Since learning is a very significant part of life brilliant minds have made efforts in order to explain its principles and mechanisms. Throughout time many have tried to give a thorough discussion of such process. With this let’s take a step forward into the realm of constructivism.
WHAT IS CONSTRUCTIVISM
Constructivism is a theory that deals with the manner in which knowledge and meaning is obtained by human beings by utilizing their very own experiences. It is commonly confused with Seymour Papert’s Constructionism but most of what it is known at present can be attributed to Piaget’s Theory of Constructivist Learning. Piaget’s framework has had notable influence on the present day education teaching methods and reform movements.
The traditional ways of the past centuries did not pay much attention and significance to constructivist ideas mainly because of its association with children’s play. However, a Swiss philosopher and psychologist, Jean Piaget did not agree that play is not important and aimless. More so, he described it as a vital component in a student’s cognitive development and he backed this thought up with scientific evidence.
At present the theories of constructivist have been well regarded and are commonly utilized within the circles of informal learning. A very good example of an informal setting making use of constructivist views is the Investigative Center at The Natural History Museum in London. This venue allows guests to explore a series of natural history specimens and encourages them to practice scientific skills of investigation and discovery.
Constructivism suggests that individuals are able to build new knowledge based on experiences via the processes of accommodation and assimilation. During assimilation learners integrate the new experience into an existing framework without inflicting any change on the already existing framework. Individual experiences may be in alignment with the internal representations of the world. They may also be in contradiction. Nevertheless this relationship will gravely affect the willingness of the person to accept the option of change he will encounter.
On the other hand, accommodation involves a process of reorganizing a person’s mental representation of the external world in order to match it with new experiences. Better understanding of accommodation can be achieved by looking at the concept of failure leading to learning. Often times, actions are based on expectations that the world operates in a certain manner and once this expectation is not met failure sets in. By utilizing accommodation and reframing one’s outlook on how the world operates learning is achieved based on the failure that has taken place.
Constructivism also states the nature of the learner. According to social constructivism, the learner is a unique individual having individual needs and backgrounds. In addition, the learner is multidimensional and complex. More importantly social constructivists acknowledge the learner as a vital cog in the smooth flow of the learning process.
Moving further, constructivism emphasizes the significance of the learner having an active participation in the learning process. This is in contrast with the traditional principle wherein the sole responsibility lies on the instructor and the learner only plays a receptive and passive role. Learners must make it a point to engage in efforts of finding meaning and regularity in the events of the world even if they don’t possess complete information.
Another crucial aspect of the theory is the motivation involved in learning. The confidence of the learner regarding his potential in the learning process highly influences the sustenance of this motivation. The feelings of self-reliance and competence can be derived from first hand experiences of problem-solving.