Children's and Youth Literature Writer's and Reviewer's Guide/Didactic Method
Educational entertainment and didactic method
A constructivist didactic can be applied to a novel by allowing the reader to assemble complex meanings from fragments or building blocks and from motivations to form an opinion about events or conditions inside the novel. While a constructivist didactic should mean that the reader is given a certain amount of freedom in interpreting the fragments or building blocks a sensible pedagogic approach should also offer a reasonable amount of guidance to make ethically founded choices in the interpretation of events and conditions. Children's literature often applies an easily understandable black and white dichotomy, but children and adolescents can be lead to understand this as a false dilemma and to apply much finer distinctions.
A moral evaluation, for instance, can be seen as a point in a multi-dimensional phase space in which dimensions represent independent decisions in relation to a moral dilemma or a problem with a moral aspect. The views of characters in a novel are likely to represent different positions in that space, according to their cognitive biases, moral character and personality traits, but can also contain a random component to make their views contradict the views of other characters in an interesting way or in order to leave the range of sensible moral priorities. The task of the reader can be to make his own moral evaluation, which can be seen as a task of disassembling and reassembling the available pieces of information. The distinction between antagonists and protagonists, while it may contribute to the motivation to read a novel at all, is of little use for an independent moral evaluation.
From a constructivist point of view one could argue that a novel lacks both actual, real experience and interactivity, which is easily rebutted with the observations that a novel for children and adolescents should be able to catch the imagination of its readers, which makes the virtual reality of the book a relevant experience and that interactivity can be supplemented through discussions with peers and mentors, which can be motivated and guided through an explanatory booklet and thus could even represent a very high quality of interactive experience.
A possible feature of a book can be that an educator is enabled to supply missing content for a book, depending on the views and wishes of the audience. An explanatory booklet could, for instance, offer alternatives, possibly composed of several combinable threads, for passages missing in the book. Thus the book can only be personalized and read together with an educator (e.g. mentor), who completes the missing content. Alternatives can also include the possibility of wrong solutions, meaning the resulting storyline would not connect to the remainder of the book (or the next book), letting the story end instead, which should motivate the audience to reconsider their views and to request a new version.
As a result the readers and their educator can experience a high quality of joint experience that gives rise to actual interactivity in the design of the story and involves the educator as a co-author of the novel, which in turn can also increase the intellectual involvement of the readers.
- See also: Constructivism (Wikipedia)