Such debates are familiar to educators and teachers. After all, the teaching profession has been one of the most intellectually challenging precisely because it consists of identifying problems and finding solutions. Teaching is not just any science, but the science of teaching young minds the skills, attitudes, and habits needed to do science, that is, to know the world and everything worth knowing as to attain a level of mastery that leads to a person’s growth and fulfillment as a human being. This is where teaching gets its nobility and lasting value. The debates have been long and many, covering every topic in the field of teaching and learning: curriculum design, standards of achievement, instructional strategy, learning psychology, and so on. These debates have been heated and not without controversy, which is what makes them interesting. Of the wide range of debated topics, this paper focuses on one of the most basic battle lines – Constructivism versus Instructivism – which seeks to ask and answer the question.Constructivist Theory states that people learn by constructing their own understanding and knowledge of the world through experience and reflection on those experiences. Instructivist Theory states that people learn by the transfer of knowledge from teachers to their students in an orderly sequence over time. This is why instructivists are criticized as traditionalists and old-fashioned, teachers who teach as they have been taught. The achievement of learning depends on the quality of the teacher....
These two are basic theories of how people learn (EBC, 2007).
Constructivist Theory states that people learn by constructing their own understanding and knowledge of the world through experience and reflection on those experiences. Instructivist Theory states that people learn by the transfer of knowledge from teachers to their students in an orderly sequence over time.
These definitions give an idea of the controversies that have marked the debate, which can best be summarized as in Table 1.
The basic point of contention is in each theory's focus: Constructivism is "student-centered" while Instructivism is "teacher-centered".
This is why instructivists are criticized as traditionalists and old-fashioned, teachers who teach as they have been taught. The achievement of learning depends too much on the quality of the teacher, which makes learning rather like the roll of a dice: students taught by good teachers are lucky, while those who end up with bad teachers are not. Improving the quality of education would therefore mean improving the quality of teachers: how they teach, how they assess learning, how they refine their methods, and so on.
Table 1: Comparison of Constructivism and Instructivism
Curriculum begins with the parts of the whole. Emphasizes basic skills.
Curriculum emphasizes big concepts, beginning with the whole and expanding to include the parts.
Strict adherence to fixed curriculum is highly valued.
Pursuit of student questions and interests is valued.
Materials are primarily textbooks and workbooks.
Materials include primary sources of material and manipulative materials.
Learning is based on repetition.
Learning is interactive, building on what the student already knows.
Teachers disseminate information