Social Constructivism is madness, it says here...

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Our first post flagged a left leaning podcast. For balance, here's something which hangs other other way.

There are plenty of 'What works in education?' blogs out there. Many of them follow conservative epistemological and philosophical lines of thinking and go straight to the 'solutions', often as provided by people with stop-watches and sheets with lots of boxes on them. Some have been flagging a paper by a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences along with a doctoral student of his who once worked for the Swedish Government for a year (Henrekson and Wennstrom, 2018).

As yet, the the paper somehow remains unpublished. So in case you don't have time to look for it, it starts out bemoaning 'post-truth' teaching, the 'malaise' in the Swedish teaching profession and the declining standards in Swedish schools as defined by PISA. And it concludes with:

"The sharp rise in absenteeism, ADHD diagnoses, depression, and anxiety among Swedish pupils is not unexpected in a learning environment that continuously overloads the pupils’ working memory, as they have to piece together information on their own. Supporting evidence for the view that the postmodern, social-constructivist paradigm has contributed to the increase in psychiatric disorders among Swedish adolescents comes from Québec. Haeck, Lefebvre, and Merrigan (2014) found that hyperactivity, anxiety, and physical aggression increased among Québecois pupils relative to pupils in the rest of Canada following a school reform in Québec in the early 2000s that was similar to the Swedish reforms".

So there it is. Social constructivism isn't just misconceived, it actually makes students seriously ill.

The paper will no doubt be published somewhere, sometime. But in the meantime its lack of published status reflects the ways scholarly writing of the right is being brought to bear on the professional worldview's of 'regular' teachers. Through sharing via social media and blogging sites, and onward integration into teacher's CPD programmes via new, small training companies, such papers can be highly influential without having received any kind of serious hearing from the world of educational research. From a conservative perspective, where educational research is mainly deprecated for ideological reasons, this is of course perfectly logical.

Indeed, this by-passing of 'constructivist' thinking in universities already seems well underway in respect of much 'evidence-based' in-service/CPD training delivery. Perhaps many university education departments are simply being outflanked?


Henrekson and Wennstrom, 2018,öm-Aug-12-2018.pdf (Accessed 31 August 2018)

Haeck, C., Lefebvre, P. and Merrigan, P., 2014. The distributional impacts of a universal school reform on mathematical achievements: A natural experiment from Canada. Economics of education review, 41, pp.137-160.


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  • Interesting and humourous if not scary. So I wasted my time in my Geography lessons trying to use technology in the classroom in a more more socially constructivistist way? Better to just let them all go on Google and Wiki for the facts and then do some online tests? Of course anything with the word 'social' in it is a bit scary for some people these days.