A blog by George Engel

Which _ism is it?

Behaviorism, congitivism, or constructivim, which of these schools do you belong too? In spending time with these topics, you may just experience a bit of cognitive confusion about which _ism to follow as an educator. So which _ism is it? Which _ism is the correct theory? Many scholars would tell you that their _ism is the valid theory today. However, Bill Kerr speaks differently of the _isms in his blog post _isms as a filter, not a blinker. Kerr is reflecting on a blog conversation that he had with Downes and Kapp on the validity of the various _isms. Knapp sums up the conversation the best on his blog post Out and About: Discussion on Educational Schools of Thought:

We need to take pieces from each school of thought and apply it effectively because…Cognitivism doesn’t explain 100% how humans process information and neither does Constructivism or Behaviorism. What we need to is take the best from each philosophy and use it wisely to create solid educational experiences for our learners.

Knapp further argues that each _ism has a place in the developmental stage of a learner – behaviorism for early stages where the cognitive load is light, cognitivism for procedural learning, and constructivism for problem solving.  This is an interesting approach that warrents study and discussion among scholars.  I am a constructivist and enjoy the ideas of situated cognitivism as well. However, when teaching mathematics, I see the need for a behaviorist tact to teach basic skills when they are lacking.  The idea that one theory explains all learning should be challenged and considered as educators map out curriculum.


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