Constructionism, the gift that keeps on giving

I’ve just returned from Lithuania where I attended and spoke at the Constructionism 2018 conference. Constructionism is a term that Seymour Papert used to describe how learning happens. It extends the Piagetian idea that knowledge is constructed  inside the head of the learner, building on the existing knowledge and unique experiences of each learner. Papert added the idea that this knowledge construction is aided when the learner is involved in constructing personally meaningful things that can be shared with a community.  More than just “hands on” or project-based learning, constructionism can be a subtle thing to explain.

Eight Big Ideas poster
The Eight Big Ideas of Constructionism Poster (PDF)

In 1999, Seymour Papert embarked on his last ambitious institutional research project when he created the constructionist, technology-rich, multi-aged Constructionist Learning Laboratory inside of Maine’s troubled prison for teens, The Maine Youth Center. This project was the basis for Gary Stager’s dissertation. As Gary shares in our book, Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, Papert outlined “Eight Big Ideas” as a handout to help visitors understand constructionism as a living, practical approach to creating an optimal learning environment.

Over the last year, the Stanford University FabLearn Fellows have translated the Eight Big Ideas Behind the Constructionist Learning Laboratory into various languages. Thanks to some new friends at Constructionism 2018, we are now up to 11 translations of the original English text!

German, Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, Italian, Swahili, Catalan, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Korean, and Galician

Korean translators Ungyeol Jung and Doyong Kim said, “We have felt the power of learning by doing again through translation, because it helped us understand much more than before.”

Students in Mathias Wunderlich’s makerspace collaborated on the German translation with more enthusiasm than a school exercise because it connected with what they do everyday in the makerspace. Read more of this story here.

“Felix, Aaron, and Oskar do their very best to understand Papert’s ideas.”

If you’d like to add another language, please comment here!

Constructionism – the gift that keeps on giving!


Also published on Medium.

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