Journal for Language Teaching

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Critical Constructivism and Language Teaching: New Wine in New Bottles

Timothy Reagan


The traditional craft of the teacher can be rescued and strengthened by understanding the connection between the content area of the curriculum and how it will be understood by the student. Understanding this connection involves recognizing the cultural pattern of thought (the episteme) that underlies the organization of knowledge in the curriculum unit as well as the phenomenological world of the student. The latter is essential for grasping what the student is likely to understand and how that understanding will be integrated into the student's pattern of thinking. (C.A. Bowers (1984: 78) Constructivism is very much in vogue at the present time. Indeed, constructivism has taken on the force of a slogan in many educational circles – a slogan that, like “student-centered curriculum,” “reflective practice,” and “learning by doing,” has become so commonplace as to inhibit rather than promote clear thinking about teaching and learning. Its popularity has also resulted in something of an intellectual backlash, demonstrated perhaps most clearly in Michael Devitt's assertion that it is “the most dangerous contemporary intellectual tendency” as well as in efforts to link constructivism with other postmodern challenges to science and rationality.

(J Language Teaching: 2003 37(1): 120-141)
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