Social constructivism Dewey & Vygotsky Pragmatism, Experience, school and society John Dewey (1859 – 1952) • American psychologist, philosopher, educator, social critic and political activist. In 1894 he became the chairman of the department of philosophy, psychology, and pedagogy at the University of Chicago. • Dewey taught at Columbia University from 1905 until he retired in 1929. During his years at Columbia he traveled the world as a philosopher, social and political theorist, and educational consultant. Among his major journeys are his lectures in Japan and China from 1919 to 1921, his visit to Turkey in 1924 to recommend educational policy, and a tour of schools in the USSR in 1928. Dewey • Of course, Dewey never ignored American social issues. He was outspoken on education, domestic and international politics, and numerous social movements. Among the many concerns that attracted Dewey's support were women's suffrage, progressive education, educator's rights, the Humanistic movement, and world peace. Behaviour vs experience Dewey laid the foundation for his concept of experience in 1896 with a groundbreaking article in which he criticized how the concept of the reflex arc concept in psychology(behaviorism) is used to interpret the relation between action and thinking. In this article Dewey argued against the notion that it is possible to analyse human action as a mechanical sequence. Dewey interpreted in the light of a need for innovation (Elkjaer 2009) • Pragmatism views subjects as future-oriented. • The consequence of this orientation towards the future is that knowledge is provisional because future experience may act as a corrective. • Dewey may be helpful for the creation of a learning theory that answers the cry for creativity and innovation that is in demand in contemporary knowledge societies. Problem and inquiry based learning as source of creativity and innovation (model: Knud Illeris 2009) accomodative Learner centred University Convergent Curriculum studies based thinking Project work Classroom teaching and instruction Task based Teacher centred assimilative Problem based Divergent thinking Pragmatism • In everyday language a pragmatist is a person focused on results and solutions to problems despite ideological and political differences. • It is future- oriented :What – if” • American pragmatism is situated in the optimisms of the promise of new life surrounding waves of immigration to the US at the end of the 19th century. Dewey and pragmatism • Inquiry is a method in which working hypotheses are generated through anticipatory (creative)imagination of consequences ( thus much more than trial and error) • Thinking (critical anticipation) is to use concepts and theories to solve a problem. The situation determines the choice of theories and concepts. Pragmatism a learning theory for the future ? • At the heart of Dewey´s thinking is the term ”experience” • Experience is according to Dewey associated with human beings´lives and living. • In Dewey´s terms , living is the continuous interaction between individuals and their environment. • Includes emotion, aesthetics and ethics as well as knowledge. School and society(Dewey) Experience and inquiry • The subject-worlds relation makes experience possible. • Experience is both the process of experiencing and the result of the process. • Inquiry ( or critical and reflective thinking) is an experimental method by which new experience may be had not only through action but also by using ideas and concepts, hypotheses and theories as tools to think with. Learning by experience Dewey ! Experience Traditional Dewey • Experience as knowledge • Knowledge as a subset of experience • Experience as both subjective and objective(weaving) • Experience as future oriented (what-if) • Experience as united experiences(organic circles) • Experience as subjective • Experience as oriented to the past • Experience as isolated experiences • Experience as action • Experience as encompassing theories and concepts and as such a foundation for knowledge. Experience as culture • Dewey was aware that his use of experience was similar to the concept of culture (also a term with many definitions). • The term practice might be preferred today. • (cf Lave, Bourdieu) What is missing ? • Deweyan philosophy is insufficient today to describe how power is a key to understanding how learning is also a matter of access to participation in educational activities and to being able to respond to challenges ( Biesta 2006) Vygotsky biography • Although Vygotsky was never popular within the Sovjet system his teory, however, is firmly embedded in its ideals. • Vygotsky was Jewish-Russian(limited acces to university etc). • Vygotsky´s interests belonged to the humanities and social sciences, e.g. philosophy, literature & art ( contrast to Piaget, but similar to Dewey) Vygotsky biography • Contrary to expectations he was admitted to Moscow University (enrolled by draw) • Admitted to medical school – changed to law and graduated in history & philosophy from private university as well as M.U. • In philosophy Vygotsky looked for an alternative to Cartesian dualism • Position at teachers´college and delivered first lectures in psychology Vygotsky biogaphy • Psychcology of Art (Ph.d)(1925) • The title shows that for Vygotsky psychology was a method of uncovering the origins of higher forms of human consciousness and emotional life rather than of elementary behavioral acts. • Psychology cannot limit itself to direct evidence. Psychology must take into account indirect evidence and circumstantial clues. Vygotsky • 1924 Vygotsky challenged the Russian behaviorists (Pavlov) (cf Dewey) • Vygotsky ( with Luria) started a programme for nonreflexological scientific psychology. It had to solve the problem of interrelation of higher and lower elementary functions. He wanted to over the split between naturalist and idealist worldviews. Vygotsky´s main concepts • Socially meaningful activity became the main explanatory principle. • Individual consciousness is built from the outside through relations with others. • Human higher mental functions are products of mediated activity.(tools)and interpersonal relations. Vygotsky´s idea of ”development” • Development & cultural history • Vygotsky uses the concept of development with reference to Marx & Hegel according to which the essence could only be understood through a study of its origin and history • Development both applies to the individual and the cultural-historical evolution.( contrary to ideas of maturation). • Psychological development is a dynamic process full of upheavals , sudden changes and reversals. The human condition is based in social interactions. • Vygotsky suggests that it is the ability to develop cooperative activity through complex social relationships that separate mature humans from all other animals. • Dewey also thinks that human beings are born social creatures and develop their sense of self through relationships. • The main difference lies in how much power the individual has over future social activities. Conceptualization of experience/culture Dewey • Experience is helping to form thinking Vygotsky • Culture is the raw material of thinking • Social history creates tools that are of use in present circumstances • Tools developed through history have a lasting impact on the social community Dewey, tools and long term projects • Dewey posits diversity as an important aspect of educational experience ( diversity as a tool) • He thinks that environments with a high level of agreement between subjects are not beneficial, because they do not engage in free inquiry and this leads to narrow-mindedness. • He ( like Vygotsky)sees progress in a equilibration/disequilibration process. The state of disequilibration represents a need. Disturbed equilibration drives exploration of new ideas. Bottom – up or top-down • The social is of primary influence in the life of the individual. Society has a vested interest in the development and maintenance of tools. • Dewey wants to educate the individual and diversify the social milieu (bottom-up) • Vygotsky wants to use the educational process to teach new members of the social community how to use culturally developed tools (top-down) Two educational models long-term projects and Zone of proximal Development Dewey • ”Long-term projects” • Children are immersed in everyday activity. children will work on a topic that is of interest to them. The topic need not be of any relevance to the demands of the larger social community. The teachers should act as facilitators. The free inquiry must be based on the Children´s own goals. The children learn that they are responsible for inquiry in their lives and they determine what goals are important. Vygotsky • ”Zone of proximal development” • Adults as representatives of society mentor children in specific culturally appropriate activity. The role of the educational process is to prepare children for more complex activity in the larger social community The role of teachers Dewey • Are teachers supposed to have the role as facilitators who step back from children´s activity and let it run its own course ? Vygotsky • Are teachers supposed to approach students as mentors who guide or direct activity ? Collaborative learning • Dewey & Vygotsky • What principles could be deduced from social constructivism and social learning ?