Monday, December 08, 2008


alan kay:
"Jerome Bruner ... wrote the best book on education that has ever been written, Towards a Theory of Instruction"
- Squeakers video at 2 min 30 seconds, included in this mark miller blog
I followed this up and found a great page (jerome bruner and the process of education) which summarises Bruner's thinking. I notice how Bruner takes concepts from both sides of the conventional curriculum wars and welds them together, for instance, he thinks that both structure and intuition are important. I summarise his approach as briefly as possible as incorporating structure, readiness, intuition, motivation.

I see this as the way forward - building a pyramid made up bits from both sides of the curriculum wars. eg. don't just focus on motivation but meld it with structure and readiness where readiness is "some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development" (Bruner)

Bruner was a key figure in the development of the "cognitive revolution" but later became critical. His thinking became increasingly influenced by writers like Lev Vygotsky and he began to be critical of the intrapersonal focus he had taken, and the lack of attention paid to social and political context

I've just ordered two books by Bruner:
The Process of Education (1960)
Toward a Theory of Instruction (1966)

Could it be that ideas that are 40-50 years old have more relevance to education reform than many of the educational ideas floating around today?

Could it be that ideas from the pioneers of computing (McCarthy, Engelbart, Papert, Kay) have more relevance than many of the computing ideas floating around today?



Tom Hoffman said...

It is a cliche here in the US to say "This is something from the 1950's" about our current "reform" in the US. Perhaps part of what we mean by this is "pre-Bruner."

I suspect Bruner also points the way toward why emphasizing "information" in education is a dangerous path, compared to "culture."

Bill Kerr said...

heh Tom, I was alive in the 1950s, it was lamb chops and mashed potato every night :-(

My current word for thinking about the historical cultural thread that transcends information is mediation in the McLuhan / Vygotsky sense - the instrumental mindset is so strong in school it keeps reasserting itself - necessary to revisit those authors to see technology in a different way - I thought alan kay's dynabook talk did that very well, too - it is certainly possible to build a cultural history through some very clearly articulated authors (include as well Gee, Engelbart, Kay, Papert, McCarthy and there must be many more) - but how do we get the information addicts to study history and read books? or even web1.0 sites?

Tom Hoffman said...

Also, at least in the US, this mindset isn't necessarily something that re-emerges from schools (although it never goes away), but particularly now it is being powerfully imposed from outside.