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CONTEXT

 

The period after the two World Wars saw a decline in religious belief and a growing scepticism about the value of maintaining high moral standards.  The consequent shift of emphasis away from individual social responsibility (ironically hastened by such socially-responsible measures as the Welfare State) - and towards the rights of the individual - has paved the way for the rise of a Constructivist approach.  Increasing awareness of social and cultural diversity made it difficult to maintain that there was a consensual "truth" about any aspect of society.  This led to the philosophy that each individual is free to construct their own "reality". 

 

 
 

BASIS

 

Learning is viewed as the process of making meaning.  The learner, at the heart of the process, constructs their "world-view" from their experiences and their engagement with the environment (and the people within it).  Obviously, Constructivist theorists will each have their own preferred view of "reality", including those who maintain that meaning-making is primarily social rather than individual.

 

Constructivists will variously espouse (with different degrees of emphasis):

  • experiential learning

  • social contextualisation of learning

  • self-directed learning

  • creative problem-solving

  • learning to learn

  • reflective practice

In the future, the "de-institutionalisation of education" will no doubt lead to a move away from more traditional forms of teaching (where a body of knowledge was transmitted from teacher to learner) and towards more self-directed, learner-centred approaches.  It is likely that new technologies, coupled with new curriculum initiatives (such as distance-learning, e-learning, modularisation, problem-based learning, etc.) will make the learning process increasingly more individualistic.  Nevertheless, if learners are to "make their own meaning", there is no less of a role for the teacher as facilitator of that process.

 

 
 

ASSOCIATED THEORISTS

 

John Dewey (1859 - 1952)

Lev Vygotsky (1896 - 1934)

Jean Piaget (1896 - 1980)

Malcolm Knowles (1913 - 1997)

Edward de Bono (1933 - )

David Kolb (1939 - )

Howard Gardner (1943 - )