Betrayed - Why Public Education Is Failing: Has constructivism increased special-education enrollment in public schools?
Posts like this make me sad, and a little mean. Why is constructivism so misunderstood? When someone says constructivism to me, I think this: "knowledge isn't transmitted from a source; rather, we construct meaning and knowledge as we interact in the world and build on prior experiences." When I listen to a lecture, I hear what's spoken and make meaning of that not by creating a copy in my head, but by merging what I hear with old meanings and making new meanings. That lecture can be about anything -- even the most basic of skills -- and I can be alone in the room when I hear it.

I follow the blog below because for a long time I've had an interest in the math wars, and this has been a pretty reliable source for anti-NCTM, anti-math ed research ideas. This post wasn't math specific, but I'll summarize some of the claims:

- Constructivist theory has led to an increase in the number of special education students. ADHD students, in particular, would be better off if they don't work in groups and aren't spoken to. Because men don't talk as much as women and are more goal-driven, ADHD students should have male teachers.
- NCTM efforts to bring equitable math instruction to girls and minorities "feminized" mathematics has hurt boys. Also, because math was created by diverse cultures over 2000 years, we shouldn't think math or math instruction here and now is culturally biased.
- A focus on special education inclusion and equity has come at the expense of gifted students.
- (In a comment by the author) "Before constructivism" we won world wars, invented technology, and built the pyramids. So non-constructivst teaching works. If we want to prove constructivist teaching works, we need to show that a majority of high risk, inner-city students, can succeed in advanced high school and college math classes using constructivist methods.

I think my frustration comes from two directions: the misguided beliefs and harsh rhetoric in posts like this, and the failure of the research community to more clearly communicate theories and suggested practices to a broad audience. I certainly have seen curriculum and practices designed in the name of constructivism by people who might not really understand the theory, and some of it hasn't been very good. Some of it has been tested by research and found to be helpful, but that research is under-reported and education researchers could do more to try to replicate those studies. It's at times like this I remember that we'll "fix" education about the same time I "fix" my golf game. Perfection is never an option.