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Teaching for Construction of Knowledge

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Teaching for Construction of Knowledge: In the constructivist perspective, learning is a process of the construction of knowledge. Learn...

Teaching for Construction of Knowledge:

In the constructivist perspective, learning is a process of the construction of knowledge. Learners actively construct their own knowledge by connecting new ideas to existing ideas on the basis of materials/activities presented to them (experience). For example, using a text or a set of pictures/visuals on a transport system coupled with discussions will allow young learners to be facilitated to construct the idea of a transport system. Initial construction (mental representation) may be based on the idea of the road transport system, and a child from a remote rural setting may form the idea centred around the bullock cart. Learners construct mental representations (images) of external reality (transport system) through a given set of activities (experiences). The structuring and restructuring of ideas are essential features as the learners progress in learning. For instance, the initial idea of a transport system built around road transport will be reconstructed to accommodate other types of transport systems—sea and air—using appropriate activities. The engagement of learners, through relevant activities, can further facilitate in the construction of mental images of the relationships (cause-effect) between a transport system and human life/economy. However, there is a social aspect in the construction process in the sense that knowledge needed for a complex task can reside in a group situation. In this context, collaborative learning provides room for negotiation of meaning, sharing of multiple views and changing the internal representation of the external reality. Construction indicates that each learner individually and socially constructs meaning as he/she learns. Constructing meaning is learning. The constructivist perspective provides strategies for promoting learning by all. 

The teacher's own role in children’s cognition could be enhanced if they assume a more active role in relation to the process of knowledge construction in which children are engaged. A child constructs her/his knowledge while engaged in the process of learning. Allowing children to ask questions that require them to relate what they are learning in school to things happening outside, encouraging children to answer in their own words and from their own experiences, rather than simply memorising and getting answers right in just one way — all these are small but important steps in helping children develop their understanding. ‘Intelligent guessing’ must be encouraged as a valid pedagogic tool. Quite often, children have an idea arising from their everyday experiences, or because of their exposure to the media, but they are not quite ready to articulate it in ways that a teacher might appreciate. It is in this ‘zone’ between what you know and what you almost know that new knowledge is constructed. Such knowledge often takes the form of skills, which are cultivated outside the school, at home or in the community. All such forms of knowledge and skills must be respected. A sensitive and informed teacher is aware of this and is able to engage children through well-chosen tasks and questions, so that they are able to realise their developmental potential. 

Active engagement involves enquiry, exploration, questioning, debates, application and reflection, leading to theory building and the creation of ideas/positions. Schools must provide opportunities to question, enquire, debate, reflect, and arrive at concepts or create new ideas. An element of challenge is critical for the process of active engagement and learning various concepts, skills and positions through the process. What is challenging for a particular age group becomes easy and uninteresting for the other age group, and may be remote and uninteresting at another stage. 

So often, in the name of ‘objectivity’, teachers sacrifice flexibility and creativity. Very often teachers, in government as well as private schools, insist that all children must give identical answers to questions. The argument given for not accepting other answers is that, “They cannot give answers that are not there in the textbook.” “We discussed it in the staffroom and decided that we will only accept this answer as right!”, or that “There will be too many types of answers. Then should we accept them all?” Such arguments make a travesty of the meaning of learning and only serve to convince children and parents that schools are irrationally rigid. We must ask ourselves why we only ask children to give answers to questions. Even the ability to make a set of questions for given answers is a valid test of learning



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CLEAR CTET: Teaching for Construction of Knowledge
Teaching for Construction of Knowledge
CLEAR CTET
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