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Criticism of Constructivism

Criticism of Constructivism

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You can see About Criticism of Constructionist.Before continuing, we must stress that that there is strong opposition to constructivism. See the articles by Matthews, Nola, Phillips, and Ogborn in the Special Issue on Philosophy and Constructivism in Science Education (January 1997) of the journal Science & Education. 


The articles are also available in Matthews (1998). One critic writes vehemently: 

“If radical constructivism is post-epistemological then it is also pre-Copernican and adopts views of science similar to those of the Inquisition that interviewed Galileo” 

54 Ben-Ari The criticism is not so much of the constructivist theory of learning, but rather of extreme conclusions drawn from constructivist epistemology: “The one-step argument from the psychological premise 

(1) ‘the mind is active in knowledge acquisition,’ to the epistemological conclusion (2) ‘we cannot know reality,’ is endemic in constructivist writing” (Matthews, 1994, p. 151). Carried to the extreme, radical constructivism leads to solipsism, the philosophical claim that the world is one’s own mental creation.

In turn, this can lead to a rejection of ethics: if the world is my own creation, why should I care what happens to others? Boyle (1996, Section 6.4) takes radical constructivists to task for putting too much emphasis on an individual’s cognition at the expense of the biological (Piaget) and social (Vygotsky) foundations upon which cognition must be based. 

Carried to the extreme, social constructivism leads to a view of science as a merely political enterprise developed by entrenched elitist groups whose sole purpose is to ensure their own survival.From the fallibility of scientific knowledge, one slips into relativism of truth, and from the sociology of scientific practice, into demands for empowerment detached from any attempt at objective evaluation of scientific knowledge. The extreme position is stated in the Edinburgh “strong programme” on the sociology of knowledge (Bloor, 1991; Barnes et al., 1996); for criticism of this position see the articles in Matthews (1998). 

The essential question is whether being a constructivist requires an epistemological commitment to empiricism and idealism (or social idealism), as opposed to rationalism and realism that seem to come more naturally to scientists. This delicate question can perhaps be avoided by taking the position of “pedagogical constructivists”, “who concentrate solely on pedagogy, and improved classroom practices,....For [whom], the details of epistemological psychology are unimportant, and not worth disputing about”

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