Teaching for Construction of Knowledge
Have you heard of the constructivism theory, or heard people talk about it. The term “constructivism” is widely used by educationists and is also advocated strongly. Is it one of the many learning theories that read well on paper and appear challenging to implement, or is it something that can be easily implemented?
Let’s first understand what the theory of “constructivism” means.
In simple words, the constructivism theory believes that new knowledge can be constructed from our own experiences and from what we already know. This means that instead of giving information to students, we must ask questions and lead them in the direction of finding the answer.
Practicing constructive teaching is not difficult and does not require you to undergo training to learn a new methodology. All it needs is a conscious change in how we approach a question.
When children ask us a question, our first and only reaction is to give them the answer. But what if we do not give the answer straight away, and instead ask them a question and through more questioning we lead them to arrive at the answer? Is that possible?
One morning, my 4 year old daughter asked me why our house had rooms. My first reaction was to explain to her why, but I stopped myself and instead I asked her a question.
I asked her to name the rooms in the house. She replied, drawing room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. Then I asked her to list the activities we do in each room. After that I asked her to imagine that the house was one large room, and we would have to cook in one corner, bathe in another corner, eat and watch TV in one corner and sleep in the same place too – would we be comfortable doing that? She replied “no”. Then I asked her why it would not be comfortable. Finally I asked her what we could do to live more comfortably, and she replied that if we did different activities in different rooms that would make living comfortable.
She looked at me and smiled, and I had the biggest grin on my face. She didn’t realize that I did not answer her question. All I did was ask questions that were appropriate for her age, and led her to construct her new knowledge from facts that she already knew.
The constructivist learning theory states that “Children are not a blank slate and knowledge cannot be imparted without the child making sense of it according to his or her current conceptions. Therefore children learn best when they are allowed to construct a personal understanding based on experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences.”
Thus, as educators, we must consciously teach for construction of knowledge and not just teach to impart knowledge.
Click the links below to read more about the constructivist learning theory.