Essential Question: Do you believe Constructionism brings any new ideas to the table as a theory of education? Why or Why not?
I don't think it is anything new, rather I think it is something that has always been there but underused. It is scary and different. Sometimes people are afraid to try new things. It also does not align with the amount of material required to be covered by many teacher's curriculums.
Lets first start with a definition of Constructionism. "Constructionism views the world as being internally created through constructs, or internal models. We thus view the world through these constructs and which have significant and often unrealized effect on our perceptions" (Constructionism and Constructivism, n.d.). There are 2 parts to this: either constructing a new idea or changing the connections you made about an idea. Constructionism was developed by Seymour Papert and argues for "learning based on creativity, tinkering, exploring, building, and presentation" (Donaldson, 2014). People are constantly creating things to fit the world around them. This is the definition of technology in science textbooks. We are makers and are constantly creating new things, this is not a new idea.
This is very related to the earlier idea of constructivism by Piaget. Constructivism is the “… use of active methods which give broad scope to the spontaneous research of the child or adolescent and requires that every new truth to be learned, be rediscovered, or at least reconstructed by the student and not simply imported to him” (Martinez & Stager, 2013).
To keep these straight, lets think of constructionism as more hands on, or physical, and constructivism more in the mind, or cognitive (Constructionism and Constructivism, n.d.).
I think of both of these theories when I remember a saying I always heard teachers say "if you can teach it you know it." However this does not imply a practicality to the knowledge the student obtained. This statement needs to be revamped to include authenticity of learning, just as constructionism advocates for.
There are many benefits to a teaching style that reflects constructionism. One huge benefit is demonstrated by this statement, "Once students mastered a new capability, such as waterjet cutting or microcontroller programming, they had a near-evangelical interest in showing others how to use it" (Martinez & Stager, 2013). I have personally seen this with a project I did this semester with students. They were making models of homes and insulating them with materials they had "purchased." Students wanted to help others, sometimes even above getting their own work done. The students were invested, and wanted to share with each other. Another key idea is that students are in control, and must create their own learning. "Best of all, gone are the days of helplessness, dependency, and consumption. Making lets you take control of your life, be more active, and be responsible for your own learning" (Martinez & Stager, 2013). This also shows how students are invested and this in turn can create a positivity around education that is not found in a classroom taught in the traditional way.
Constructionism and Constructivism. (n.d.). Retrieved May 17, 2016, from http://changingminds.org/explanations/research/philosophies/constructionism.htm
Donaldson, J. (2014). The Maker Movement and the Rebirth of Constructionism. Retrieved May 17, 2016, from http://www.digitalpedagogylab.com/hybridped/constructionism-reborn/
Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom [Kindle].