Everyone Knows Something You Don’t

I have always liked this quote! I think that it puts learning in prospective. Everyone knows something I do not and I can learn from them. I also think that this quote applies to constructivism in education. 

The article How Constructivist Are We? Representation of Transmission and Participatory Models of Instruction in the Journal of College Science Teachingby William Straits and Russell Wilke, talks about the benefits of the constructivist learning theory.

What is Constructivism?

The article’s definition of constructivism is: “Constructivism contends that each of us makes sense of our world by connecting new experiences to our existing understandings. Learners, as they encounter new situations, attempt to meld incoming information with their existing understandings.” Meaning, students come into the classroom with prior knowledge and to learn they need to connect prior knowledge with new knowledge. It is our jobs as teachers foster this connection of old and new knowledge. The combination of this is how students truly learn.

How is Constructivism Created in the Classroom?

Straits and Wilke said, “For social constructivists, a learner’s environment, the people in it, and the words they use help shape an individual’s understanding; the creation of meaning is not purely individual, but to a large extent shared.” This is why constructivism is and collaboration so important to use in the classroom. This shows how important others are to ones learning. Every student has had different experiences that can help others learn.

The table below is from the article and does a great job in showing how to foster learning in the classroom using the constructivist theory.

Theories of Teaching:

Straits and Wilke talk about two different theories of teaching: transmission and participatory.

Transmission is a teaching theory that believes that the teacher has the knowledge and will transmit the knowledge to the student. There is no questioning the teachers knowledge. The students are expected to understand the spew of information the teacher is throwing at them. This is done primarily through lecturing.

Participatory is a teaching theory that is believes is student collaboration and student centered learning. It is about using prior knowledge build new understanding of material. The teacher is a guide throughout the process and the students are able to question the world around them.

Overall, I think that using constructivism in the classroom is beneficial to the students learning. Students are able to learn from other students in a collaborative way. They depend on their prior knowledge to form new ideas.


Straits, W., Wilke, R. (n.d.) How Constructivist Are We? Representations of Transmission and Participatory Models of Instruction in the Journal of College Science Teaching. Research and Teaching.


  1. Katin,
    I really liked the quote you used in your title. This is such a true statement, and everyone can learn something from others. Experiences define our reality, and that knowledge that has been gained from unique experiences can be used to teach others. From the sound of it, it seems like the transmission theory of teaching is similar to positivism, while the participatory theory is more similar to constructivism. One thing I would have liked to have seen was an example lesson incorporating constructivism. Other than that, I thought the post was nicely done.


    • Billy,

      Thanks for you comment! I’m glad you liked the quote at the beginning of my blog. Learning from others is beneficial, especially in the classroom. We all have more to learn from others, including teachers. I agree that transmission is similar to positivism and participatory is similar to construction. I should have put an activity into my blog and will think of one incorporating constructivism.


  2. Katin-
    I think your blog post was great! Your discussion of the original quote, “Everyone you meet knows something you don’t”, brings excellent perspective to teachers in the classroom. I think we often subconsciously assume that we know more than our students–after all, we’ve had more education, especially in the subject we’re teaching. But the reality is, every one of our students has experienced something and knows something that we don’t, and we as teachers MUST use this to construct their knowledge about the subject! It’s like brain teamwork–combining our knowledge with theirs to build an overall comprehension. Well done!

    • Naomi,

      Thank you for your thoughtful blog post! I think you described the main point of my blog perfectly. It is hard equalizing ourselves with our students. As teachers, we have had a lot of schooling in our content area and can let that cloud our judgment. We need to remember that students will have a different perspective and different knowledge before they come into our classroom.


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