X-Message-Number: 19186
Date: Sat, 1 Jun 2002 09:17:49 -0700 (PDT)
From: Scott Badger <>
Subject: Re: Constructivism

Ron Havelock wrote in part:

..."What I find most pernicious about this so-called
constructivist theory is that it allows people pushing
virtually any agenda to claim that they have science
on their side, picking and choosing their facts and
breezily dismissing anything that doesn't fit.  This
is the opposite of true science which requires that
all empirically verifiable observations must be taken
into account, regardless of whether they support, 
fail to support, or manifestly contradict a theory.  I
hope that my fellow cryonicists are as committed as I
am to empirical science as the basis of our beliefs. 
There is no other path.  Our enemies and scoffers 
continually fail to realize or recognize that the core
group of cryonisists are committed to a scientific
view of the world."...

Your use of the word "constructivist" is bit different
from the way I see it applied here in the Department
of Science Education. I understand my colleagues to
mean that learning is enhanced for our students when
they construct scientific principles rather than
having them verbally transmitted. Instead of being
given the answer to a problem in advance through
lectures, then doing a lab confirming what the
professor already told them, our students (to a great
degree) are given a problem, then required to derive
the principle at work. No, they are not allowed to
ultimately arrive at the wrong answer, but the
learning tends to stick better when they're exposed to
an activity / experiment where the results are
consistent, yet counterintuitive. Misconceptions are
exposed and attacked through reflective judgement. 

BTW, the majority of these college students come to
the program needing serious remediation in science and
math. They don't know why we have seasons, why the
mooon has phases, etc, etc, etc.

Anyway, is there some connection between this
constructivism and that which you addressed in your
message? Because we try to teach our students how to
measure, collect, analyze and interpret empirical
data. We do not promote relativism which seems to be
what you're referring to. Am I right?

Scott Badger

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