Cracks in the iceberg: Surfacing the tensions of constructivist pedagogy in the context of mentoring

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    This paper is the result of my inquiry into the nature of my constructivist pedagogy in the context of a postgraduate course that focused on theoretical and practical dimensions of mentoring at a major university in the north of Israel. Drawing on four critical incidents in my university teaching, I address the question: What happens when you teach a course characterized by a process-oriented, constructivist discourse to post graduate students who hold leadership roles, such as mentors of teachers, in an educational system characterized by a predominantly product-oriented discourse?. Drawing on four illustrative cases, each of which highlights a particular 'crack in the iceberg', I discuss the understandings that I gained about constructivist pedagogy as I reflected on these incidents. The four critical incidents surface four major tensions that reflected the 'competing discourses' (Miller-Marsh, 2002) that played out in my constructivist pedagogy: Problem solving discourse versus Dilemmatic discourse; Constructive discourse versus Constructing discourse; Language of discourse versus Approach of discourse; and Leading discourse versus Emerging discourse. The critical incidents have made me realize that identifying 'cracks in the iceberg' has as much to do with becoming aware of my personal 'cracks' hiding underneath the 'tip of the iceberg' as with surfacing the tensions between my constructivist agenda and participants' agendas. Laying open these discourses and challenging their underlying assumptions, in the context of mentoring conversations and personal narrative accounts of practice, seems essential for reconstructing more authentic 'curriculum stories'.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)293-313
    Number of pages21
    JournalTeachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - 2005


    • Constructivist pedagogy
    • Curriculum
    • Mentoring
    • Teacher education

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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