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.
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.
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.
This paper aims to characterize the “operative constructivism” of Niklas Luhmann from a comparison with two other streams of epistemological constructivism: Piaget-inspired constructivism and radical constructivism. This comparison focuses on three topics: the characterization of the active role of the epistemic subject; the problem of the status of knowledge and its relation to reality; and the problem of the origin of conceptual meaning and the individual-society relationship. Based on these characterizations, it is evaluated in what respects the constructivist program of Luhmann diverges or converges with the other two schools of epistemological constructivism.
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.”