[IAEP] inquiry on constructionism advantages

Bill Kerr billkerr at gmail.com
Wed Sep 30 10:47:20 EDT 2009

On Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 2:21 AM, Yamandu Ploskonka <yamaplos at gmail.com>wrote:

> I have received an inquiry on implementing constructionism from a high
> official in the Bolivian government.
> Since my opinion may be biased :-), I request you help us with clear,
> simple and please objective answers (no vapor-stuff), if at all possible
> 1) How do constructionist pupils do on standardized tests, such as
> University entrance exams.  (please inform about other demographic
> situations besides children of highly trained scholars - most Bolivian
> kids do not fit THAT bracket, alas)
> 2) How do they do with usual classroom tests, especially in the
> University.
> Core question is, are alumni of constructionism better, or at least
> competitive there?  What evidence do we have to prove this?
> 3) Is there any evidence (objective, unbiased) as to the impact of
> constructionism in education?  The big maybe here is further impact on
> development, yes ? (I may be mistaken here, please correct)
> 4) any other solid, statistically valid data supporting constructionism
> Please avoid treatises - I will be presenting this this week, and if
> anyone would volunteer, it may be possible to put you directly in touch
> with this official and/or his staff.  It is, or should be widely known
> that I see the current conctructionist stance within OLPC and Sugar as a
> misguided, feel-good attempt that is bound to do more harm to most kids
> than good compared to what could be achieved with a solid
> curricular-content approach, but I honestly would be happier I were
> mistaken, if determined by solid evidence.
> I looooove constructionism, it just doesn't seem to me to be what kids
> need, and all in all, I wish it worked, but I cannot prove it does for
> most kids. I am certain, but cannot prove either, that it does work
> within classrooms with highly trained teachers, or for gifted kids, or
> when there is a lot of educated support from home, in any case not a
> basis to adopt it for a country like Bolivia.
> Yama


Some more thoughts here Yama about how well constructed exploratory tasks
using Turtle Art this time might achieve goals that can't be achieved by
that "solid curricular-content". This remark from one of my students, cited
at the end, was quite revealing:

"There were two ways to work out what values were needed in order to create
a shape which could change in size and still keep it's correct dimensions.
First was to use trial and error and we had to simply guess each value until
we got it correct. The other way was to use mathmetics and actually
calculate the values. I mostly used trial and error because i was too lazy
to do the maths but in the end i found that using maths i got a much more
accurate shape."

btw Bastien I think constructionists are not so much a "crowd" but more a
bunch of idiosyncratic individuals :-)
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