Sunday, October 20, 2013

Constructivism and Constructionism: liberating learners from their dependency on being taught

I'm reading the book Invent to Learn by Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez and came upon the phrase that is the title of this post in Chapter 2 on Learning.  The power of the maker movement is that it builds on theories of learning.  Piaget, for example, wrote about how learners construct knowledge inside their heads based on their experiences.  This knowledge therefore is not simply transferred from someone else - the learner has to make sense of it by combining new information and experiences with what he or she already knows or has experienced.  Going further from this, Papert explains that the most effective learning occurs when the learner constructs a meaningful product - so that the learning is reinforced by being engaged in a "personally meaningful activity outside of their heads that makes the learning real and shareable."

I'm thinking about this in terms of the PYP.  I'm reflecting on the power of giving provocations that encourage really deep thinking and questioning, and on including a maker component into the summative assessments.  And once again I'm back to the idea of giving students choices, as not all learners will have the same knowledge or experiences to hang the new learning on.  If the provocations are powerful, then the students can design their own inquiries and learning engagements.  If the learning engagements are authentic, then they can also design their own summative assessments and make something personal that really demonstrates their understanding.  And in these sorts of environments, the "cookie cutter" project will quite naturally die out.

Photo Credit: Phil Burns via Compfight cc

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