The Social Constructivism in Education

Constructivism is a theory to explain how knowledge is constructed in the human being when information comes into contact with existing knowledge that had been developed by experiences. It has its roots in cognitive psychology and biology and an approach to education that lays emphasis on the ways knowledge is created in order to adapt to the world. Constructs are the different types of filters we choose to place over our realities to change our reality from chaos to order. Constructivism has implications for the theory of instruction. Discovery learning, hands-on, experiential, collaborate, project-based, tasked-based are a number of applications that base teaching and learning on constructivism.

The purpose in education is to become creative and innovative through analysis, conceptualizations, and synthesis of prior experience to create new knowledge. The educator’s role is to mentor the learner during heuristic problem solving of ill-defined problems by enabling quested learning that may modify existing knowledge and allow for creation of new knowledge. The learning goal is the highest order of learning: heuristic problem solving, metacognitive knowledge, creativity, and originality. To put it simply, social constructivism not only acknowledges the uniqueness and complexity of the learner, but actually encourages, utilizes and rewards it as an integral part of the learning process (Wertsch 1997).

According to the social constructivism approach, Future teachers have to adapt to the role of facilitators and not lecturers. Whereas a lecturer gives a didactic lecture that covers the subject matter, a facilitator helps the learner to get to his or her own understanding of the content. In the former scenario the learner plays a passive role and in the latter scenario the learner plays an active role in the learning process. The emphasis thus turns away from the instructor and the content, and towards the learner (Gamoran, Secada, & Marrett, 1998).

This dramatic change of role implies that a future teachers needs to display a totally different set of skills than a lecturer. The teacher cannot just tell, but asks; the teacher cannot lectures from the front, but must supports from the back; a teacher should not give answers according to a set curriculum, but provide guidelines and creates the environment for the learner to arrive at his or her own conclusions. Thus future teachers should be able to adapt the learning experience ‘in mid-air’ by taking the initiative to steer the learning experience to where the learners want to create value.

I believe this is what we as future teachers need to keep in mind and develop for the future generation of students.

social constructivism

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