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November 1999 | Volume 57 | Number 3
The Constructivist Classroom
Although most constructivist classrooms feature active, social, and creative learning, different kinds of knowledge invite different constructivist responses, not one standard constructivist approach.
Betty Fable's first day as a student at Constructivist High School was interesting but puzzling. In European history, the teacher challenged each student to write a letter from a French aristocrat to an Italian one, describing a key event of the French Revolution. In physics, the teacher asked students to predict whether heavy objects would fall faster than light ones, how much faster, and why. Then small groups of students designed their own experiments to test their theories. In algebra, where the class was learning the basic skill of simplifying algebraic expressions, the teacher insisted on conducting a discussion about what it means to simplify. Were simplified expressions the same as simplified equations? In English, after the class read Robert Frost's "Acquainted with the Night," the teacher asked students to relate the poem to an episode in their own lives.
Betty Fable expected all the teachers at Constructivist High to teach in a constructivist way—whatever that was. But what was it? Role playing, experimenting, analyzing, making connections to one's life? To her, each teacher seemed to be doing something different.
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Copyright © 1999 by David Perkins
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