A Shared Vision – Andragogical approach to pastoral care in boarding
“Every day when you walk back to the (boarding) house you know there’s a place where you belong” – Lord Wandsworth
Boarding staff are tasked with ensuring that the young men and women under their care develop into life-long learners with the ability to cope and thrive in an ever changing world. Many boarding houses, or the educational institutions they are associated with, try and develop these necessary skills and capabilities through a well defined pastoral care programme. A student-centred approach to pastoral care delivery needs to be governed by a set of learning goals that scaffold a pedagogical delivery of lessons throughout the year. Although this delivery method may expose boarding students to what is deemed necessary to cope and thrive in an ever changing world, it does not however, take into consideration their pervious experiences, background knowledge, personal situations and their social environment. This safe pedagogical scaffolding is transferred into the boarding environment as boarding communities engage their boarding students to become independent, self-motivated life-long learners. This direction often focuses on developing these skills and capabilities during their structured study/homework times, where boarding staff are again able to rely on safe pedagogical scaffolding of the academic curriculum to assist them in this delivery. Although these methods are tried and proven over decades of use they are not meeting the needs of the 21st Century student. Students will require the capability to effectively apply skills and competencies to new situations in an ever changing world (The World Bank, 2003; Kuit & Fell, 2010). As boarding students embrace the development of Web 2.0, cloud based collaboration, eLearning, flipped classrooms, and the use of social media, the traditional pedagogical pastoral care delivery methods of the 20th Century are no longer fully preparing students for a the digital and competitive global workforce.
The content of these aforementioned pastoral care programs is still applicable to the social, emotional and academic wellbeing of an adolescent boarding student. However, the delivery of these programmes needs to be assessed against, and adjusted to take into consideration the needs of the 21st Century student – that is Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication and Collaboration. These skills rely on the student centred approach rather than the content-orientated pedagogical approach of the 20th Century. An andragogical approach needs to be considered where the learning is more transformational and self-directed.
As a boarding student matures and reflects on their life experiences in relation to their self-perception, beliefs and lifestyle, the boarder’s perspective is adjusted and transformative learning occurs. The primary role of boarding staff should therefore be that of mentor, supporting the boarder in developing the capacity to become more self-directed in their learning. Through the use of established goals and problem solving using real world situations, staff guide students along a transformational learning pathway. This andragogical approach is underpinned by 8 skills students must have for the future (Figure 1) learning to more heutagogical practices (self-determined) to support a boarding student’s post secondary education.
Figure 1 – 8 Skills for the Future
There is a natural progression across the three approaches which allow for student to become life-long learners with the ability to cope and thrive in an ever changing world. In all cases there is an extension from one approach to the next which is determined by the student’s maturity level, involvement from staff (autonomy) and the programme structure. The matrix below outlines the progression from pedagogy to heutagogy.
Progression: Pedagogy – Andragogy – Heutagogy.
The matrix highlights the importance of cognitive development and maturity of the boarding student when assessing the introduction of an andragogical pastoral care programme. The social and emotional journey of each boarding student will be different and this will ultimately affect, and be reflected in their cognitive development and maturity. Therefore a boarding student may enter this style of pastoral care programme at any stage, as it is not necessarily determined by their age or grade level. However, it does stand to reason that boarding students in the later years of their secondary education would be more suited to this style of programme. Given these parameters, staff training and their ability to dedicate the necessary time in mentoring boarding students is an important consideration should a boarding community wish to commence this type of programme.
As I research andragogical practice further and begin to develop a sustainable model for staff training, the unique role of a boarding staff member as loco parentis becomes more apparent. The guidance, support, and feedback given by the boarding student’s primary pastoral carer is fundamental in ensuring the students mental and physical wellbeing. This sustained state of wellbeing further enhances their ability to learn effectively and their connectedness with their boarding and school community. I am excited by the opportunities this programme represents in developing a shared vision for pastoral care and wellbeing within any boarding community and assisting boarding students develop into lifelong learners equipped for the 21st Century.
 These 4 C’s are also mentioned in the ISTE Standard for Digital Citizenship