Constructivism

8/16/2012

 
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Classroom setup matters. What works?
Pat Cavagnaro, Principal

My favorite education blog can be found at http://oilf.blogspot.com/ (“oilf” stands for ‘Out in Left Field’).  Beals frequently discusses Constructivism in education.  The educational philosophy of ACL is solidly anti-Constructivist. 

Constructivism may not be a term you are familiar with, but you need to be.  The Constructivist philosophy drives education in public schools and is starting to creep into private and charter schools. This philosophy will, in not too many years...

...diminish our ability to compete with other nations like India and China, creating “a generation of poor readers and poor writers, uninformed in history and science and unprepared for college-prep math.”

The public school “Constructivist” framework views teachers as “guides on the side rather than the sages on stages.”  You can see the physical evidence of constructivism in public classroom set-up:  desks no longer organized in rows, but instead pushed together into “pods.”  This concept contends that students should work together to ‘discover’ subjects rather than being directly taught.  Teachers guide this discovery from the sidelines.  No more boring math drills or memorizing.

Picture trying to learn the piano this way:  instead of practicing scales and learning how to read music, you just sit in a group with other kids and ‘discover’ music.  Sounds like fun, although I doubt you could ever learn to play Mozart this way.

Classical education, proven over the course of thousands of years, recognizes that to play Mozart, training is required.  The same is true with math, language, and every other subject.  Classical education acknowledges that the best time to get this training is when you are young, in grammar school.  (That's why we have replaced our old math curriculum -- Saxon Math -- and are using Singapore Math. Katharine Beals’ blog places a high value on Singapore Math.)  Miss this window of opportunity and students will never become as good at a subject as they could have been.  We all intuitively know this.  A common example:  learning foreign languages.  You know your five-year-old can pick up French faster than a 50-year-old can.

We want everyone attending or supporting ACL to understand how education is fundamentally different here than in the public schools.  When people ask you why you ‘pay twice’ to educate your children, we hope your first reason is that ACL is a Christian school.  We also hope you can communicate about our academic philosophy:  that classical education is far superior to what is offered in the public school system.  We actually teach your children fundamental subject matter, and then we build on that knowledge with training in logic and rhetoric.

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