Purpose: Appreciating the relationship between Sylvio Ceccato and Ernst von Glasersfeld, both as people and in their work. Approach: historical and personal accounts, archeological approach to written evidence. Findings: Ceccato’s work is introduced to an English speaking audience, and the roots of Glasersfeld’s work in Ceccato’s is explored. Flaws in Ceccato’s approach are indicated, together with how Glasersfeld’s work overcomes these, specially in language and automatic translation, and what became Radical Constructivism. Conclusion: Glasersfeld willingly acknowledges Ceccato, who he still refers to as the Master. But Ceccato’s work is little known, specially in the English speaking world. The introduction, critique and delineation of extension and resolution of Ceccato’s ideas in Glasersfeld’s work is the intended value of the paper.
We propose a methodological framework for developing and communicating academic knowledge relevant for practice: the dialogical model. This model of engaged scholarship comprises five activities: specifying a research question, elaborating local knowledge, developing conceptual knowledge, communicating knowledge, and activating knowledge. The current article focuses on the early stage of research question design and presents the epistemological framework in which the model was initially developed. It also offers guidance on how to maintain academic value and practical relevance in tension throughout the research process. Examples illustrate how to construct research questions relevant both for academia and practice, and how to justify validity in pragmatic constructivism. This model can likewise be mobilized in other epistemological frameworks, particularly for knowledge generation purposes. It enriches the researchers’ methodological toolbox by adding a new procedural tool that provides valuable guidelines from the very start of research projects. Relevance: The first part of this article is dedicated to presenting and discussing what internal validity, external validity, and reliability mean specifically in pragmatic constructivism, which is another name for radical constructivism. This naming is consistent with the radical constructivist view of the relationship between knowledge and action, and has the advantage of being free from all the misinterpretations associated with the term “radical.”
Open peer commentary on the article “Constructivism as a Key Towards Further Understanding of Communication, Culture and Society” by Raivo Palmaru. Upshot: In my response to Palmaru, I press for a reflexive, accountable and, most of all, practical construction of radical constructivism as participatory communication.
Radical constructivism grows out of the belief that knowledge is constructed and legitimated by individuals as they make sense of their experiences in particular contexts and drawing on their own histories. Extending this understanding of learning and ways of knowing to girls as they work in the terrain of science, we argue that honoring student experience as the starting place for science instruction fundamentally alters the nature of science, the purpose of teaching and learning science, and the focus of relationships in science class. The implications for this position are extensive: they suggest that the dynamic relationships between language and cultural background of students and teachers alter the ways in which science education historically has enacted discipline, curriculum and pedagogy. We argue that this is particularly important to understand, for science and science education have historically operated within the masculine domain and working with girls in science in ways that respect their (gendered and cultural) construction of knowledge and their experiences, fundamentally alters the enterprise of science – an idea contradictory to most visions of the purposes of education and current reform efforts in science education, even the most liberal.
Context: During the 1980s, Ernst von Glasersfeld’s reflections nourished various studies conducted by a community of mathematics education researchers at CIRADE, Quebec, Canada. Problem: What are his influence on and contributions to the center’s rich climate of development? We discuss the fecundity of von Glasersfeld’s ideas for the CIRADE researchers’ community, specifically in didactique des mathématiques. Furthermore, we take a prospective view and address some challenges that new, post-CIRADE mathematics education researchers are confronted with that are related to interpretations of and reactions to constructivism by the surrounding community. Results: Von Glasersfeld’s contribution still continues today, with a new generation of researchers in mathematics education that have inherited views and ideas related to constructivism. For the post-CIRADE research community, the concepts and epistemology that von Glasersfeld put forward still need to be developed further, in particular concepts such as subjectivity, viability, the circular interpretative effect, representations, the nature of knowing, errors, and reality. Implications: Radical constructivism’s offspring resides within the concepts and epistemology put forth, and that continue to be put forth, through a large number of new and different generations of theories, thereby perpetuating von Glasersfeld’s legacy.
In this paper, the author has discussed the epistemological and the pedagogical dilemma he faced in the past and that he is still facing within radical and social constructivist paradigms. He built up an understanding of radical constructivism from the works of Ernst von Glasersfeld and social constructivism from the works of Paul Ernest. He introduced the notion of constructivism including both radical constructivism and social constructivism in brief. Then he reconceptualized these forms of constructivism in terms of epistemological and pedagogical motivation leading to a dilemma. He emphasized how the dilemma within these paradigms might impact one’s actions and how resolving this dilemma leads to eclecticism. He summarized that one paradigm world does not function well in the context of teaching and learning of mathematics (and science). Finally, he concluded the dilemma issue with epistemological and pedagogical eclecticism.
Open peer commentary on the target article “Arguments Opposing the Radicalism of Radical Constructivism” by Gernot Saalmann. First paragraph: I appreciate Saalmann’s recognition that “there are considerable differences amongst the authors” and that these “have changed their opinions in the course of time” (§3); but given this, what are the consequences for an outline of the theses of radical constructivism (RC)? Which approach is best for outlining a theory of knowing under these hindering conditions? My suggestion would be to use a method specifically developed for this kind of situation and to present it explicitly, or, if it does not yet exist, to develop one.
Open peer commentary on the target article “Who Conceives of Society?” by Ernst von Glasersfeld. First paragraph: Issues such as social interaction and communication play an essential role in my recent approach to knowledge management called “Knowledge Cooperation”, conceived as “the participative cultivation of knowledge in a voluntary, informal social group”. Radical Constructivism (RC) provides a substantial support to the foundations of this approach, which aims at equilibrating intellectual and social capital. So I warmly welcome Ernst von Glasersfeld’s clarification of the constructivist position in regard to “society.”
Context: Meeting Ernst von Glasersfeld for the first time in 1985, when about 70% of his work had still to be conceived, written and published, was a great stroke of fortune for me; it was based on my collaboration with Silvio Ceccato that had started in 1981 and it profoundly influenced my contributions to radical constructivism in the following 25 years of our friendship. Problem: Presenting the details of how it all began can shed a light on the development of constructivist ideas. Method: Anecdotes from 1979 to 1985 about how I came to meet Silvio Ceccato in Milan in 1981 and the influence of these events on preparing the 1985 meeting with Ernst von Glasersfeld, also in Milan. Results: The article describes the timeline of 50 years of publications by von Glasersfeld, an anecdote about a connection between Ceccato and the University of Zurich in the 60s, the attempt to present Ceccato’s ideas as compatible and complementary with the neuroscience discourse in 1985, von Glasersfeld’s opinion about this attempt, and this attempt’s potential influence on the emergence of a new concept in neuroscience, “EEG microstates.” Implications: The events and facts reported in the article help us to understand some aspects of an early phase in the development of radical constructivism, especially the relationship between Ceccato, von Glasersfeld and other members of the Italian Operational School such as Bruna Zonta, Felice Accame, and the author himself.
Context: The discipline of knowledge management (KM) begins to understand a) that it should move towards a user-centred, socialized KM and b) which business objectives provide motivation to do so. However, it lacks ideas on how to reach the objective that it suggests and justifies. We contend in this paper that this change requires a more viable understanding of knowledge combined with a suitable model of social interaction, otherwise it will fail. Problem: The problem to be solved is to find a way to blend a model of social interaction and a suitable understanding of knowledge so that together they can contribute to the objective of implementing a “user-centred KM.” In this paper we show a solution articulated in several conceptual and experimental components and phases. Method: We use a systemic and cybernetic approach: systemic analysis of the problem, conception of a cybernetic approach, design of a systemic solution, and its evaluation in an experiment. The main methods used are systems engineering, cybernetic modelling, and knowledge engineering. Results: We propose seven interrelated results: 1. A defect analysis of KM; 2. The concept of knowledge as the “Logic of Experience”; 3. A set of five KM design principles; 4. The principle of “Knowledge Identity”; 5. The model of “Knowledge Cooperation”; 6. The architecture of a user-centred KM system; and 7. Insights from a KM experiment. Implications: Our results are useful for any stakeholder in today’s knowledge economy when they need to understand, design, build, nurture and support an organization’s capacity to learn and innovate for the benefit not only of the company’s financial owners but also of the individuals who work in it. Future research should urgently address the issues of “knowledge identity” and the “knowledge contract” and KM practice should design its next steps for moving towards a user-centred KM in conformity with the principle of “knowledge identity.” The paper links explicitly to radical constructivism and argues in favour of a radical constructivist foundation for KM in which knowledge is seen as the “Logic of Experience.” It also shows how this KM foundation can be extended with a social perspective and by that allow the individual and the social to be conceived of as complementary elements in one single KM system.