As an epistemology, constructivism provides a holistic educational approach attending to the construction of meaning-making activities of human beings by socially interacting with each other and their physical world. In constructivism, just like the brick-laying process, learning is an active and constructive process where the learner actively constructs, layer by layer, their interpretation or subjective representation of the objective reality. In constructivism all knowledge and meaningful reality hinges upon human practices and reflecting on our personal experiences, as we create our understanding of and assign meaning to the world we live in.
In constructivism, the idea that development of understanding requires the learner to engage in meaning-making, a process that hinges on human practices, as constructed in and out of the context of social interaction of human beings and their world. Analogically referring to the brick-laying process, knowledge and reality are constructed based on personal experiences and hypotheses of the environment. In constructivism, the making of meaning varies from one’s perspective and position, as individuals assign meaning to physical, temporal data, personal opinions and tenets along with forms of knowledge and mental processes. Thus, in an individual, the meaning-making process consists of engaging both social life dimensions: the actual events and concrete situations that are triggered by consciousness in assigning meaning to those situations and actions. Thus, constructions, the product of meaning/sense-making process and people’s mental activities, are critical, for they determine the behavior of individuals and interpretation of events. In the constructivist meaning-making process, the learner utilizes prior knowledge, experiences and cultural factors to a situation, by assigning meaning to it through those lenses. It is crucial for us to comprehend the key role meaning plays in our understanding of the world and our social experiences. While not abandoning the impact of physical reality, in the meaning-making process of immeasurable forms of meaning, constructivists rely on the concept of verstehen, a deep understanding of the meaning-making processes that allows for individuals and social groups to forge together shared knowledge and meaning within their lives (. For constructivists, meaning is not discovered, but rather constructed by the individuals, as meaning does not inadvertently exist in the object itself, but rather waiting for someone to assign meaning to it.
The objects in the world, in and of themselves, may have no meaning, but in constructivism, objectivity and subjectivity are brought and held together indissolubly. Meaning of objects emerges only when an individual’s consciousness engages with them through mental activity. Therefore, as meaning cannot be described as objective and subjective, human beings construct and assign meanings to things as they engage in/with the world, and the key to meaning-making process is consciousness or mental activity (thinking about), as without it the world would have no meaning. Hence, humans do not create meaning, but meaning is born out of engaging with the tangible objects in the world and interactions with others. Hence, in constructivism, learning is an active process where a learner constructs meaning to reality by utilizing existing knowledge with new ideas. In constructivism, it is important to bear in mind that human minds are not blank slates or empty vessels, without prior knowledge and experiences. Instead, prior knowledge and experiences are very influential in the meaning-making process, as combined with new ideas and cultural context, allow learners to assign meanings to tangible and intangible things and experiences in the world.