Reconstructionism is not a fully developed philosophy of life or of education. Many writers view it as only an extension of progressivism, the educational philosophy. Like progressivism, it is based on the "pure" philosophy of pragmatism. Therefore, its answers to basic questions are the same. In answer to the ontological question of what is real, reconstructionists agree that everyday, personal experience constitutes reality. The epistemological question asks: "What is truth and how do we know truth"? The reconstructionist claims that truth is what works, and we arrive at truth through a process of trial and error. The axiological question asks: "What is good and beautiful"? The reconstructionist's answer to this is whatever the public consensus says it is!
As far as his educational views are concerned, the reconstructionist sees things the same way as the progressiveup to a point. For example, reconstructionists believe that students learn more, remember it longer, and apply it to new situations better if they learn through experience, rather than through being told something.
As they see it, the teacher's main role is that of a resource person or a research project director who guides the students' learning rather than being a dispenser of knowledge. In this role, the teacher carries on a dialogue with students, helping them identify problems, frame hypotheses, find data, draw appropriate conclusions, and select efficacious courses of action (praxis).
Reconstructionists don't believe in a predetermined curriculum. They would use the subject matter from any or all disciplines when needed to solve a problem. They would probably deal more, however, with the subject matter of social experience (the social sciences) in solving problems.
The teaching methods favored by reconstructionists are (1) the pupil-teacher dialogue and (2) praxis. Praxis is "effective action." In other words, reconstructionists favor applying the problem-solving method (scientific method) of the progressives to real-life problems. After one has reached an "intellectual solution" to a problem, reconstructionists favor carefully thought-out social action to remedy or ameliorate the problem.
Reconstructionists, like progressives, do not favor any type of ability grouping. They feel students should be grouped only upon the basis of common interests.
Reconstructionists also like flexible student seating arrangements, but since there is so much involvement outside the classroom, seating is not even an issue.
Reconstructionists share the progressive's view of student discipline. Moreover, they feel that if students are actively involved in bringing about change in areas that concern them, they will not become frustrated, and therefore, will not be likely to become discipline problems.
Reconstructionists prefer to evaluate students subjectively on the basis of their ability as a social activist rather than give written examinations. Like progressiv...