Our educational philosophy stands on the pillars of the constructivist learning theory. First, Jean Piaget (1970) suggests that children are active participants in the learning process. Dewey (1933) offers support to the constructivist view that students actively construct knowledge by emphasizing the need for educators to encourage students’ development of good thinking skills or critical thinking, which is “active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusions to which it tends” (p. 118).

Lev Vygotsky (as cited in Berk, 2008) expands the constructivist view, emphasizing that children and teachers strive for intersubjectivity, the process through which understandings converge for both parties. Thus, teachers must scaffold learning by aligning their instruction with the zone of proximal development for each student. Bronfenbrenner (1979) bolsters the constructivist view that social contexts greatly influence student learning through his ecological systems theory, which holds that students’ experiences, both at school and home, are ultimately interconnected because these experiences happen in social contexts that collectively shape students’ growth and learning.

In order to understand the role of the teacher at The Willows Nursery School, one must use a constructivist lens toward the education of young children and human development. In practical terms, our teachers are diligent about implementing an educationally stimulating environment that engages children in meaningful learning experiences. They allow children time to construct their own understandings through their own interactions with the materials and people in the environment, and they interact with each student to scaffold learning of new understandings in a way that meets the learning needs of each individual student.

References

Berk, L. E. (2008). Infants, children, and adolescents (6th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Dewey, J. (1933). How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process (Revised edn.). Boston: D. C. Heath.

Piaget, J. (1970). Piaget’s theory. In P. H. Mussen (Ed.), Carmichaels manual of child psychology, (3rd. ed., pp. 703-732). New York: Wiley.