Learning With Lucie Archive 2006-2013

April 17, 2006

Constructivism

Filed under: Education — Learning with Lucie @ 10:01 pm

This entry was originally posted as part of Lucie’s VTCITE blog

Constructivism –
As a first year teacher in a public school in Vermont, I was a little nervous about being evaluated by an official school administrator. Back then they didn’t schedule a pre-evaluation conference or even tell you when they were coming. I vividly remember the ONE LINE evaluation I got when my principal walked into my “consumer math’ class clipboard in hand. He looked around for a few minutes, and finally spotted me circulating amongst groups of students working in collaborative groups. He acknowledged me politely and said “I’ll come back when you’re teaching”.

My constructivist teaching style was too much a part of my essence to change the learning environment I had created based on that feedback. I listened to my heart and have enjoyed years of learning WITH my students. The past five years, I
fought the pressure in Career and Technical Education to move towards what Taylor (1996) calls “The rationalist myth of cold reason – where knowledge is seen as discovery of an external truth. This can lead to the picture of the teacher in a central role as transmitter of objective truths to students. This philosophy does not promote clarifying relevance to the lives of students, but instead promotes a curriculum to be delivered.”

Industry Certification has become a driving force in Technical Education. So much so, that project based learning is being taken out of the curriculum to make room for Industry curriculums that prepare students to pass industry certification exams. I would have nothing against these exams if they were used as an assessment of skills and knowledge gained by a student “constructing” an indepth understanding of the software while working on projects that applied technology skills to solve authentic (or even simulated) problems. But instead I see TEST simulation software being installed in schools and students working through the drills that increase their speed and proficiency on test items. AARGH!!!

I was too much of a constructivist to succumb, and did everything I could to fight this trend in my classroom. It wasn’t until recently reading more formal literature on constructivism that I recognize descriptions of a learning environment that very much resembled my classroom over the past 20 years. Here are a few quotes from this week’s reading that reinforced to me that, indeed, I am a constructivist teacher.

In essence, the teacher must strive to create an atmosphere based on trust and respect and
must act as a co-learner with the student.


active and passive” space—
places where students can reflect and retreat from others to work quietly and intrapersonally, as well as places for active engagement and interpersonal learning.

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