Radical Constructivism & Ernst von Glasersfeld

Radical Constructivism is?

Information is not simply transferred from one person to another, and passed from teacher to student. The learning experience is down to the individual building knowledge and their subjective interpretation of this experience.

The individual constructs knowledge, understanding and links this with their own experiences and ideas – the constructivism part. von Glasersfeld (1989) writes “understanding is not a matter of passively receiving but of actively building up”.

Assimilation is using new experiences to already existing schema, knowledge and experiences (von Glasersfeld, 2013). So according to von Glasersfeld, conceptually today’s education will soon be yesterday’s experience to construct and build on.

Theoretical Aspect

Radical constructivism provides an epistemological (theory of knowledge) approach where the cognizing individual creates meaning and understanding through active learning (von Glasersfeld, 2013). This radical constructive learning theory is based on one’s own experience and interpretation, “What we make of experience constitutes the only world we consciously live in” (Von Glasersfeld, 2013, p. 1). The complexity of Glasersfeld’s theory, which emphasises the subjectivity of the individual, and their reality and organisation of the world is a very challenging epistemological concept.

Become a Radical Constructivist with Ernst

Introduction to Radical Constructivism

Teaching & Radical Constructivism

Adaption, Assimilation & Accommodation

Keywords: Radical constructivism; pertubations; epistemological; ontological assumptions; cognizing.


Von Glasersfeld, E. (1984). An introduction to radical constructivism. The invented reality, 17-40.

von Glasersfeld, E. (2013). Radical Constructivism. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Von Glasersfeld, E. (1989). Cognition, construction of knowledge, and teaching. Synthese, 80(1), 121-140.

Wikipedia (2016) Constructivist_epistemology