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ERIC Number: EJ826556
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 20
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 37
ISSN: ISSN-0013-1946
Toward a Pragmatic Discourse of Constructivism: Reflections on Lessons from Practice
Gordon, Mordechai
Educational Studies: Journal of the American Educational Studies Association, v45 n1 p39-58 Jan 2009
In the past few decades, a constructivist discourse has emerged as a very powerful model for explaining how knowledge is produced in the world, as well as how students learn. Constructivists believe that what is deemed knowledge is always informed by a particular perspective and shaped by various implicit value judgments. However, there is an enormous body of work in education on constructivism that tends to be fragmented and uncritical. One of the serious problems with the fragmented and incoherent character of the literature on constructivism, as Davis and Sumara (2002, 410) point out, is that it opens itself to the charge that it is a kind of "anything goes" relativist discourse. The lack of clarity about what it means to be a constructivist or some shared understanding of the major tenets of this theory have contributed to a growing number of misleading critiques of this worldview. What researchers need, then, is a clearer and more coherent notion of constructivism that is not merely a set of abstract ideas about knowledge and human existence, but is pragmatic and grounded in good teaching practices. In this article, the author attempts to develop a pragmatic discourse of constructivism, one that is prescriptive and that takes seriously the lessons one can learn about this theory from some good examples of constructivist teaching. Unlike most conceptual examinations of constructivism that have attempted to present new interpretations of this theory and then speculated on the practical implications of this new vision, here the author takes a very different approach. He begins his analysis by examining some of the main reasons that account for the fact that constructivist discourses have not had a bigger impact on educational practice. Next, he discusses a number of successful examples of constructivist teaching in different contexts. In the final part of this article, the author begins to lay out a pragmatic conception of constructivism, which is informed by the lessons that can be gleaned from good teaching, as well as by the insights of Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky and Freire. (Contains 6 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A