Public education is characterized by tension between the goals of enlightening individuals and improving society. In the United States, the emphasis has been on individual needs. We design lessons which respect for child as a maker of meaning. We teach to individual learning styles and are concerned that the curriculum "make sense." Given an ideology which sees the individual as the source of economic and political welfare, we comfortably focus on their intellectual and personal growth and call it “constructivism”. At other times, education for social responsibility took priority. During economic depressions, wars and civic strife, we taught children to work together to build our country, save it, or improve it. We developed curriculum around social problems, engaged students in community service, and called it "reconstructionism". America is having growing pains. We are in a time of great cultural change. The world has grown smaller To avoid the twin dangers of reactionism social instability, the debate must be resolved. Faced with polarization and growing conflict, educators must find a way to join the goal of social cohesion and improvement to the understanding that learning is essentially an idiosyncratic process of individual change. We cannot let reactionary voices who boldly confront the ethical and intellectual vacua in our public schools dictate our direction. Nor can we continue to subborn watered down political and social "neutrality" and confused relativism. The authors will discuss the conditions endangering our nation’s social fabric and its schools and breech the dichotomy between constructivism and reconstructionism, linking individual consciousness to social cohesion. We will illustrate how we translate theory into practice as teacher educators, committed both to our students' individual enlightenment and their ultimate global citizenship.
Breithorde, M., & Swiniarski, L. (1999). Constructivism and Reconstructionism: Educating teachers for world citizenship. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 24(1). https://doi.org/10.14221/ajte.1999v24n1.1