a non-hierarchical, user generated, open environment” but perhaps this is because I have been exploring the kind of chaotic and nomadic style of rhizomatic learning which, in its nature, is quite MOOCish. A free, online course with 30,000 enrolled participants is going to be chaotic. I am definitely a nomad on a journey except I am not making good sense of the compass and map provided so I am carving my own path. Yes, I like Edu-punk.

Another note that chimed well with my present thinking was Shukie’s metaphor of Yin and Yang which reminded of the holistic approach to education that many of us aspire to.

Ying Yang

The Yin was a nod in the direction of collaborative, participatory learning whilst the Yang was a metaphor for the locus of control being held by the institution and the curriculum. This reminded me of Collis and Moonen’s adaption of Sfard’s metaphors of learning as acquisition (yang) and participation (yin). I suggest, at least at this early stage in 21st century learning, that we need to assimilate both into our teaching.

Two metaphors of Learning

So the enlightenment for me today is that it is OK to question existing pedagogies for teaching and learning. As individuals we can adopt a mishmash of different gogies and experiment with them to find out what works best for our learners within our particular context. X-Factor pedagogies need to be challenged.

However, there is something in common with whichever approach we take, one rhythmic beat which we all tap our foot to; whether Pop, Punk, Folk, or a heady combination of them all. As educators and practitioners we still need to reflect, for if we don’t reflect on our teaching and learning experiences how can we know what is working well and what isn’t? Reflection enables us to dig deeper, to prod, probe, and scrutinize and then adapt to the situation at hand as our first impressions of any pedagogic model may not be right for our particular context.

On my return home today my little boy showed me a trick and it seemed to sum up a day full of curiousity and intrigue. All is not what it seems.

I’ll take a recipe of moocishness with a good dose or participatory, active and reflective learning with just a spoonful of anarchogogy for added zestiness.


Bennett, E.J. (2012) Learning from the early adopters: Web 2.0 tools, pedagogic
practices and the development of the digital practitioner (n.p)

Shukie, P. (2013) – Pop, Folk and Punk – how technology defines approaches to learning, teaching and life. Paper presented at the 2013 E-Learning in HE Conference.

3 thoughts on “X-Factor Pedagogies Versus Anarchogogy

  1. Hi Beth, great post. So ‘chaotic and nomadic rhizomatic learning’ is the cause of the strange feelings I’ve been having recently! I like what you have to say about ‘gogies’ and reflections

  2. Strange feelings? Yep, this is called “learning”. I spoke to a colleague the other day who said she didn’t want to impose conditions of learning onto her students (for example, making them use social media) if it makes them feel uncomfortable. I nodded in agreement but then I thought to myself, should learning be comfortable? If we don’t push the boundaries and venture into the unknown then how can we learn from new experiences? So strange feelings are good.

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