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Piaget can be considered the father of the theory of constructivism. Constructivism is a theory on learning, which suggests that people acquire knowledge by experiencing things and in conjunction with knowledge that they already possess, "construct" their own understanding of these things. In simple terms, it suggests that we never learn anything from scratch, but rather that new information that we acquire builds on knowledge that we already have, and this constructs a new, broader understanding of the world around us.

Constructivism suggests that the learner needs to be proactive in how they learn, taking new information, and shaping it to their understanding, rather than just sitting still and passively absorbing information like a sponge. In recent decades, this method of learning has gradually become more popular in the school system. The differences between a constructivist classroom and a traditional classroom are illustrated below.


From the above comparative chart, it is easy to see that the constructivist point of view takes on more of an empowering role for the students. The teacher serves as more of a guide, than a controlling figure, and is more akin to the methods associated with third level education. Having a standardised curriculum is rejected in favour of a more customised curriculum, which has the same aims for sharing knowledge, but makes use of a student's prior knowledge, and expands upon it.

(A video which attempts to portray the differences between a constructivist and a traditional classroom)

Advantages of Constructivism in classrooms:

-Group interaction is encouraged.
-Students get to take a more active role in judging their own progress.
-Personal responsibility is encouraged.
-New knowledge is actively built upon existing knowledge.
-It ensures that information that is important to the student is learned, rather than just what is important to the educational system.

Disadvantages of Constructivism in classrooms:

-It can be a challenge for teachers, as they cannot simply assume that every student understands things the same way.
-Because it rejects a standardised curriculum, it can be very time consuming.
-The facilities necessary to incorporate such a system properly, would likely be extremely costly, particularly so with the current cut backs in educational funding, due to the present economic climate.
-Constructivism suggests that different students have different needs when it comes to learning, but it doesn't mean that they'll all get the experiences necessary.

Finally, a brief video to summarise constructivism: