Von Glasersfeld's answers
July 2000

 
 

 

 

 

 

QUESTION 1

From: "Merrill Baylor" <mhbaylor@ptd.net>
Subject: Thank you

Dear Dr. Von Glasersfeld, I am a doctoral student at Rutgers University (at age 52) and I, too, am trying to "construct" my understanding of constructivism in mathematics education. I just want to say thank you for your wonderful articles and chapters in various books that I have read, in which you carefully communicate for your readers your understanding of Piaget and constructivism. I read on this website that just before a presentation you were to make that you were notified that someone close to you had passed away before you had time to thank them for all they had given to you. I didn't want any more time to go by before I had thanked you for writing your thoughtful ideas, which in turn have helped me to be a better teacher of mathematics to young children. Best regards,

(Mrs.) Merrill Baylor

 

Dear Mrs. Baylor,

I was profoundly moved by your message and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you said and even more for saying it now. It is rare that an author gets such spontaneous personal confirmation that what he has written was indeed useful to someone else. It is far more encouraging than a favorable book review or applause at a meeting, and I am truly grateful to you for having taken the trouble to send me the message. I have no intention of departing just yet, but as I am in my eighties, I am very glad that you wrote in time.
I wish you happy sailing through your doctorate and much success afterwards!

Ernst von Glasersfeld

 

QUESTION 2

From: meika von samorzewski <selfsame@ozemail.com.au>
Subject: question to Glaserfeld

1. Is radical constructionism a 'prioritising' of epistemology over ontology? 

2 Is radical constructionism a 'prioritising' of epistemology over ontology? ??RC?? Know I know now, more than -- know I be (now gone before)? (When all is said and done of what we know and have done, we still do what we do?)

3 Thus it follows, If I know reality, do I need worry about being there?

meika
investigative poet

 

Dear Meika,

Secretely I have been waiting for someone to write constructivist lyrics - maybe you are the person to do it? But let me warn you, it won't be easy and the poetic labour pains will be considerable, because shortcuts will not do - obscurity is incompatible with constructivism. To your questions 1 and 2 I can only say that RC is not concerned with ontology but only with knowing (epistemology); once you know something, you have no grounds for considering it ontic. Hence RC is not "prioritizing" but simply being exclusive. As for number 3, my answer turns round your question: you are where you think you are and there is no use worrying about reality. This is not new. Pirandello called on of his plays: Così è, se vi pare. Best wishes for your future poetic investigations! 

Ernst von Glasersfeld

 

QUESTION 3

From: Markus Walber <markus.walber@uni-bielefeld.de>

Lieber Herr von Glasersfeld,

Ich habe folgendes Problem! Ich schreibe gerade im Kontext meiner Diplomarbeit (Der radikale Konstruktivismus als Legitimation für den Einsatz von multimedialen, computerbasierten Lernumgebungen in der beruflichen Bildung) an einem Kapitel zu konstruktivistischen Impulsen für die berufliche Bildung. Rolf Arnold beschreibt in diesem Kontext einen Paradigmenwechsel (von einer mechanistischen zu einer evolutionären Berufspädagogik), der sich in der beruflichen Bildung vollzieht und macht dies ahnhand von folenden Punkten deutlich:
Mechanistische Berufspädagogik
Evolutionäre Berufspädagogik
Dualistische Konzeption zum Verhältnis von Bildung und Qualifikation
Integratives Verständnis des Verhältnisses von Bildung und
Qualifikation
Die didaktische Illusion der Machbarkeit
Der didaktische Realismus der Selbstorganisation
Die Dominanz des fachlichen Lernens in der Berufsbildung
Die (wachsende) "fachliche" Bedeutung des außerschulischen Lernens in
der Berufsbildung

Ich habe keine Mühe damit, Punkt zwei mit aus der Perspektive des radikalen Konstruktivismus zu stützen. Bei Punkt eins stellt sich mir allerding die Frage: Was heißt Bildung aus Konstruktivistiscehr Sichtweise?In meinen Büchern zum Konstruktivismus taucht der Begriff der bildung scheinbar nicht auf und ich weiss nicht mehr wo ich noch nachschauen könnte. Vielleicht können Sie mir ja eienn Hinweis geben. 

Vielen Dank für Ihre Mühe

Markus Walber (Universität Bielefeld)

Lieber Herr Walber,

Da ich mit der akademischen Welt im deutschen Sprachraum schon seit sehr langer Zeit keine Verbindung habe, bin ich nicht sicher, was Herr Arnold unter "Bildung" versteht. Zu meiner Zeit wurden die kulturellen Interessen - Kunst, Literatur, Musik, Geschmack, Weltanschauung, usw. - als Bildung betrachtet, was man in der Schule lernt, plus Manieren, als Erziehung. Im Rueckblick bin ich versucht zu sagen, Erziehung konnte durch Drill erreicht werden, Bildung nur durch eigene Konstruktion, aber ich bin keineswegs sicher, dass diese Trennung zutreffend ist.

Auf Englisch waere Bildung ‘cultivation’ oder ‘civilization’. Beide Ausdruecke sind aber zumindest in den Vereinigten Staaten heutzutage unbeliebt, weil sie persoenliche Unterschiede bezeichnen, die als undemokratisch gelten. Darum wuerde es mich nicht wundern, wenn "Bildung" auch in Deutschland nun etwas anderes bedeutet.

Freundliche Gruesse,

Ernst von Glasersfeld

[English: As I have for a very long time had no connection with Academia in the German-speaking world I am not sure what Mr.Arnold intends with the  word "Bildung". In my days, cultural interests - art, literature, music, taste, world view, etc. - were considered "Bildung", whereas what was learned in school, plus manners, were instruction. In retrospect I am tempted to say that the latter could be achieved by rote learning, the former only by one’s own construction. But I am in no way certain that this division is appropriate.

In English "Bildung" would be "cultivation" or "civilization". Both expressions, however, are unpopular, at least in the United States, because they signify personal differences that are considered undemocratic. Therefore it would not surprise me if "Bildung" now means something else in Germany, too.]

 

 

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