Constructing knowledge the child's way

Constructing knowledge the child's way

Hands on' is a very effective way of teaching/learning that includes reasoning and retaining emotional balance. Along with, if the child is made to construct knowledge with his prior experience, it is a long lasting method of learning. There is a phenomenal shift from teaching to learning today, wherein teaching aids have given way to learning aids. Learning aids are those which are in the child’s reach, inexpensive, child friendly, attractive and goal oriented. 

With ample learning materials, the child explores, proves, and gets satisfied with his or her understanding of things. How to bring about effective learning using the learning aids focusing on the concept under study?

Earlier, a teacher used to explain the concept of sizes using graded beads, boxes, books, and pencils , conceptually putting forth the idea of small / big, arranging them as per the size, and giving them illustrations. But now, the teacher being a facilitator only asks the child to pick up a few things. For example, books, pencils, crayons, building blocks etc (of their own choice) and keep them on the desk / ground in front of them and arrange in the way they like. Therein, the child constructs to himself the concept of size, gradation in size, and how to arrange and the underlying concept.

The teacher reinforces the concept drawing the attention of the class to each one’s way of display and arrangement. Here the child is active, involved and constructs knowledge. When much of thinking has gone into the child’s head while arranging things, the very concept has made a niche in his memory cells. As it is a play way method of learning, the load of knowledge is borne with pleasure. It is ready for recall, reform and use at any instant of time at a later stage.

Constructivism is the new technique wherein the child becomes a sculptor and lays his hands on the raw materials (required), and makes a beautiful sculpture. It is forever with him to cherish. As it is his own, he has the proprietary over it.

Constructivism helps children in creative expression. Each one constructs knowledge in his own pace and method. It makes the teacher aware of the individual differences existing among the children, and helps him/her to plan for different activities catering to their differing abilities.

What is the role of the teacher, parents or the society in this approach then? They all act as facilitators, provide learning materials, create situations and most importantly give orientation. If the child fails to construct knowledge at his own level, the facilitator guides and lends a participation in constructing knowledge.

Here the facilitator has to do more homework in setting up the situation, creating an atmosphere, procuring the required materials, and planning where and how to conduct the activity. The concept to be constructed must be very clear in his mind and all the actions and instructions must be goal-oriented. Otherwise, the classroom becomes a mob instead of a group. Apart from not bringing about learning, class control and discipline are at stake. So, by constructivist approach the child becomes less burdened. In turn, he / she will prepare himself / herself to learn more and more in short time and conceptually.

(The writer is a teacher in Kendriya Vidyalaya, Hassan)

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