Constructivism: The Learning Theory Where Perspective is Everything!
One of my favorite games to play in the classroom is called "Which one of these is not like the others". I gleaned it from my childhood experiences of watching Sesame Street, and my students enjoy it just as much as I do. The reason I enjoy it so much is because out of the four items displayed, every single one of them could qualify as "not like the others" based on personal background knowledge and perspective of the student. For instance, out of the numbers 3, 6, 7, and 15, justify which number does not belong. Are you going to pick the 2-digit number, the even number, prime? When someone views a scene from different vantage points, the reality of what is taking place varies. Truth and learning, for the most part, are based upon beliefs, prior knowledge, and perspective. Constructivism is the learning theory in which I relate to most. This theory states that knowledge is subjective, comprehension is determinate upon reflection, and reality is based upon personal perceptions acquired by collaborating and other forms of social interaction (Bates, A., 2015). In this realm of learning, teachers serve as facilitators, personal ideas and hypotheses relevant to the life of the learner are experimented upon, and communities of students exist as self-organized learning environments (SOLE) that foster a love of learning (Mitra, S., 2013). It is human nature to want to learn how to learn. We all begin as very small humans with the desire to absorb as much information as our brains can muster. We make inquiries, assimilate information, test theories, and develop personal beliefs about education with passion and fury as tiny beings. What happens to squelch our desire? I believe that it is traditional learning theories such as Objectivism and Behaviorism that stifle the possibilities of meaningful learning experiences with rote memorization and multiple choice.
In the beginning, we all love to learn, and our early childhood teachers were sure to foster that love of learning every chance they could get. As we grew, our self-interests were served less and less, and we were forced to become a cog in a machine, suffocated by industrial-age methods in a technology-aged world. We learned how to read, write, and calculate as a process or means to an end instead of being allowed to explore our own interests and curiosities through research and product development. Our educational growth becomes stunted as we go through the motions of traditional Behaviorism school frameworks with teacher-centered instruction and stand-and-deliver lectures. When did learning lose its spark for you? Can we fix our broken education system? Yes!
If Sugata Mitra can put a computer in a hole in the wall and get thousands of children to actively engage in learning via a Contructivism approach, then we can create a love of learning through collaboration and communication via technology and Constructivism (Mitra, S., 2013)! I have always been a kinesthetic/visual learner that has to create a personally-relevant product that I can apply to my every-day life. Learning should be a customized experience that is constantly scaffolding on previous experiences, is synthesized, reflected upon, and shaped into new thoughts and beliefs. Granted, in the classroom this would look unorganized with groups of students networking, bouncing ideas off of each other, and challenging each others thinking. A noisy classroom? With students talking and loitering? Be careful, they might start having fun learning! Check out this TedTalk and then challenge my thought... Constructivism works: prove me wrong.
Bates, A.W. (2015) Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning (Chapters 1 & 2).
Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/
Sugata, M. (2013). Build a School in the Cloud. Retrieved January 21, 2021, from Ted.com