A Constructivist Approach to Teaching and Learning: Rhetoric versus Reality in the Context of Ethiopian Secondary Schools
In this study, an attempt was made to examine the alignment of the teaching context in secondary schools in Ethiopia with a constructivist approach as emphasized in the education policy of the country. Constructivism underlies innovative approaches such as active learning, problem solving, and cooperative learning, and is often associated with quality learning outcomes. Nevertheless, it is believed that such an approach is less likely to lead to intended outcomes unless the teaching context is conducive. In light of this, by engaging teachers in a critical reflection, the alignment of their views and teaching context with a constructivist approach was examined. Data were collected from a class of 25 secondary school teachers. The results revealed that teachers have positive views about a constructivist approach to teaching and its introduction to the education system in Ethiopia. However, it is found that its realization in practice is more rhetoric than reality as the existing teaching practices are far behind the principles of constructivism. The traditional approach to teaching in which the teacher lectures and students passively listen is an established culture of teaching in schools and is unlikely to change as intended due to the overwhelmingly complex impediments to change in the education system. The students‟ poor background, top-down policies and curricula, poor administrative and physical infrastructure are among the impediments that are holding back its implementation. Therefore, a supportive environment that encourages teachers to adopt the intended approach is needed as mere policy changes do not guarantee improvements at grassroots level.
Keywords: A constructivist Approach; Critical Reflection; Reality; Rhetoric; Teaching Context