Constructivism

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I learned many valuable things in this module but one of the best things I learned is that every individual is responsible for constructing their own knowledge. Students, including myself, can’t just sit in a chair and absorb knowledge; we have to be given freedom and guidance to actively construct our own knowledge. As a teacher I use the same approach with my students and I try very hard to give them meaningful experiences which will challenge them to think. If students aren’t challenged, they won’t grow but this only works with proper guidance and encouragement. If students are challenged with no guidance and encouragement they will eventually get discouraged and give up.
The goal for teachers is to help students become “expert learners” who will keep questioning the world around them to understand it better. Teachers are there to help students develop knowledge rather than have the students reproduced it. The only way to do this is by providing problem-solving and inquiry-based learning activities for the students to engage in. Even though accommodation can certainly foster more significant learning, it can only do so with the help of assimilation.

Aside from that, there is a concept called “Cognitive Disequilibrium” which describes a person becoming confused because a new experience is jarring and incomprehensible. They might choose to adapt to this new experience through the process assimilation or accommodation, but they might not either. Typical signs of cognitive disequilibrium might include feeling confused, dazed, unsettled, off balance and frustrated. The only way that cognitive disequilibrium can inhibit learning is if teachers don’t help their students “fit” newly learned information into their knowledge base. I think it’s up to the teachers to help students get their equilibrium back by providing challenging and useful experiences. If students are having difficulties or are hitting road blocks, this should help guide them through it.

We all go through difficulties, regardless of our backgrounds, experiences, and skill levels. At some point in our lives most of us will be skilled enough in something called an MKO, or “more knowledgeable others.” I’m talking about the “zone of proximal development,” which basically identifies individuals who are in need of help on a given task, and strongly suggesting they seek help from more skilled individuals.

I believe every teacher has a duty to encourage and foster the use of MKO’s in class, and to also scaffold their lessons to meet the needs of each of their students. I believe differentiation must happen in order for real learning to occur and teachers should be using scaffolding as a regular strategy to improve learning as well. Teachers should create groups where members are at different levels so students can receive help from advanced peers or give help to less experienced ones. Scaffolding isn’t just something that can be thrown together overnight, it must be carefully planned and it can only work by breaking it down into 3 parts…..such as

  1. General encouragement
  2. Specific instruction
  3. Direction demonstration

Lastly, I was forced to think about other cultures as well and figure out how my own culture affects my learning. Growing up in the Philippines not many students take education as seriously as they should, this is proven by the fact we are never “high” on the list for the best performing country in terms of education. Other countries such as Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and many others are listed are much higher than the Philippines based on how students perform in school, namely math and science. Filipino culture on the other hand is quite experienced and skilled in PE and Art, such as sports, music and dance. Our culture is more laid back and focused on having a good time, and don’t take our education seriously enough. I’m sure we would take things more seriously if our education system improved. I hope that the leaders of our country would invest on our younger generation by allotting better budget for education. This way, public schools could start purchasing resources that are up-to-date and relevant to students and they could start re-training all teachers of contemporary pedagogy to teach our children essential skills needed for the 21st century.

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