“John Dewey,” who’s studying to become a math teacher, wonders if anyone can find teachers actually using constructivist ideas in the classroom. He quotes Jay Mathews of the Washington Post, who states:
â€œI have yet to observe a teacher who is not putting considerable emphasis on specific information and skills â€¦ If you know of a study that shows that Deweyâ€™s principles are actually practiced in any serious way in many American classrooms, I would like to see it, because it conflicts with what I have found.â€
All the students in the modern Dewey’s math education class observed math classes that “were traditional desks-in-a-row, teacher-at-the-board in front, and lessons derived from the textbook.”
Mr. NCTM (the professor) was disappointed. So was our one and only future constructivist of the class. Like others in the class, he teaches under a provisional license. Not only did he not see any constructivist-type lessons, he did not have the time to conduct any such inquiry-based lessons in his own classes. â€œI keep thinking that there are more things I can do to make math interesting for my students,â€ he said sadly. â€œI think I should talk to other teachers and get some constructivist lessons going by collaborating. But at the end of the day, Iâ€™m so exhausted I canâ€™t think about collaborating. In fact, I donâ€™t want to talk to anyone.â€ This left him no choice, he lamented, but â€œto resort to the text book.â€
Dewey suspects constructivism is used in the early grades but is dropped by high school. What’s your experience, teachers and parents?
Also, read this Instructivist post on ed school classes that promise to give future math and science teachers “familiarity with the conceptual understanding and skills necessary for teaching in a manner that promotes the inclusion of all pupils.”
Constructivism, the History and Philosophy of Science, and Technology and Society comprise three strands that further the aim of democratic teaching as applied to mathematics and science.
Instructivist predicts the “democratic” discovery-based environment will exclude “students who need special attention and explicit instruction.”