When he was a small child, he was counting pebbles one day; he lined them up in a row, counted them from left to right, and got ten. Then, just for fun, he counted them from right to left to see what number he would get, and was astonished that he got ten againI think the key thing in this beautiful story about counting pebbles is the word "astonished" in the above quote.
- genetic epistemology
I have no personal recollection of being astonished by discovering the law of conservation of pebble number. And yet experiments with young children show that before a certain age this is something they (meaning all of us) don't know. At some stage in our personal development we learnt this, internalised it and then forgot that we learnt it - and can't recall any sense of astonishment or not knowing something which as adults, seems to us to be common sense
This is why constructionism doesn't scale (yet) - or is dependent on a teacher being there who realises that what is obvious and common sense to them is not obvious or common sense to children. And then finds ways to spend time discussing and experimenting with these common sense notions with children - rather than just assuming that everyone "gets it". Or doing exercises which involve getting the "right answer". How many pebbles? Answer = 10. Next question. This applies to all knowledge, not just to pebbbles or number.
If we don't understand Piaget's genetic epistemology then constructionism or a deeper philosophical approach to learning won't scale. This explains why when a school leader with a deep understanding of learning leaves the site then the whole learning environment of the school often then changes back into something mundane. For those who remain, obvious things become obvious again and are no longer astonishing.
Note also that pebbles are free and that pebbles are not green machines. There are some things that software freedom and green machines can't do.
thanks to Edward Cherlin for the Piaget link