So the other day i met up with a friend of mine from high school who just graduated from a bachelor in Business and I was telling her that my ideal classroom would be based on social constructivism, she replied with “social constructivism? that sounds like you are getting your kids to build a house together!”
and she is kind of right. to some extent anyways! Social constructivism is a theory of teaching and acquiring knowledge where students work in groups to collaboratively ‘construct’ their knowledge and understandings. It based on the work of Lev Vygotsky and is very student centered and looks at the culture of the society where the student lives in and his or her past experiences. It scaffolds and leads the students from the known (prior understandings) to the unknown (new information). A constructivist classroom uses real life problems and utilises a student’s prior knowledge and assessment is integrated throughout the lessons.
Teachers act as facilitator or guides (not as the sole instructors or experts as in traditional classrooms) and it is the teachers role to guide the students, prompting them to consistently reflect and assess any new information.
the table below has some of the differences between traditional classrooms and a constructivist classroom: (click on the image to enlarge)
the podcast below also gives a description of constructivism and how it aids students depth of knowledge and more than just that, because a constructivist classroom is student centred, it is also a fun and engaging classroom for the students. Just a note, skip the first five minutes of the podcast as the presenter just recapping previous podcasts!
Long gone are the days where students were taught to route learn, today, in our ever changing wrold, students need to be taught how to think adn how to problem solve adn collaborate with others. If you ‘spoonfeed’ students and give them the facts, they may memorise it, but they dont actual reflect on it, analyse and critise it nor are they able to apply it in a range of context. We need to be teaching students to achieve in this modern world. More over, I believe that when a student comes into the classroom, he or she is not an empty vessel for teachers to fill with information. Rather a student comes in with a wealth of experiences and understandings and as a teacher, we must build on that.
Liek wise with ICT.. ICT is developing rapidly adn we need to teach students to be the thinkers adn creators of tomorrow. This means taht we have to get students to problem solve using computers, to be creative adn to invent and to think ‘outside of the box’. We need to use real life stituations and allow students to explore the realms of information online and allow students to interact with others around the world through cyberspace.
Social constructivsm suits all types of learner, particularly those who learn by doing (kinesthetic learners) and interpersonal learners. more importantly, a constructivist classroom is one where students are encourage to explore and push the boundaries of what is known to them as they are supported and encouraged by thier teacher.
Matsumura, L.C., Slater, S.C., & Crosson, A. (2008). Classroom climate, rigorous instruction and curriculum, and students’ interactions in urban middle schools. The Elementary School Journal, 108(4), 294-312