Constructivism Defined? 
Author Message
 Constructivism Defined?

In a curriculum development course I started the other day the professor
mentioned we'd be looking into "constructivism, a process we teachers (the
students in the course) may not be familiar with."

Our textbook refers to constructivism as being basically an inductive
process, building big ideas out of small ideas. We will doubtlessly go into
this in greater detail, but this definition seems to fall short based on
what I've learned reading Papert and the contributions to this list over the
years.

I hope some of you who have thought about this far longer than I will care
to comment. What else is embraced within the concept of constructivism? Do
you see it as basically equivalent to inductive learning? What are its
roots? Where do you see it going?

Thanks,

Tom

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Sun, 14 Dec 2003 03:09:56 GMT  
 Constructivism Defined?

Quote:

>Our textbook refers to constructivism as being basically an inductive
>process, building big ideas out of small ideas.

That's not so very wrong, imho.  But the emphasis should be on the fact that
it's the *learner* who's doing the building, rather than the teacher or the
curriculum designer.

The rich set of teaching practices that we associate with the name
"constructivism" are basically a response to this psychological fact.  If
knowledge is constructed by the learner (rather than poured in by the teacher)
then there are implications for classroom practice -- you have to do things
that promote a lot of sound building by the kids.

But there isn't just one kind of teaching practice compatible with
constructivism.  In particular, constructivism doesn't imply *constructionism*,
in which kids literally construct physical artifacts.  It doesn't imply using
computers, or individual projects -- all of those are good constructivist
techniques, but so is giving the class something to read that's a little
beyond their previous understanding and then leading a discussion in which
the kids try to work out what the author is saying, and why.

Really the only thing it rules out is the teacher standing in front of the
room telling kids facts. (And even that's allowed if it comes at the right
point in an ongoing constructivist effort!  Sometimes the kids can't build
mental models without some bricks and mortar to work with.)  Constructivism
does favor the kind of classroom plan that allows for different kids to be
at different cognitive places, though.

But all of those are footnotes, not the central definition.  I'd quibble with
the precise wording you gave, in that "out of small ideas" suggests a neat
hierarchical structure in the brain.  The way Piaget says it, the new ideas
are more built out of *gaps* in the existing structure than out of *atoms* in
the existing structure.  You come across a question you can't answer, and so
you build new ideas to answer it.  If you're lucky, you find a new idea out
in the world that exactly fits in the gap (assimilation); if you're less
lucky, it turns out that the new question forces you to reevaluate ideas that
were already in your head (accommodation).



Sun, 14 Dec 2003 21:23:05 GMT  
 Constructivism Defined?
Hi Tom,

        Give me a week or so.  I'll post up a de-brief of my current class
format
in Logo/Lego.  It's going to be good enough as a "proof of concept".  What I
need is a few more sessions to complete more prep work and test, test, test,
try, try, try...
        BTW, Bob, remember that comment you made about the kids needing
Dramamime?
Guess what,... they really didn't need it.  And if I can come up with a
better demo which they can lead off on, then no kid will need Dramanine at
all!!
        If I can create the tools for them to search for examples and
online and
written help guides, then I think they ought to pretty much teach themselves
some basic Logo.  Maybe they'll even teach themselves all of it.  And, I
don't think it's what I know ... it's what I don't know and how I bricolage
in front of class.  I thought my pride just got in the way of my learning
.. seems it also gets in the way of teaching.
        Tonight, I plan to set-up another yahoogroups just for my students
to ask
Logo/Lego related questions.  I thought that would be a better venue than
socking this forum with tons of neophyte questions.  Want an invite to join
in?

:-)  edwin

Quote:
-----Original Message-----

Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2001 8:05 AM

What else is embraced within the concept of constructivism? Do
you see it as basically equivalent to inductive learning? What are its
roots? Where do you see it going?

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Mon, 15 Dec 2003 12:33:31 GMT  
 Constructivism Defined?
     There is a little appreciated distinction between kinds of
constructivism.  Constructivism (the V word) states that children (and
probably {*filter*}s) build their knowledge one step at a time based upon their
experiences.  There is also something called Constructionism (the N word)
which holds that the building of knowledge is especially facilitated when
the student builds an external, three-dimensional, physical, actual object
such as a model, novel, musical score, etc.  Your class is probably
teaching construcivism (the V word).

In a curriculum development course I started the other day the professor
mentioned we'd be looking into "constructivism, a process we teachers (the
students in the course) may not be familiar with."

Our textbook refers to constructivism as being basically an inductive
process, building big ideas out of small ideas. We will doubtlessly go into
this in greater detail, but this definition seems to fall short based on
what I've learned reading Papert and the contributions to this list over the
years.

I hope some of you who have thought about this far longer than I will care
to comment. What else is embraced within the concept of constructivism? Do
you see it as basically equivalent to inductive learning? What are its
roots? Where do you see it going?

Thanks,

Tom

To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

LogoForum messages are archived at:
http://www.*-*-*.com/

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To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

LogoForum messages are archived at:
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Tue, 16 Dec 2003 07:08:25 GMT  
 
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