Friday, September 22, 2006

Embracing Constructivism

I have decided to convert to the dark side and embrace the obvious superiority of constructivism and "discovery" learning. I started with my 7-8 year old soccer team. Instead of traumatizing the children by teaching them meaningless skills like kicking and dribbling, now I just give them the ball and tell them to discover the game of soccer on their own. I don't even bother explaining the rules because as we all know soccer rules were developed by an elitist white European culture. Instead, I let my kids create their own rules. To protect their self-esteem, each player earns a goal by breathing. One breath = 1 point. To address individual learning differences I have scheduled 17 different practices, because every kid is different. Since games (the sports equivalent of standardized testing) are culturally biased and ran by obviously prejudiced sexist referees, I developed my own measure of success. I rated my kids against kids who learn by a more regimented style, my kids came out on top. For each kid who picked up the ball with his hands thereby demonstrating creative thinking, I awarded that style of learning a point. In depth analysis of my study proved that my style of coaching had a positive effect of 1 million standard deviations. My next step is to write a book...

Originally posted on D-Edreckoning in response to Conceptualize This, also see his post on Chicken Porn.

8 comments:

rightwingprof said...

Make sure you're sitting down.

Constructivism has its uses, and can even be the best way to teach something. See here.

rory said...

Constructivism has its uses... as long as the child (or young adult) has had a good foundation in background knowledge. For instance, if my kids were 17 - 18 years old and were technically proficient in soccer, then it might be appropriate to let them figure out a game strategy to counter an upcoming game.

Constructivism seems to be appropriate to help kids learn how to "apply" knowledge, not to use it to "teach" knowledge.

Good points though...

KDeRosa said...

At its core constructivism is a form of inductive learning. Inductive learning requires being able to discriminate between a series of things. This requires domain knowledge to pull off.

DI, for example, relies on inductive learning for teaching many sounds and words. This is what rightwingprof is doing as well.

The bad kind of constructivism is when educators try to do the same thing when kids do not have sufficicent domain knowledge. They use constructivism as a substitute for teaching facts. This is just plain wrong.

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

This is SO wrong on so many different levels. It gives me a headache!

Dennis Fermoyle said...

Rory, are you really coaching soccer? If so, that's great. I will say this: For nine years I coached little league baseball, and one of my groups was 8-10 year olds. It was a great experience, and it taught me a lot about teaching. You really have to start from the basics, and you need to break everything down. I know this wasn't your point, but from all the coaching I've done, I can say that there is a lot to be learned about teaching from coaching a sport.

Dennis Fermoyle said...

Rory, I just want to say that I really like your blog. As you know, we have our fair share of disagreements, but you make your point and get out. You present an important (parent's!) point of view, and you don't have the blogger's equivalent of verbal diarrhea. A lot of bloggers could take a lesson from your KISS philosophy (Keep It Simple, Stupid!). Keep up the good work.

rory said...

Dennis, Yes I really am coaching soccer. Sometimes I think I live at the local park. I have four kids on three teams. It seemed like a good analogy... and I was way to lazy this week to attempt to be intellectual... or perform spell check.

Being in the military, we are drilled with the KISS philosophy. It works quite well as I am simple and stupid.

rightwingprof said...

Sure, it requires knowledge. But there are things that can only be learned inductively. Let's take the resume topic as an example.

The list of things that can be taught directly about resumes -- that is, that apply to all resumes across the board without respect to employer, job, or anything else -- can be put in a one page handout, and of course, we had covered all that. The answer to 99% of all questions having to do with resumes is, "It depends."

What makes a good resume has far more to do with the specifics of the job and the person's job history and how well he can talk himself up than it does with any "resume universals" on that hand out. That's why this is the kind of thing that can only be learned through induction -- because saying "It depends" when you're expected to give a black and white answer is just frustrating.