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Von Glasersfeld's radical constructivism: Assertions, criticisms and implications

Hardy, M.D. and Taylor, P.C. (1995) Von Glasersfeld's radical constructivism: Assertions, criticisms and implications. In: 3rd International Conference on the History and Philosophy of Science Teaching, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis



We explore Ernst von Glasersfeld’s radical constructivism, its criticisms, and our own thoughts on what it promises for the reform of science and mathematics teaching. Our investigation reveals that many criticisms of radical constructivism are unwarranted; nevertheless, in its current cognitivist form radical constructivism may be insufficient to empower teachers to overcome objectivist cultural traditions. Teachers need to be empowered with rich understandings of philosophies of science and mathematics that endorse relativist epistemologies; for without such they are unlikely to be prepared to reconstruct their pedagogical practices. More importantly, however, is a need for a powerful social epistemology to serve as a referent for regenerating the culture of science education. We recommend blending radical constructivism with Habermas’ 'theory of communicative action' to provide science teachers with a moral imperative for adopting a constructivist epistemology.

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