John Wesley Meets Malcolm Knowles: Was the Class Meeting Andragogical?

From: Volume 1, Issue 3: Fall 2004 Pages 63-79

Abstract

With increased interest in small groups as a device for facilitating spiritual growth and maturity, several recent studies have reconsidered the remarkable success of John Wesley's class meeting. These studies have attempted to identify the factors that contributed to this success, variously addressing theological, historical, organizational, or educational issues. No study to date has considered specifically the question of how Wesley provided for adults as learners within the class meeting. To what degree did Wesley employ principles identified more recently as "andragogical" by Malcolm Knowles? The present study utilizes a methodology of philosophical analysis of John Wesley's class meeting against the backdrop of Malcolm Knowles's concepts of andragogy as a way of thinking about engaging adults as learners. The paper describes the principles of andragogy as developed by Knowles, and then analyzes the practices of the class meeting as formulated by Wesley against these andragogical principles. Finally, conclusions and implications are offered for contemporary small group ministry for adults.

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