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This profile was last updated on 5/14/12  and contains information from public web pages.

Dr. Constance Kazuko Kamii

Wrong Dr. Constance Kazuko Kamii?


Early ChildhoodEducation

Employment History

  • Professor of Early Childhood Education
    University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Professor In the School of Education
    University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Professor of Education
    University of Alabama
  • Professor of Early Childhood Education
    University of Alabama
  • Leading Student
  • Professor


  • Pomona College
  • Ph.D. , education and psychology
    University of Michigan
51 Total References
Web References
Professional Development, 14 May 2012 [cached]
Dr. Constance Kamii
Thankyou to Constance Kamii, Ph.D.
The Attic Learning Community hosted Dr. Constance Kamii, Professor of Early ChildhoodEducation, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, for a evening lecture andall-day workshop on March9 & 10, 2011. The event drew over 175 attendees, who gave Dr. Kamii two standing ovations!
Constance Kazuko Kamii, Ph.D., is passionate about educating teachers, especially about educating them on ways to present mathematics so their students will "construct their own knowledge" rather than just memorize rules. Children learn math the same way they learn everything else, Dr. Kamii explains. They have to experiment with and think about numbers before they really understand how numbers work.
Dr. Kamii's pioneering methods in teacher education grew out of her 15-year association with renowned Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, whose lectures she attended as a student at the University of Geneva. "His books about his theory of thinking were dense, but when I heard him speak, he presented his ideas much more clearly," she recalls. "I knew I wanted to work under him. Dr. Kamii applied Piaget's approach to thinking to the field of mathematics education.
The Kyrene School District administration ..., 24 Aug 2007 [cached]
The Kyrene School District administration and 80 elementary teachers gathered Wednesday to hear Dr. Constance Kamii, a professor in the School of Education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, discuss her philosophy on the way children learn math.
Kamii inspired KSD elementary teachers by demonstrating strategies to present mathematics to their students so they will construct their own knowledge, rather than just memorizing rules.
Children learn math the same way they learn everything else, by experimenting and thinking about numbers before they really learn about and understand how they work, Kamii explained.
"By presenting videos, Constance showed KSD teachers these strategies are much of what they already see happening in their classrooms today," said Suzi Mast, KSD assistant director of curriculum and assessment.
Kamii taught that games not only promote thinking, they create communication because students are working with others.
Although these new techniques may be time-consuming, Kamii insisted it is all time well spent.
Illinois Loop: Math Trailblazers, 16 Feb 2006 [cached]
But closer to home, Constance Kamii has been pushing a constructivist ideology in primary mathematics education for many years. Many teachers graduating from schools of education today know only a little math, but a lot about Kamii’s work with children. Kamii takes it as an article of her faith in Piaget that children can reinvent arithmetic, that standard written procedures are neither required nor desired in the primary classroom. See Appendix D.
I believe NAEYC borrowed their torrid little speech about place value from Constance Kamii; see Appendix D.
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics,, a "big-tent" organization that has published Kamii, came to a different conclusion than Kamii when they put forth their revised Standards in 2000:
"It is absolutely essential that students develop a solid understanding of the base-ten numeration system and place-value concepts by the end of grade 2."
Appendix D: Constance Kamii
Constance Kamii is a professor of education at the University of Alabama. She studied under Piaget, and she never lets you forget that Piaget taught that logico-mathematical concepts cannot be put into a child’s head from outside. Number Lines and Charts and Diagrams, Base-Ten Blocks and Sticks and other Proportionate Manipulatives don’t work because they can’t work. Children must construct an understanding of number and place value through their own mental arithmetic activity. Kamii defines constructivism at
Kamii teaches that these manipulatives are external to the child, and cannot be relied upon as a means for the child to internalize concepts of number and place value. The child must solve the problems in her head and give the answers verbally.
Kamii gives some good examples of how children can perform their mental addition. She notes that all of the children in her classroom start with the tens.
I’m extremely disappointed that Kamii never asks children "what does this part of the number mean?"
I’d like to borrow an example that Kamii gives from her classroom. The children are considering the problem 36 + 46.
Parting thoughts about Constance Kamii
In her paper "The Harmful Effects of Algorithms in Grades 1 — 4," Kamii ends with this thought:
"Teaching algorithms to (struggling) students… sent them the message that ‘the logic of this procedure is too much for you; so just follow these steps and you’ll get the right answer.’"
Constance Kamii and constructivist curricula such as Kendall/Hunt’s Math Trailblazers have sent a clear message to teachers that the logic of our standard written procedures is too much for Second Grade children. Don’t even try to teach it. All a teacher can do is put a worked subtraction problem on the overhead and see if it causes any child to construct a private logico-mathematical understanding of "starting with the ones."
I wish Kamii would apply her formidable talents to teaching teachers how to speak correctly and ask the right questions, to instruct children in the logic of our standard written procedures. Her insistence on construction blinds her to the possibilities of instruction.
Must teachers reinvent instruction, or does Kamii think they can be directly taught how to teach?
(L-R) Dr. Douglas Clements,Dean Lora ..., 17 July 2009 [cached]
(L-R) Dr. Douglas Clements,Dean Lora Bailey, Dr. Constance Kamii
The early education symposium also featured Dr. Constance Kamii, a University of Alabama-Birmingham professional who has worked in early childhood classrooms in the United States and abroad for more than 30 years. She delivered the morning keynote address. Click here Kamii attracted worldwide attention in the 1990s with her assertion that traditional methods of teaching young children,the "Three R's", actually did more harm than good. She is professor of early childhood education at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.
From The Schools Our Children Deserve, 31 May 2008 [cached]
This approach has been described in detail by Constance Kamii, a leading student of Piaget's, in a series of three books about how children in first, second, and third grade, respectively, can "reinvent arithmetic. Ultimately, of course, it matters whether students come up with the right answer, but if they're led to think that's all that matters, they're unlikely to understand what's going on. Thus, says Kamii, "if a child says that 8+5=12, a better reaction would be to refrain from correcting him and . . . ask the child, 'How did you get 12?' Children often correct themselves as they try to explain their reasoning to someone else."[23] Because that "someone else" can be a peer, it often makes sense for children to explain their reasoning to one another.
On a smaller and more informal scale, the constructivist theorist Constance Kamii has tested a few elementary classrooms in which children worked all problems on their own, without being given any algorithms. Consistent with the other studies, she discovered that two constructivist second-grade classes did about as well as two conventional classes on a standardized achievement test but performed better on measures of thinking.[47] A subsequent comparison of third graders also found that the "Constructivist Group used a variety of procedures, got more correct answers, and made more reasonable errors when they got incorrect answers. The Comparison Group by and large had only one way of approaching each problem - the conventional algorithm - and tended to get incorrect answers that revealed poor number sense."[48]
One last point, which is not so incidental: a teacher working with Kamii commented that after she adopted the nontraditional approach to instruction, her classes "displayed a love of math that I had not seen during my first decade of teaching."[49] While there are no hard data to confirm this impression (as there are with Whole Language), it certainly matches what the Purdue researchers witnessed in their experimental classrooms.
11. Kamii, 1994, pp. 36-40.
15. Kamii (e.g., 1994, pp.
18. Kamii, 1985b, p. 3. For examples of fortuitous events that can provide the opportunity for children in first grade, second grade, and third grade to think about numerical concepts, see Kamii, 1985b, pp. 123-35; 1989, pp. 91-97; and 1994, pp. 92-98. Like some other constructivists, Kamii also swears by the use of certain games -- such as those involving dice or play money -- for teaching purposes.
25. Kamii, 1985b, pp. 25, 36. Her constructivist premises have led Kamii to offer only a partial endorsement for the NCTM standards. She argues that, despite their emphasis on deeper understanding of mathematical truths, the standards still reflect an empirical view that those truths have a reality entirely independent of the knower. Further, while collaboration among students is recommended, Kamii believes the standards fail to reflect a constructivist appreciation for the necessity of understanding through resolving conflict among disparate ideas (see Kamii, 1989, pp. 59-62).
29. Not every math educator agrees that primary-grade children shouldn't be given algorithms at all, but Kamii makes a strong case for this position.
31. "Research has shown, however, that most children think that the 1 in 16 means one, until third or fourth grade" (Kamii, 1989, p. 15). "Even in fourth and fifth grades, only half the students interviewed demonstrated good understanding of the individual digits in two-digit numerals" (Ross, 1989, p. 50).
32. Vygotsky, 1978, p. 84.
33. Linda Joseph's account appears in Kamii, 1989, p. 156.
47. Kamii, 1989, pp. 158-78.
48. Kamii, 1994, p. 205.
49. Linda Joseph, quoted in Kamii, 1989, p. 155.
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