Constructivism and the Role of the Teacher: We Still Want to See the Teacher

By Baines, Lawrence A.; Stanley, Gregory | Phi Delta Kappan, May 2001 | Go to article overview

Constructivism and the Role of the Teacher: We Still Want to See the Teacher


Baines, Lawrence A., Stanley, Gregory, Phi Delta Kappan


A master teacher can have a profound influence on the life of a child, Mr. Baines and Mr. Stanley respond. This is no time to tell the teacher to sit down and shut up.

HAD Lynn Chrenka presented a body of research that clearly demonstrated the superiority of constructivism as a teaching philosophy, we would have been more impressed. Instead, she tries to reconstruct history so that a litany of comments from dead geniuses can be claimed to support constructivism. Unfortunately, a solid body of research support does not exist, nor has it ever existed.

As it is practiced in institutions of higher education, constructivism has become a kind of intolerant religious order, replete with an accompanying doctrine, a mandate to evangelize and convert (apparently, even the dead), and an interminable list of commandments. Of the many sins one can commit against constructivism, none is more egregious than for the teacher to act as expert. Although a teacher might possess rare breadth and depth of knowledge, a charismatic personality, a masterly command of language, and a brilliance in leading discussions, constructivists have decreed, "Thou shalt not lecture." In many schools of education, the prejudice against lecturing as a method of instruction has reached astounding new heights.

One letter we received in response to our December article came from a doctoral student who lamented that schools of education seem to focus only on the theoretical dimensions of constructivism, "with little concern for knowledge." Over the course of her academic career, this student had attended New York University, Pace University, Columbia University, and a state school in Florida. She wrote that, "in these institutions, I was surrounded by theorists and professionals who thought 'teaching nothing' was okay because it allowed for student self-discovery." Recently, student teachers interning at a local high school told us that they were admonished not to lecture by their supervising professor. The professor told them, "If I ever catch you lecturing, you will receive an instant F for the term."

Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that "sages" who speak with enthusiasm and authority about a subject they love are increasingly rare in public schools. An expert does not try to stamp out intellectual inquiry but helps guide it. Because the 21st century promises to bombard students with unprecedented amounts of data, misinformation, and propaganda, they will need a sage with a wealth of experience to help them distinguish between the authentic and the forged, between truth and quackery. Sometimes, telling students to find their own answers is tantamount to leaving them stranded in a dark forest without a compass.

The radical proposal put forth in our article was that a teacher should have the right to choose among instructional methodologies based on goals, his or her particular talents, and the characteristics of the students who make up the class. Lecturing is not the subterfuge of the wicked; it is a teaching methodology, like cooperative learning or simulation. At times, a lecture can be stimulating and highly effective. Even Plato (probably before he shifted his allegiance to constructivism) was known to engage in lecture and discussion upon occasion. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Constructivism and the Role of the Teacher: We Still Want to See the Teacher
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.