Constructivism springs eternal

I said Ken De Rosa of D-Ed Reckoning would write more on why constructivism doesn’t work. He has. See part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.

Natalie Solent looks at reasons why constructivism (aka “discovery, experiential, problem-based or inquiry learning” ) remains popular despite lack of results. She thinks people who were good at school are generalizing from their own ah-hah! experiences, forgetting the non-ah-hah! moments and flattering themselves that they figured things out without help. Also, she says, “they don’t want to look bossy.”

But they’re plenty bossy when they teach prospective teachers, writes Tin Drummer.

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  1. I’ve got a somewhat less generous take on the attraction of discovery learning (along with more then a few other edu-fads) and that’s that it is inherently unobjectifiable. The nature of discovery learning makes objective measures of efficacy of both the technique and the practitioner difficult. There’s a big plus.

    I’m not saying that this attraction is necessarily overt, that teachers, administrators and school board members sit around finding the least measurable technique but that any technique or school of thought that reduces the objectively measurable component of education automatically looks pretty good.

    It also appeals to various conceits.

    The presumption that structure equals authoritarianism and lack of structure equals freedom, the conceit being that reducing structure in learning is striking a blow for freedom. The conceit of modernity. The conceit of intellectual superiority.

    I just read Natalie Solent’s Reasons For Using Discovery Learning. We overlap on the zeroth reason but not on any of the others.

    Reasons 1,2 and 3a all refer to the teacher’s experience or at least the technique’s promulgators experience. The underlying assumption being that what was good for the goose will be good for the gander.

    Reason 3b is so obviously true that it hardly requires comment but we have some overlap on 3b as well.