No, We’re Not Crazy After All, Dept.

As devotees of this site know (or even occasional readers for that matter), I rail against the mischaracterization of traditional math teaching. It is often portrayed as teachers talking for 50 minutes, as stilted, dull and imagination stifling, as rote memorization and no understanding.

Thus, I was glad to see a paper which addressed how constructivist philosophy is dominating educational practice and pedagogy in the 21st century. Thus proving that I’m not the only one who thinks this way.

Unfortunately, the publication charges for downloads, and I cannot distribute it without violating copyright laws. But these two quotes should suffice:

“One of the primary approaches taken by advocates of pure constructivist pedagogy is to offer up a boogeyman of some essentialist teacher who sits and lectures “at” his or her passive or disengaged students for the vast majority of the class. Sam Roberson and Cynthia Woody (2012, 209) describe this boogeyman as one who “designs and delivers to the students the information and bits of knowledge – typically dispensed in simplistic form … and students are largely passive recipients expected to absorb and remember what is taught (i.e., ‘the whole week copying notes off the board’).” … The problem with this is that for the past several decades these boogeymen are simply no longer found in significant numbers in the American educational system. One might reflect on whether or not any of us know a current teacher who even remotely embodies such a style, and if so, whether it is the majority or the overwhelming minority of teachers.”

I would add that even in the past, this description is a bit off, which the next quote captures:

“Teachers should reflect on how they can reconsider the use of constructivist pedagogy in their own classroom, how they can work to reframe the discourse in this increasingly “student-centered” educational environment, and not promote nor permit the caricature of alternatives to constructivism in their buildings, districts, and states. Teachers’ voices are needed – and they need to have clarity to deal with the challenges and concerns in this environment, which is trending more and more towards compelling teachers to adopt and utilize constructivist pedagogy as the primary method for instruction.”

Kevin S. Krahenbuhl (2016): Student-centered Education and
Constructivism: Challenges, Concerns, and Clarity for Teachers, The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, DOI: 10.1080/00098655.2016.1191311

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