Volume 2 · Number 2-3 · Pages 90–97
Concerning Ernst von Glasersfeld’s Contribution to Intellectual Freedom: One Interpretation, One Example

Marie Larochelle & Jacques Désautels

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Purpose: According to the constructivist perspective tirelessly promoted by Ernst von Glasersfeld for more than 40 years now, the world we see is of a piece with our way of understanding and locating ourselves within it; ultimately, whenever we claim to describe the world-in-itself, we in fact are describing the product of the mapping process that has enabled us to make our way in this world and to actualize our projects within it. Obviously, this kind of perspective has consequences for the way both educational action and research on this theme are conceived of and accomplished. That, at least, is what we shall attempt to show in this article. Implications: In keeping with the claim that knowledges are constituted not in reference to reality “itself” but to practices and activities, constructivism advocates examining cognition in action – that is, in terms of how the latter is enacted in the field. Accordingly, constructivism also seeks to prompt teachers to: (1) scrutinize the processes and distinctions by which students chart out the world; (2) and to personally devise, on the basis of this experience, a model – or models, rather – of their students’ future relationship to the universes of knowledge intended for learning. Likewise, constructivism also aims to prompt researchers to perform some very careful detective work into the ways in which this charting process is played out and thus to opt for a comprehensive rather than an experimentalist approach. Conclusion: To adopt the constructivist perspective also means to “de-siloize” knowledge production and to recognize that this production occurs in all spheres of society. From this point of view, constructivism can thus be viewed as a way of challenging the claims of a certain scientific establishment to alone possess the requisite standing for interpreting the world.

Key words: learning, teaching, research, methodology


Larochelle M. & Désautels J. (2007) Concerning Ernst von Glasersfeld’s contribution to intellectual freedom: One interpretation, one example. Constructivist Foundations 2(2-3): 90–97. http://constructivist.info/2/2-3/090

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