Constructivism in Education

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

Preface

We have the seeming paradox of knowing the meanings of the words and sentences, but not knowing their meaning. This would be our normal situation if understanding were merely passive, and speakers and hearers did not respond to our interests. There is, of course, a sense in which books do intone their contents somewhat in the fashion described, but it is we who do the intoning and our reading is not passive, for we query the text and make it respond to our interests, giving it thereby a meaning.

-- Tyler ( 1978, p. 385)

As Spivey (chap. 16) notes in her chapter, and Tyler previously, written texts only offer cues selected by the author that suggest configurations of meanings that the reader uses in constructing his or her own meaning. Neither this text nor any text can convey the complexity and richness of the activity invested by each author in preparing his or her manuscript. As the reader gives meaning to the sentences he or she reads, it is implicitly assumed that the words convey an intended meaning with meanings developed out of prior contexts. However, the many interactions and serendipitous events pivotal to the development of these ideas often get marginalized or left out of the text completely. The chapters in this book are but one set of transformations, frozen in time, circa mid-1992, of ideas presented at the Alternative Epistemologies in Education Conference, February 19-23, 1992. To provide a context from which to read and query these chapters, a brief history of the conference is presented.

-xi-

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