Monday, October 1, 2012

Constructivist Intentions: Meaningful Experiences

Within the constructivist paradigm, there is an emphasis on the learner rather than teacher or facilitator. Constructivism tells us that the learner uses her or his environment to gain an understanding of concepts. At DCM, learner is translated to our audience—children 0 to 10 years of age and their caregivers. Meaningful interactions with exhibits that draw on a child’s interest and curiosity can lead to an environment more conducive to learning.  

In exhibit neighborhoods, the scientific method is constantly at play. Children are observing, predicting, experimenting and making conclusions with every interaction. The predictions and conclusions are difficult to see with a cursory look, yet we can see evidence of this when a child changes the way they interact with an exhibit through repeated experiences. Often, without a word spoken, new conclusions are drawn that are based upon previous experiences. When language is added and play is facilitated by an adult-child partnership, learning also promotes a literacy component that will develop a child’s language acquisition, definition and use of words. Whether guided or immersed in an environment that is prepared for learning, children can make connections that will benefit future learning.

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