Chasing the constructivist rainbow

Filling the pail

Many teachers start their careers with the idea that implicit forms of instruction are somehow better than simply explaining things to students. This probably originates in teacher training institutions with their focus on ‘theory‘ and attachment to falsified ideas such as Piaget’s stage theories. It seems that these ideas are often presented as essentially true. Maybe they are dressed-up in the scientific-sounding theory of constructivism or maybe they are advanced with an appeal to social justice.

From my experience arguing with those who continue to promote constructivist views, I think I have identified a number of stages in the argument. The evidence for constructivism appears to lie at the end of a rainbow; it recedes as you approach it.

Stage 1: Constructivism leads to better learning of facts and skills

This is a fairly naive view but many people start off with it. Constructivism is simply…

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