Last modified on 2 February 2009, at 02:31

Constructivist Theories in Education/Piaget

What would Piaget (1896-1980) say to today's primary teachers to encourage a constructivist approach?

Luckily, we need not use our imagination here: Piaget dealt with elementary teachers and had very specific recommendations for them in different subject areas (Piaget, 1998, De la pédagogie. Paris: Éditions Odile Jacob). As early as 1921 he was hired by Claparède to become director of studies at the Jean Jacques Rousseau Institute in Geneva. He worked for the International Bureau of Education from 1929 to 1967 and Director of the Institute of Educational Sciences at the University of Geneva from 1932-1971.

Piaget's advice to teachers, in essence, was to provide conditions under which the child can be guided to learn for themselves: Not just to master existing knowledge, but to become excited about the possibility of creating new knowledge. What this means in different disciplines will depend on the specific topics being learned. The idea being that the student constructs their own understandings rather than being a passive recipient of knowledge.

Of course, Jean Piaget's ideas are not new. 2000 years ago, Plutarch said: "The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled." Plutarch (46 - 127)


See alsoEdit

Contemporary Educational Psychology/Chapter 3: Student Development--discusses Piaget's theory as it applies to classroom learning.