In Search of Understanding: The Case for Constructivist Classrooms

In Search of Understanding: The Case for Constructivist Classrooms

In Search of Understanding: The Case for Constructivist Classrooms

In Search of Understanding: The Case for Constructivist Classrooms


The activities that transpire within the classroom either help or hinder students' learning. Any meaningful discussion of educational renewal, therefore, must focus explicitly and directly on the classroom, and on the teaching and learning that occur within it. This book presents a case for the development of classrooms in which students are encouraged to construct deep understandings of important concepts.

Jacqueline Grennon Brooks and Martin Brooks present a new set of images for educational settings, images that emerge from student engagement, interaction, reflection, and construction. They have considerable experience in creating constructivist educational settings and conducting research on those settings. Authentic examples are provided throughout the book, as are suggestions for administrators, teachers, and policymakers.

For the new edition of their popular book, the authors have written an introduction that places their work in today's educational renewal setting. Today, they urge, the case for constructivist classrooms is much stronger and the need more critical.


Judging from our conference presentations, our consulting work, and our mail since the 1993 publication of this book, the basic tenets of constructivism clearly strike a responsive chord with a great many teachers and administrators.

Constructivism is a topic on the conference programs of virtually all prominent national educational organizations and has been widely described and analyzed in professional journals. Recent publications have presented constructivist theory in a variety of contexts: curriculum mapping, teacher education, and school leadership, to name three. University faculty and national teacher associations have endorsed constructivist lesson design and instructional practices. Moreover, a few state education departments (New York, California, and Kentucky, among others) have identified constructivist teaching practices as preferred, and have included explicit examples of student-designed work in their state curriculum frameworks and standards.

Learning: Not a Linear Process

Interestingly, all of these events have occurred at a time when the politics of education has taken a turn away from the principles on which constructivist-based education rests. The thinking behind this turn is exquisitely simple: develop high standards to which all students will be held; align curriculum to these standards; construct assessments to measure whether all students are meeting the standards; reward schools whose students meet the standards and punish schools whose students don’t.

This simple, linear approach to educational renewal is badly flawed. It is virtually identical to all the other approaches to renewal that have preceded it, and it misses the point. Meaningful . . .

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