Reconstructionism Theory By: Paula Wiederhold
Reconstructionism • Reconstructionist thinkers have been some of the greatest contributors to learning • Concepts such as multiple intelligences or alternative learning procedures have come from Reconstructionism • Is the changing of society, education, and the use of educational methods to make a social change • It is less authoritarian
Theodore Brameld • This philosophy was founded by Theodore Brameld (1904-1987), in reaction to WWII He recognized the potential for either human annihilation through technology and human cruelty or the capacity to create a beneficent society using technology and human compassion. • Learning should take place both in and out of the classroom . According to Brameld, ‘the wheel’ curriculum should be the central core of the school program.
Roles of teacher • Teachers need to incorporate world issues into his/her teachings • Teachers are essential in informing the students of the problems, giving possible solutions, and assisting the students in trying to solve possible issues • Teachers need to motivate students to use their education to help solve the problems of society • Teachers explore social problems, suggest alternate perspectives, and facilitate student analysis of these problems
Roles of the student • It places the learner at the center of the educational process • Students must select educational objectives and social priorities • Students experience and take social action on real problems such as: • violence, hunger, international terrorism, inflation, inequality, racism, sexism, environmental pollution, homelessness, poverty, substance abuse, homophobia, AIDS, and etc.
Roles of the school • Students and teachers are expected to live and learn in a democratic culture • Students and teachers work together on determining what should be learned and how best to learn it • School is not seen as an institution that controls and directs youth, or works to preserve and transmit the core culture, but as an institution that works with youth to improve society or help students realize their individuality
Purpose of Education • It encourages schools, teachers, and students to focus their studies and energies on alleviating pervasive social inequities, and as the name implies, reconstruct society into a new and more just social order. • It is more focused on individual needs, contemporary relevance, and preparing students for a changing future.
Influences on Curriculum • Reconstructionists believe that the curriculum should emphasize truth, fellowship, and justice. They believe in incorporating world issues and stepping outside local community ideas.
An example of Influences on the curriculum… • A research project is more than an academic exercise; the class is engaged in a genuine effort to improve society • The class might arrange to meet with political leaders, encouraging them to create programs or legislation to respond to issues the students uncovered • The students might seek a pro bono attorney to initiate legal action to remedy a social injustice they unmasked • The students might take their findings directly to the media by holding a press conference • The students might create a Web page to share their findings and research methods with students in other parts of the country, or other parts of the world.
Another example of Influences on Curriculum • A class might read a book and visit a photojournalist's exhibit portraying violent acts of racism • If the book, exhibit and the class discussion that follows move the students, the class might choose to pursue a long-term project to investigate the problem • One group of students might analyze news coverage of racial and ethnic groups in the community • Another student group might conduct a survey analyzing community perceptions of racial groups and race relations • Students might visit city hall and examine arrest and trial records in order to determine the role race plays in differential application of the law • Students might examine government records for information about housing patterns, income levels, graduation rates and other relevant statistics
Curriculum as Experience • “Rather than ‘teaching as banking’ in which the educator deposits information into students' heads, teaching and learning should be a process of inquiry in which the child must invent and reinvent the world.”
Historical Context • The Reconstructionist theory emerged during the 1940’s. • It is still prevalent in today’s educational settings • The goal is to challenge all learners to construct their own schema and then to build on it
Content Standards • Ohio Academic Content Standards • High School • Strand: Government • Topic: Civic Participation and Skills • Topic Description: Civic participation embraces the ideal that an individual actively engages in his or her community, state or nation for the common good. Students need to practice effective communication skills including negotiation, compromise and collaboration. Skills in accessing and analyzing information are essential for citizens in a democracy.
Discussion Questions • What are some examples that you think a Reconstructionism philosophy could be implemented in the classroom? • Can you identify with a Reconstructionism philosophy? In what ways? • Where’s the chair? Realism or Idealism?
References • http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Student_Centered/?page=4 • http://education.ohio.gov/GD/Templates/Pages/ODE/ODEDetail.aspx?Page=3&TopicRelationID=1706&Content=128203 • http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/ed416/PP3.html • http://pangea.tec.selu.edu/~swoodson/edf607/reconstructionism.pdf • http://suite101.com/article/a-critique-on-reconstructionism-a25078