Has Constructivism Increased Special Education Enrollment in Public Schools?AND SEE:
As a teacher and administrator for 28 years, I rebelled against the disastrous fad of constructivism that began in the 1980’s. While its drumbeaters declared it was a higher form of intellectualism, it didn’t seem all that “intelligent” to me. Frankly, I thought it would help create failures among all groups of students—regular, special, and gifted.
For those who don’t know what “constructivism” is, it is an educational theory that, in practice, looks like this in America’s classrooms:
It is students from kindergarten through high school “discovering” their own answers by using manipulatives, working in groups, contriving “real world” problems through “project-based’ activities, moving and talking –a lot, and surviving in a hierarchy of those students who can lead and those who must follow according to their skills.
It is lots of colorful, jazzy pictures in books and on classroom walls that show many different ethnic groups, women, with gender-neutral stories, and with child-directed activities that only require teacher “facilitation.” Children rule the day.
It is feminized instruction that supports the goal of public education to provide egalitarianism or equity, especially to girls and minorities. That’s the priority placed over building excellence, since excellence smacks of cognitive exceptionalism. That ability is not appreciated nor encouraged where equity is to be the norm in classrooms.
It ridicules practice and repetition as “drill and kill” and believes anything that requires memorization is a waste of time that should be used for “creative” thinking.
It focuses on process, not results. “Process” is the actual “product” of learning.
It believes that if students are having fun, according to perceived “learning styles,” they will like going to school and they will learn the academics they need to prepare for the world of work.
No one will ever be able to determine how many hundreds of thousands of children, who came from dysfunctional, even chaotic, home environments and who entered the constructivist classroom with its lack of boundaries, no right or wrong answers, and the expectation to “discover” their own answers, were shuffled from the “feel-good, tolerant, and fun system” into special education programs. For some strange reason, these kids were declared “discipline” problems.
Mathematics Education: Outwitted by Stupidity by Barry Garelick
Growth of Special Education Spending and Enrollment in New York since 2000-01