Play and Inquiry in early Childhood Education
Date of Submission: 26 September 2012
Constructivism is a way of thinking that every individual has the innate drive to understand the world around him. Constructivism states that there are active engagement on the part of the learner in constructing his knowledge and accommodating the new set of information into the old ones. Kerka (1997, cited in the study guide, SU3-10) states the theory of constructivism rests on the notion that there is an innate human drive to make sense of the world. Kerka continues to state that learners construct knowledge by integrating new information new information and experiences into what they had previously come to understand. For example, when we encounter something new, we have to reconcile it with our previous ideas and experience, maybe changing what we believe, or maybe discarding the new information as irrelevant. In any case, we are active creators of our own knowledge.
However, constructivism does not dismiss the notion of expert reference. In any learning environment, there must be an expert figure to justify what has been learnt. With a more abled child or and adult to facilitate, a child could be encouraged to achieve a different level of learning. Hughes (2010) cited Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Distance to describe the importance of an expert figure in a constructivist environment (p. 30). Instead of providing new information passively, this expert figure takes on a role of facilitator that guides and path the way for active learning to take place. This is true especially in the context of children’s learning. As stated by Gordon (2009), constructivism is a powerful tool for teachers to explain about children’s learning. Children are encouraged to use the ‘given’ environment to develop the process of understanding of what they are curious about.
Children are natural problem posers. Constructivism captures this innate yearning by setting up an environment that encourages and pushes this drive to explore and investigate. Constructivism also allows children ample time to discover. As it is basically a learning theory, there are no sets of restricted timing for children to construct knowledge. This compliments out current principle of early education, iTEACH. In ITEACH, ample opportunities are important to promote learning. Definitely time will not be a hindrance towards a child’s learning experience.
Children often start their school journey with formulated knowledge, ideas and understanding. In a constructivist classroom, they will integrate new experiences to develop their own personal meaning with the prior knowledge. Children absorb information through actively engaging themselves in inquiry-based activities. Teacher should allow children to experiment, manipulate objects and ask questions. This innate curiosity must always be encouraged even though teachers are aware that things would not work. Only when allowed to make ‘mistakes’ will children learn to reflect and explore further. The child initiated learning in a constructivist classroom also encourages collaboration among learners. By owning the learning process, children’s knowledge will evolve. They problem solve and make modifications to support new knowledge or experiences.
Haidah bte Mohammed Yusoff
A constructivist classroom is seen as the best for children to learn how to learn. A constructivist teacher constantly assesses how the activity is helping children gain understanding. Below are four activities that are geared to inculcate active learning in children.
Creating Secondary Colours
At the creative Corner, a teacher provides only primary colours of red, blue and yellow. Children are given choices on the topic that they want to draw. On the wall at the centre, teacher displays pictures that contain...