The Role of Community
In this chapter, you will learn what community means from a constructivist perspective. Chapter 1 described how the teachers’ group became a community to support one another. Chapter 5 explored the role of social interaction in children’s learning. This chapter will expand the discussion to include what children learn when they come together in a community as they do in early childhood classrooms. The idea of a community of learners in programs designed from a constructivist perspective is similar in some respects yet different in others from the commonly held notion of community as a gathering of individuals. In this chapter, you will read about examples that make this distinction clear. Constructivist classroom communities are special places in which children learn the importance of mutual respect in a caring environment where they feel a sense of belonging in unity with others. This chapter gives suggestions for creating classroom community based on constructivist principles. Planning a classroom environment from a constructivist perspective will be discussed, with numerous examples from real classrooms. In addition, this chapter will describe expanding community beyond the classroom in connecting with others in other classrooms, programs, and settings.