| Von Glasersfeld's answers - November 2008  |


Dr. von Glasersfeld,
I am a graduate student in education, currently writing my thesis, at Saint Mary's
College in California. I read your chapter in C. T. Fosnot's book, Constructivism:
Theories, Perspective and Practice. On page 4, you refer to Piaget's constuctivist
theory. I quote you in my thesis several times and quote what you wrote about Piaget's constructivist theory. There is no reference for it. My reader wants me to go directly to Piaget. All my searches that include Piaget and constructivism, have come up empty handed. If you could please guide me to where I can read about Piaget and his views of constructivism, I would greatly appreciate it.

Mira Abdur-Rahim 

Dear Mira Abdur-Rahim,

Piaget has worked at and modified his thinking during 70 years. Only a fraction of his work has been translated into English and some of the translations provide appalling distortions of his ideas. After his first book on "Genetic Epistemology" (1950) he continued to expand and expound his theory, but to my knowledge there is no place where he gives you a concise overview that does skip important aspects. The most important aspect is also the most elusive: his shifting emphasis from stage-theory to the development of cognitive equilibration - a shift that has scarcely been registered by American psychologists

As references for his constructivism I would suggest three items:

Piaget, J. (1955). The Child's Construction of Reality. London: Routledge and Kegan Pau

Piaget, J. (1964) Six Psychological Studies, edited by Elkind, New York: Random House

Piaget, J. (1970). Structuralism. New York: Harper & Row

I know that L'Équilibration des structures cognitives (1975) was translated, but I only have the French original. If your library has the translation, you'll find pertinent statements about the inadequacy of the traditional notion of "representation" at §8, #2 and §10,#6.

I hope this helps - it's the best I can do for you. Please acknowledge this note.

Best wishes

Ernst von Glasersfeld



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