Coaching can be applied to different needs, e.g. skills or change of behaviors; elevate performance and overcoming obstacles; personal development and effectiveness in life coaching (Segers et all, 2011).
In my opinion, in skills and performance coaching, a mixture of coaching and mentorship, where the coach comes with specific knowledge and offer guidance, would be more effective.
In the case of life (personal) coaching, the approach is most likely to be built on Knowles' Andragogy, an adult learning philosophy, which has been much debated over the decades.
Most coaches are not experts in the field of adult learning or education and therefore rely on prescribed competencies in their coaching approach.
While coaching is a very impactful approach for reflection, and reflection cements learning, it is not a one size fits all solution and must be used in combination with other approaches, depending on the client situation, which most coaches are doing today.
These coaching belief and concepts are likely to have drawn from the Andragogy Theory popularised by Malcolm Shepherd Knowles (1913 – 1997) in 1970. Knowles is a leading American educator from America, who has built upon the Androgogy concept:
"....first authored by Alexander Kapp (1833), a German high school teacher, who put forth his ideas that patterns in andragogy encompassed the inner, subjective personality, and outer, objective competencies, that learning happens not only through teachers, but also through self-reflection and life experience, which makes it more than teaching adults.
Andragogy was asserted as education at the man’s age including self-reflection, and educating the character. The primary premise of this theory argues that adults learn differently from children because adults are self-directing (takes initiatives) in learning, whereas children are not."
It is worth knowing that similar to many theories, Knowles' Androgogy Theory has been much debated over the decades, one of the criticisms being the lack of empirical evidences.
Theories, are not facts. Rather, it is a concept constructed with assumptions. Over time, Knowles and colleagues from the field has been updating the assumptions over time through continuous research and debate.
What has happened here, in my opinion, there is an over application of Knowles' Androgogy assumptions by the coaching community due to a lack of understanding and updating.
One of the later research actually acknowledges that both guided learning and self-directed learning could have a meeting point, i.e. whether the learner is adult or children, guided learning is necessary when the content is new to the learner.
Coaching is a very impactful approach for reflection, and reflection cements learning. However, coaching is one of the many adult learning and development tools, it is not a one size fits all solution and must be used in combination with other approaches, depending on the client situation.
For those who are interested to know more about Knowles' Andragogy, please read on....
Knowles' 5 Assumptions Of Adult Learners, here they are:
As a person matures his/her self concept moves from one of being a dependent personality toward one of being a self-directed human being.
- Adult Learner Experience
As a person matures he/she accumulates a growing reservoir of experience that becomes an increasing resource for learning.
- Readiness to Learn
As a person matures his/her readiness to learn becomes oriented increasingly to the developmental tasks of his/her social roles.
- Orientation to Learning
As a person matures his/her time perspective changes from one of postponed application of knowledge to immediacy of application. As a result his/her orientation toward learning shifts from one of subject- centeredness to one of problem centeredness.
- Motivation to Learn
As a person matures the motivation to learn is internal (Knowles 1984:12).
Based on the above five assumptions, Knowles suggested 4 Principles of Andragogy to adult learning in 1984:
- Adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction.
- Experience (including mistakes) provides the basis for the learning activities.
- Adults are most interested in learning subjects that have immediate relevance and impact to their job or personal life.
- Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented. (Kearsley, 2010)