Session S50a (Tuesday, 9:30am, Thomas 201)

P460: Constructivist frameworks and the problem of the "thumb in the eye"

Donald Wink (University of Illinois – Chicago, USA)

Constructivism is a common framework in science education because of its ability to describe how learners do, or do not, come to know things after particular experiences. This reflects the way the framework emerged, in part, from psychological perspectives associated with the role of the individual’s history and interpretation of events in determining what is known (literally, what is constructed in the mind of the knower). However, constructivism also emerged from a philosophical perspective, where knowledge of all kinds is considered to be an outcome of constructive acts by humans. Following the advice of the (educational constructivist) Nicholas Burbules, this talk will discuss the ways that the meanings of constructivism in education and in philosophy can cause confusion unless we are careful to distinguish them. To not do so is, as Burbules said, to risk inadvertently putting our “thumb in the eye of conventional philosophical views.”

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