Episode 85: How to Make Learning Fun Again – Constructivism and Democratic Schools – Part 2

What is constructivism anyway? In this episode I explore that topic with Dr. Eugene Geist. We also explore what some would consider a radical concept in education: democratic schools. What would happen if we let children decide how they wanted to learn? Complete Chaos? Or an exciting new way to get students involved in and taking responsibility for learning? Find out in this episode of The Psych Files.

Concept Map

MeadMap is now called CoMapping. Feel free to contact me if you’d like me to send you my maps for the episode on New Year’s Resolutions and Weight Loss the Schools of Psychology and for Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development.

Constructivism (Constructivist Education)

  • Children naturally enjoy learning
  • Let’s let children tell us where they want to go and let’s build on their natural curiosity
  • The teacher’s role: use questioning techniques and act as a facilitator
  • The teacher’s role: arrange the environment
  • The teacher’s role: encourage interaction with objects and other students

Resources on Democratic Schools

Episode 84: How To Make Learning Fun Again Part 1 – Piaget

Jean Piaget
Image via Wikipedia

Can we make learning as fun as it was when you were a child? We can. Listen to Dr. Eugene Geist as he explains the cognitive development theories of Jean Piaget and you'll understand why we are all geared to learn. We actively seek out learning experiences. How can we keep that excitement alive? Find out in this episode and in the episodes to follow as we examine ideas such as constructivism, problem-based Learning, inquiry-based learning and democratic schools. This episode will also be helpful if you need to learn the different stages of Piaget’s theory of cognitive development.

The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done. — Jean Piaget (1896-1980) Swiss cognitive psychologist.

Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development


  • Approximate ages: 0-2
  • An understanding of object permanence is achieved at the conclusion of this stage
  • When a child’s expectations of what is supposed to happen are not met, confusion disequalibrium results.
  • Confusion disequalibrtum can be resolved through assimilation in which you try to fit the new information into with what you already know
  • Confusion disequalibrium can also be resolved through accommodation in which you create a new “folder””, a new category in your brain’s understanding of the world.
  • Learning is an active process. Our understanding of the world becomes more complex – a :building process: (thus the term constructivism).


  • Approximate ages: 2-6
  • Pre-logical thinking – children think intuitively
  • Children can use symbols
  • Ego-centrism lessons at the end of this phase
  • Still believe in Santa Claus
  • conservation tasks are difficult to solve

Concrete Operations

  • Approximate ages: 7-12
  • Children like to have more logical explanations at this age
  • Manipulatives are helpful in the learning process
  • Can think logically and a little bit abstractly, but not well with hypothetical situations

Formal Operations

  • Approximate ages: 7-12
  • Characterized by a more free flowing logic
  • Can deal with hypothetical situations

Key point of Piaget: children are not empty vessels as the behaviorists might say. Instead, they interact with their world because they want to learn.

And, because I couldn’t help it: