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Constructionism and Constructivism

 

Explanations > Social Research > Philosophies of Social Research > Constructionism and Constructivism

Definition | Social constructionism | Education, Constructivism and Constructionism | See also

 

Definition

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.

There are two parts to a construction: the elements themselves and the connections/relationships between them. Construction can thus involve adding new elements or making new connections. Removing and changing are also options, as well as addition.

The idea of constructs goes back to Lao Tzu and Buddha and was picked up in more recent philosophy by Immanuel Kant, who noted the patterning in how we think and talked about 'categories' (which were precursors to schema).

Social constructionism

Social constructionism considers the creation of constructs and understanding between people and within societies. We thus build our internal models in a pseudo-shared way in response to our perceptions of perceived constructs we receive from others.

Construction can thus be seen as a social process whereby constructs (and hence 'reality') emerge from ongoing conversations and interactions.

Education, Constructivism and Constructionism

In education, Piaget described Constructivism as being the process whereby students constructed their own unique systems of knowing, in consequence of which the teacher should focus on this individual process of internal construction rather than standing at the front and spouting their own models.

Seymour Papert, a student of Piaget, expanded on this to describe Constructionism in terms of helping the student produce constructions that others can see and critique.

In this educational frame, then, Constructivism is more cognitive and Constructionism more physical.

See also

Schools of thought in Critical Theory, Personal Construct Theory, Hermeneutics

 

Berger, P. L. and T. Luckmann (1966). The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge, Garden City, NY: Anchor Books

Seymour Papert and Idit Harel, I. (1991). Constructionism, Ablex Publishing Corporation

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