Teaching History And Geography In The Constructivist Classroom

1464 words - 6 pages

In most curricular areas the curriculum has become strict rules that need to be adhered to. The constructivist approach brings a new light to a child’s learning experience with the focus being on practical interactive learning. Children often experience this type on learning before they reach primary school. For example when a child encounters a jigsaw they are not just shown on a whiteboard how to finish the jigsaw, the child is guided by an instructor through hands on experience. The child learns techniques to then complete a jigsaw by themselves and will move on to complete more complicated jigsaws with time. Education should not be focused on day to day learning but more focused on life-long learning and experiences. Adopting the constructivist approach in the classroom especially through the subjects of history and geography is essential for children to reach their full learning potential.

We must first look at the need for a constructivist approach in a classroom, to do this we think back to our days in primary school and indeed secondary school where textbooks we like bibles. We were told to take out our books, look at the board, and now complete the exercise on page z. This approach in a class is repetitive, the teacher holds authoritarian power and learning is by no means interactive. “In a traditional classroom, an invisible and imposing, at times, impenetrable, barrier between student and teacher exists through power and practice. In a constructivist classroom, by contrast, the teacher and the student share responsibility and decision making and demonstrate mutual respect.” (Wineburg, 2001) This approach focuses on basic skills and strict adherence to the curriculum. Children are being forced to learn through repetition and this approach does not facilitate differentiation in anyway. The teacher then becomes a dictator rather than a facilitator. Yes there are strong forces that lead teachers to use the history and geography textbooks like parents but the teacher must remember that the child needs to learn, experience and interact with the historical foundations. “History develops an understanding of the actions, beliefs and motivations of people in the past and is fundamental to an informed appreciation of contemporary society and environments.” (Primary School Curriculum: History Introduction p. 3.) But what does this mean and how can it be achieved? “By exploring the changes which have occurred and elements which have remained unchanged in their own lives, in the lives of their families and friends, and in their homes and immediate environments, children begin to appreciate the existence of times different from their own. Their historical understanding is enriched” (Primary School Curriculum: History, Introduction. P.7)
The constructivist approach caters for these needs and rights of the child. Before applying the constructivist approach to the classroom, one must first understand what this approach is. According to Piaget a...

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