Volume 6 · Number 1 · Pages 112–119

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Consequences of Rejecting Constructivism: “Hold Tight and Pedal Fast”. Commentary on Slezak’s “Radical Constructivism: Epistemology, Education and Dynamite”

Leslie P. Steffe

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Purpose: One of my goals in the paper is to investigate why realists reject radical constructivism (RC) as well as social constructivism (SC) out of hand. I shall do this by means of commenting on Peter Slezak’s critical paper, Radical Constructivism: Epistemology, Education and Dynamite. My other goal is to explore why realists condemn the use of RC and SC in science and mathematics education for no stated reason, again by means of commenting on Slezak’s paper. Method: I restrict my comments to Slezak’s paper and leave it to the reader to judge which, if any, of the reasons that I advance for these two states of affairs are not specific to Slezak’s paper. Other readers might not agree with my interpretations of Slezak’s paper, including Slezak himself, but I offer them after having worked with von Glasersfeld in interdisciplinary research in mathematics education for over 25 years. Findings: My findings are that Slezak: (1) rejects RC and SC on the basis of unjustified criticisms, (2) does not explore basic tenets of RC nor of SC beyond the unjustified criticisms, (3) rejects how SC and RC have been used in science and mathematics education, based at least in part on the unjustified criticisms, (3) dislikes how SC has been used in science and mathematics education, a dislike that fuels his rejection of any constructivism, and (4) doesn’t explore how RC has been used in scientific investigations in mathematics education. On the basis of these findings, I conclude that how epistemological models of knowing might be used in science or mathematics education would be better left to the educators who use them in interdisciplinary work.

Key words: idealism, experiential reality, constraints, interaction, adaptation, first-order models, second-order models, scheme, self-reflexivity


Steffe L. P. (2010) Consequences of rejecting constructivism: “hold tight and pedal fast”. Commentary on slezak’s “radical constructivism: Epistemology, education and dynamite”. Constructivist Foundations 6(1): 112–119. http://constructivist.info/6/1/112

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