Constructivism in Education

By Leslie P. Steffe; Jerry Gale | Go to book overview

3
In Dialogue: Social Constructionism and Radical Constructivism

John Shotter Department of Communication University of New Hampshire

Our task in this book is to study comparisons and contrasts between social constructionism, radical constructivism, information-processing constructivism, cybernetic systems, sociocultural developmental approaches, and social constructivism.

These approaches have a number of things in common. (a) For a start, rather than focus on "things" and "substances," studies should focus on "activities"; not just on any activities in general, however, but on creative, formative, or constructive activities of a self-reproductive, self-sustaining, or reflexive kind. (b) In the growth of knowledge, "making" is more important than "finding," and creative processes are more important than processes of discovery. (c) We also take it for granted that it no longer makes sense to talk of our knowledge of an absolute reality--of our knowledge of a world independent of us--because for us there is no "external world," as it used to be called. (d) Indeed, if we can have any contacts at all with any "thing" or "activity" beyond or outside of the constructionist or constructivist activities--contacts or resistances that might surprise us, then their character remains unknown to us, except in relation to the activities from within which all our knowing takes place ( Harré, 1990; Shotter, 1984, 1993). (e) Thus, given our interest in what goes on within one or another kind of constructive activity, although most of us still claim to be concerned with theory or theories instead of trying to test them in terms of their degree of correspondence to a supposed external world--appealing in the process to truth as accuracy of representation--

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