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RE: making constructivism simple


Date: Sat May 18 2002 - 08:54:21 PDT

The article doesn't really say or explain much at all. Sounds impressive but the evidence isn't there. Constructivism is made almost TOO simple and our six year old is apparently NOT making a motor but a simple model of a car out of speciallly simplified lego blocks-the motor being incorporated in a yellow one.

The article reminds me how much constructivism owes to the 17th Century, Pestalozzi ("Life shapes us and the life that shapes us is not a matter of words but action.") and more recently Piaget ("I hear, I forget; I see, I remember; I do, I understand") If its been around so long how it seems like we are only now adopting it? 1 Because it won't work so long as we keep trying to implement it as THE overarching and idealstic paradigm. 2 Because it won't work until we learn to tread the fine line between lip-service to the model and blind faith. And here Jane's complaint seems justified.

Pestalozzi asks us to eschew words (mere theory) and to learn through action and experience. Can we learn constructivism by seeking a specific experience within specific actions? Constructivism is not as simple as providing the right materials in the context of the classroom and just standing back out of the way of the students. (and it HAS been implemented in this fashion all too often)

The thing most commonly over looked in Pestalozzi is the need to abandon the classroom and to go out into the world. As I recall Pestalozzi advises immersion in real world environments or experiences prior to pedagogic ones. You wanna learn geology go hang out in the mountains for a while mess with the rocks look at the layers. You wanna learn anatomy hang out with butchers and surgeons. MEDIA is not sufficient in itself!

If you can't leave the classroom you have to bring the world into it. If you want kids to learn art they have to encounter and experience the enviromennts and experiences that lead to art. They first have to discover within themselves the need to acomplish a thing THROUGH ART. (Back to our Balinese aphorism again) - or for that matter to discover why THEY need to come to school.

The test of effective constructivism is that students realize their need to go beyond it and to engage in the practices Pestalozzi actively sought to dislodge from the stranglehold they had in his own era---memorization and the accumulation of codefied knowledge (as opposed to experential constructed knowledge).

But first and foremost the kids have to find their own need to study and exchange learning amongst themselves...not merely take on an assignment.

then they are ready for next stage of the hands on experience-the one we usually try to provide.

wish I could make it shorter. Hopefully the dictionary wasn't required more than 2 or 3 times (eschew) ;-) Constructivism IS fairly simple but not in terms of e-mail.

Patricia Knott <> wrote:

>> - Learning method [Papert Project] has kids teaching themselves
>> The Des Moines Register (IA), May 17
>I guess I'm stupid
>when did art teachers not do this?
>giving hands on experience in a complicated language

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