[Squeakland] Panel discussion: Can the American Mind be Opened?

David Corking lists at dcorking.com
Wed Nov 21 09:32:37 PST 2007

Mark wrote:

> Re: attempts with constructivism
> I hope you're right. I have heard criticisms of constructivism, based on
> anecdotes, but I've always wondered whether what's been evaluated is
> actually constructivism or just some group's ideological interpretation of
> it (the group that says they're implementing the pedagogy, that is). I
> haven't studied it in detail, but the ideas behind it, as presented by Kay,
> make sense to me.

I think it is worth studying in detail, but I am not sure where to
start.  First I think we need to learn to distinguish among

1. constructivism the psychological hypothesis - as proposed by Piaget
as I understand
2. constructivism the pedagogy
3. constructionism - another pedagogy - and a word coined by Seymour
Papert.  Note the 3rd syllable.

(There is also constructivism the epistemology, which I can't even
spell, that also originates with Piaget.)

I recently read this unsympathetic 2003 article on the US history of
constructivist pedagogy in maths
But it is largely anecdotal (which is fine for a historian, but not
when we are responsible for the education of the next generation.)

However, beyond such material, I get thoroughly confused by an
inability to distinguish proven knowledge, accepted wisdom, and pure
pseudo-science.    It seems that a lot of educational research is done
by anecdote rather than by controlled blind large group studies.  Any
pointers to the good stuff?  Or tips to help a natural scientist to
understand the research methods of the social sciences?

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