The first part of this paper examines the differences between Piaget’s constructivism, what Papert refers to as“constructionism,” and the socio-constructivist approach as portrayed by Vygotsky. All these views are developmental, and they share the notion that people actively contribute to the construction of their knowledge, by transforming their world. Yet the views also differ, each highlighting on some aspects of how children learn and grow, while leaving other questions unanswered. Attempts at integrating these views [learning through experience, through media, and through others] helps shed light on how people of different ages and venues come to make sense of their experience, and find their place – and voice – in the world. Tools, media, and cutural artifacts are the tangible forms, or mediational means, through which we make sense of our world and negociate meaning with others. In the second part of this paper, I speak to the articulations between make-believe activities and creative symbol-use as a guiding connection to rethink the aims of representations. Simulacrum and simulation, I show, play a key role besides language in helping children ground and mediate their experience in new ways. From computer-based microworlds for constructive learning (Papert’s turtle geometry, TERC’s body-syntonic graphing), to social virtual environments (MUDing). In each case, I discuss the roles of symbolic recreation, and imaginary projection (people’s abilities to build and dwell in their creations) as two powerful heuristic to keep in touch with situations, to bring what’s unknown to mind’s reach, and to explore risky ideas on safe grounds. I draw implications for education.
In the drive to improve standards, the collection and dissemination of numerical data still directs much contemporary educational policy. However, recent publications and debates seemingly attempt to reorient discussion from performance to learning. In support, constructivism is often referenced as a contributor in this endeavour. However, constructivism is not a single unified theory either of knowledge or pedagogy. This article identifies one version of constructivist thinking, social constructivism, both in terms of its underlying epistemology (theory of knowledge) and related pedagogy. Contemporary educational theories are then outlined to demonstrate that many practical solutions and theoretical ideas now presented as ‘good learning and teaching’ have much in common with social constructivist thinking. Finally, the article concludes by identifying two issues that require further discussion and debate if pedagogy of a social constructivist nature is to be considered.
Education has institutionalized a process that reifies cultures, ecological communities, and ultimately evolution itself. This enclosure has lessened our sensitivity to the pedagogical (eteragogical) nature of our lived relations with other people and with other living beings. By acknowledging that learning and teaching go on between species, humans can regain an eteragogical sense of the interspecies curricula within which they exist. This article explores interspecies lived curricula through a selection of ideas from ecopragmatist Anthony Weston, and cybernetician Gregory Bateson, and through lived experiences with shorebirds of Lake Ontario. Some gulls and a tern teach the author to enrich and diversify, rather than constrict, the potentiality of life. In so doing, being ecological and being educative become unified concepts. Relevance: The publication is concerned with the relational implications between humans and other species of Bateson’s cybernetic theory of learning.
For millennia people have wondered what makes the living different from the non-living. Beginning in the mid-1980s, artificial life has studied living systems using a synthetic approach: build life in order to understand it better, be it by means of software, hardware, or wetware. This review provides a summary of the advances that led to the development of artificial life, its current research topics, and open problems and opportunities. We classify artificial life research into 14 themes: origins of life, autonomy, self-organization, adaptation (including evolution, development, and learning), ecology, artificial societies, behavior, computational biology, artificial chemistries, information, living technology, art, and philosophy. Being interdisciplinary, artificial life seems to be losing its boundaries and merging with other fields. Relevance: Artificial life has contributed to philosophy of biology and of cognitive science, thus making it an important field related to constructivism.
The aim of this paper is to reconsider some of the stakes involved in the dialogue between sciences and between scientists, considering it as a complex and critical learning process. Dialogue – as conversation, expression, performance and negotiation – can be conceived in several ways. It carries both an epistemic and an experiential side. It involves simultaneously heterogeneous theories and identities. Because it involves fragmented scientific languages, it also requires a shared vision. But above all, what seems critical to acknowledge is that dialogue is a matter of transformation. And because transformation is also a matter of learning, the promotion of dialogue between sciences should be perceived as a virtuous spiral involving: instrumental learning (to dialogue), communicational learning (what we mean by dialoguing) and emancipatory learning (to challenge our core assumptions about dialogue and sciences). Considering the evolution of sciences as a double process embedded in the production of knowledge and the self-development of researchers raises the question of how to conceive simultaneously the relationships between these two major stakes. From a practical point of view, considering scientific dialogue as a lifelong learning process would finally suggest the management of forums like the World Knowledge Dialogue (WKD) as a privileged educational opportunity to be designed following what is known about science as a social practice and about researchers as adult learners. Based on the first edition of this forum, four suggestions are finally considered: favoring heterogeneity; valorizing formal knowledge as well as lived experience; acknowledging the learning dimension involved in the process of sharing; and confronting professional experience with knowledge produced about sciences. Inspired by Edgar Morin’s constructivist and non-dualistic position, this paper explores its practical stakes by revisiting the practice of transdisciplinary research and by considering the relationships between the process of knowledge construction and researchers’ self-development as a lifelong learning process.
The contemporary use of the term ‘complexity’ frequently indicates that it is considered a uniﬁed concept. This may lead to a neglect of the range of different theories that deal with the implications related to the notion of complexity. This paper, integrating both the English and the Latin traditions of research associated with this notion, suggests a more nuanced use of the term, thereby avoiding simpliﬁcation of the concept to some of its dominant expressions only. The paper further explores the etymology of ‘complexity’ and offers a chronological presentation of three generations of theories that have shaped its uses; the epistemic and socio-cultural roots of these theories are also introduced. From an epistemological point of view, this reﬂection sheds light on the competing interpretations underlying the deﬁnition of what is considered as complex. Also, from an anthropological perspective it considers both the emancipatory as well as the alienating dimensions of complexity. Based on the highlighted ambiguities, the paper suggests in conclusion that contributions grounded in contemporary theories related to complexity, as well as critical appraisals of their epistemological and ethical legitimacy, need to follow the recursive feedback loops and dynamics that they constitute. In doing so, researchers and practitioners in education should consider their own practice as a learning process that does not require the reduction of the antagonisms and the complementarities that shape its own complexity.
In order to illustrate what is at stake in the definition and in the development of a complex and constructivist epistemology of transformative learning, this chapter introduces Edgar Morin’s paradigm of complexity and explores six challenges that appear particularly illustrative with regards to the advance of research and practices related to transformative learning.
This paper undertakes a theoretical investigation of the “learning” aspect of science as opposed to the “knowledge” aspect. The practical background of the paper is in agricultural systems research – an area of science that can be characterised as “systemic” because it is involved in the development of its own subject area, agriculture. And the practical purpose of the theoretical investigation is to contribute to a more adequate understanding of science in such areas, which can form a basis for developing and evaluating systemic research methods, and for determining appropriate criteria of scientific quality. Two main perspectives on science as a learning process are explored: research as the learning process of a cognitive system, and science as a social, communicational system. A simple model of a cognitive system is suggested, which integrates both semiotic and cybernetic aspects, as well as a model of self-reflective learning in research, which entails moving from an inside “actor” stance to an outside “observer” stance, and back. This leads to a view of scientific knowledge as inherently contextual and to the suggestion of reflexive objectivity and relevance as two related key criteria of good science.
Excerpt: Education has failed to show steady progress because it has shifted back and forth among simplistic positions such as the associationist and rationalist philosophies. Modern cognitive psychology provides a basis for genuine progress by careful scientific analysis that identifies those aspects of theoretical positions that contribute to student learning and those that do not. Radical constructivism serves as the current exemplar of simplistic extremism, and certain of its devotees exhibit an antiscience bias that, should it prevail, would destroy any hope for progress in education.
Constructivism is an approach to knowledge and learning that focuses on the active role of knowers. Sanchez and Loredo propose a classification of constructivist thinkers and address what they perceive to be internal problems of present-day constructivism. The remedy they propose is a return to the genetic constructivism of James Mark Baldwin, Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. In this article we first raise the question of whether thinkers like Baldwin, Vygotsky, Maturana and Varela are adequately depicted as constructivists, and subsequently argue that constructivism is caught in an overly epistemic version of the subject/object dichotomy. We then introduce a genetic logic that is not based on the Hegelian dialectics of negation and mediation, but rather on the idea of the recursive consensual coordination of actions that give rise to stylized cultural practices. We argue that a genuinely genetic and generative psychology should be concerned with the multifarious and ever-changing nature of human “life” and not merely with the construction of knowledge about life. Relevance: The article deals with perceived “internal” problems of constructivist approaches and proposes a genetic and generative psychology that is centrally concerned with human life-as-lived and not merely with life-as-known. The article furthermore raises the question whether key thinkers like Vygotsky, Maturana and Varela and are adequately depicted as constructivists.