A Critical Review of Reflectivity, Andragogy, and Confucianism

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

Handbook of Research on Teaching and Learning in K-20 Education


The link between Confucian humanism, Mezirow’s theory of reflectivity, and the convergence of a worldwide concept of andragogy (the art and science of helping adults learn) articulated by Savicevic, Knowles, Mezirow, Henschke, and Cooper is explicit. While Confucian humanism emphasizes inner experience, Mezirow’s theory has increasingly developed to integrate inner reflection expressed through transformed perspectives and decision and action, and andragogy has focused on facilitation of collaborative interaction and self-direction in learning involving the whole person. To appreciate the basis of these three schools of theory, this chapter presents a discussion of these originating theorists. As an introductory thought, the following quotations illustrate how Confucius’ thought has long been valued and aspired to in the pursuit of reflection and wisdom. Rather than the routine or inattentive action that tends to dominate our lives in the 21st century, this widespread 2000 year-old Eastern philosophy and tradition has been synonymous with questioning the meanings and assumptions of one’s surroundings and values. In addition to advancing our understanding of transformative learning, andragogy, and an integrated model of reflective thought, the authors hope this chapter will stir further international research in reflective learning and the intersections of Eastern philosophies with Western traditions and philosophies, as well as those that bridge both traditions. Worldwide, there are many rich traditions; if our understanding of teaching and learning can build upon our understanding of one another, we can open new doors for appreciation, insight, interaction, and inquiry.



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