Constructivism operates on the theory that knowledge is received actively through experience and cooperation. Knowledge or the cognitive organization of this knowledge allows from subjective interpretation of reality as every individual constructs knowledge. The process is organic and new, not reproduced or predetermined and requires thoughtful reflection on all elements of experience especially context and content. One cannot construct knowledge alone, but rather knowledge is received and experienced in collaboration, “by the participation of the individual in the social consciousness of the race” (Dewey, 1897). According to Dewey’s “My Pedagogic Creed,” this process begins unconsciously almost at birth and is continually shaping the individual’s powers, saturating his consciousness, forming his habits, training his ideas and arousing his feelings and emotions” (Dewey, 1897). In this way, an individual finds meaning within the social group and seeks to meet and adhere to the demands of his social situation. And as a member of the group, the individual becomes responsible for the welfare of that group.
Dewey believes the school is “primarily a social institution,” a concentrated form of community life, a vessel for social progress (Dewey, 1897). This constructivist ideology centers on unity and cooperative learning while still maintaining an emphasis on individual accountability. Within the classroom, cooperative learning operates under the philosophy that isolation limits understanding, so individuals work as members of a group or team in order to learn from one another. This interaction benefits not only cognitive learning, but also the building of social skills. Collaborating and working together affirms the value and contributions of others while affirming once sense of being valued by his or her peers.
Dewey, J. (1897). “My Pedagogic Creed,” The School Journal, 54, (3), pp. 77-80.
Image retrieved on February 10th, 2013: http://www.scoop.it/t/5e-s-learning/p/456714456/constructivist-education