Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Constructivism in Christian education

David Knowlton (2002, with James Thorne and Harry Harriss 2002, and with Suzanne Shaffer 2004) argues that a constructivist philosophy and pedagogy is not inconsistent with the principles and practice of Christian education. What Knowlton and his colleagues do not do in these articles is put forward criteria whereby such a claim can be judged against Christian theology. What is missing here is covered more than adequately, however, in Amos Yong's (2000) article on what evangelicals can learn from the philosophy of Charles Sanders Peirce. Yong does not address constructivism directly, although scholars describing the foundations of constructivism refer to Peirce's pragmatism as seminal. I would like to propose that Yong's work—supplemented by Donald Gelpi's essays on Peirce and theology—provides the background for the practical application made by Knowlton, et al. Speaking of revealed and transmitted truth is not popular among constructivists, but when Thielicke's method is combined with and shaped by the insights of Peirce, the results interface remarkably well with constructivism as a philosophy and pedagogy.

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