Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Constructivism in a secondary school

During the holidays I have been reading a bit about constructivisme.

At the same time in the complexe word of education, a giant dilemma appeared about Khan's academy videos. The controversy stood in the fact that by watching videos, students do not get to experience what constructivisme is really all about.

Although I agree partially with that, in the sense that even if I keep watching hours of videos of someone teaching me how to sail, I will only know how to sail the day I go on a boat, on a sea and that I can make the boat moves (and not die !!). So of course while watching a video the learning is not happening.

or is it ?

We learn mainly my mimicking and in a social environment. So I need someone to show me how to do something first. Last night I had my first session of Jiu Jitsu (Youpiiii!!!), the instructor showed me first how to break my fall, and then asked me to do it myself. Without his showing I would not have any idea how to break my fall. My instructor was in front of me, but that would have been the same if he had been in Congo, I could have watched a video of an instructor showing some movements.

I have actually learned how to break my fall when I did try myself.....actually no. I have embraced my learning (I owned my learning) when I was able to fall without crying, as I think I started to learn while I was watching the instructor. I could thus look at perfect moves and analyze where I should put my arms before hitting the mat.

If we think that watching a Khan video (or any other media e.g. books, blogs, TV, phone, networks) it is admitting that lurkers do not learn. I am often a lurker as I think I don't have a lot to offer to others, and every single time (or almost every single time) that I participate to a conference or an online vent, I learn heaps.

Another question I have about contructivism is that during my readings I have seen a lot of examples of implementation of constructivism in small schools (primary and intermediate) but I have not managed to find anything about secondary school. Is it then possible to implement constructivism theory in a secondary class knowing that at the end we have an exam?

I can see it would be possible to implement such a theory in my class, especially using an eportfolio to gather evidence of work/ progress but with external assessment which are set nationally, I dont see how it would work.

As much as I don't want to sound like a whinging teacher (too late !!!) I also wonder how it would be possible to implement it in a class of 30.

I explain.

Everything that I have read points out that it is necessary to present the students with work/ ideas that is relevant to them, that they are interested in. This morning I have asked my social studies class what they would like to study in my class if they had the choice. The kids came up with topics ranging from evolution, agriculture change throughout history, Music history to NZ sports. Knowing that, it would be easy to interest them into learning. As a few want to learn about NZ sports they should work in a group, while the kids who are interested in music history can work in a different group. So far so good. But how as a teacher who works full time (plus duty, plus Group Class, plus meeting etc..) can I cater for so many groups ?

As I am very keen in implementing this in my class, I would be grateful for any help and comments

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