The Constructivist Approach to Teaching

Recently, I have subtly introduced a perforated silence here on Books ‘n’ Nooks and not so much as intentionally as I would like. The reason is more the commonplace cross of our current world where we are afflicted with a “lack of time”.

Either way, I would like to briefly touch upon an important concept I have become very interested in, and one that I believe seeks to inform and consequently, improve, teaching.

Constructivism can be defined in many ways. One may use the Latin origin to break it down into meaning-inducing fragments of the whole, or one might simply elucidate on the notions that spring into consciousness on mention of the word.

Think for a moment what meaning you might derive from “Constructivism” (Yes, this is the teacher in me calling into action inquiry-based learning).

Constructivism is a way to teach whereby students are allowed agency over their own learning; they are given the opportunity to direct their learning by building new experiences, while simultaneously drawing on their past ones. A teacher’s role in all of this still remains crucial, because unlike the cut-and-dry approach of student-centered learning, the value of an expert, namely the teacher, is honoured. Teachers are tasked with “guiding” the student’s knowledge by providing opportunities for students to discover their worlds and make and build on their own experiences. They are to help students develop and hone their problem-solving, inferencing, critical-thinking and meaning-making skills to achieve a cohesive framework for how to learn.

Students become active and motivated participants in their learning and the teachers act as their guides through this process, functioning as the Yodas of a student’s life.

Now, I could elaborate and confuse you with more complex interpretations of Constructivism, and punctuate this blog heavily with academic jargon, but everyone knows that as teachers, we always appreciate the most accessible methods of learning. So, think of Constructivism as the work of a Scientist or an Artist or a Pioneer. There is a lot of theory, a lot of testing and finally a conclusion, an understanding for how it works. And in the end, isn’t that the crux of life?


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