Empowerment – Constructivism vs Instructivism
Do both lead to student empowerment?
This is a second short post in response to Chris Lehmann’s post about Engagement vs Empowerment.
Let me change direction somewhat here and be a little more provocative.
Many of those who read this blog posting will undoubtedly fall into the ‘constructivist’ camp. Therefore, I won’t describe the concepts here. My views of a constructivist school implementation are well documented. Constructivist teachers would, for the most part, suggest that they do a better job at empowering students because they provide greater choice and autonomy of exploration and knowledge construction.
However, many supporters of ‘direct and guided instruction’ would suggest that they are, in fact, empowering students by building their basic skills in a foundational way. This would give them the power to be successful with higher-level tasks. Open Court (SRA) reading program is one such example. Carl Bereiter and Marlene Scardamalia are both authors on this series. They are cognitive scientists who firmly belief in the empowerment of students. But their approach can be quite ‘instructivist’. But I would encourage people to read their research and to also look at Knowledge Forum – a collaborative, knowledge-building tool.
I would particularly like to hear from those who find Scardamalia & Bereiter’s two streams of work to be in conflict.
Thoughts? Please share.