This article tracks his history, development and summarises his major books:
jerome bruner and the processes of education

key figure in the development of the 'cognitive revolution' but later became critical - Bruner's 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

MACOS
"Jerome S. Bruner also became involved in the design and implementation of the influential MACOS project (which sought to produce a comprehensive curriculum drawing upon the behavioural sciences). The curriculum famously aimed to address three questions:

What is uniquely human about human beings?
How did they get that way?
How could they be made more so? (Bruner 1976: 74)

MACOS was attacked by conservatives (especially the cross-cultural nature of the materials). It was also difficult to implement - requiring a degree of sophistication and learning on the part of teachers, and ability and motivation on the part of students. The educational tide had begun to move away from more liberal and progressive thinkers like Jerome Bruner."

Four key themes emerge out of the work around The Process of Education (1960: 11-16):
NB --> (structure, readiness, intuition, motivation)
NB --> Bruner seems to me to be a pyramid thinker, taking from both sides (structure AND intuition), or,
"... taking into account questions of predisposition, structure, sequence, and reinforcement in preparing curricula and programmes"

The role of structure in learning and how it may be made central in teaching. The approach taken should be a practical one. 'The teaching and learning of structure, rather than simply the mastery of facts and techniques, is at the center of the classic problem of transfer... If earlier learning is to render later learning easier, it must do so by providing a general picture in terms of which the relations between things encountered earlier and later are made as clear as possible' (ibid.: 12).

Readiness for learning. Here the argument is that schools have wasted a great deal of people's time by postponing the teaching of important areas because they are deemed 'too difficult'.

"We begin with the hypothesis that any subject can be taught effectively in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development" (ibid.: 33)

This notion underpins the idea of the spiral curriculum - 'A curriculum as it develops should revisit this basic ideas repeatedly, building upon them until the student has grasped the full formal apparatus that goes with them' (ibid.: 13).

Intuitive and analytical thinking. Intuition ('the intellectual technique of arriving and plausible but tentative formulations without going through the analytical steps by which such formulations would be found to be valid or invalid conclusions' ibid.: 13) is a much neglected but essential feature of productive thinking. Here Bruner notes how experts in different fields appear 'to leap intuitively into a decision or to a solution to a problem' (ibid.: 62) - a phenomenon that Donald Schön was to explore some years later - and looked to how teachers and schools might create the conditions for intuition to flourish.

Motives for learning. 'Ideally', Jerome Bruner writes, interest in the material to be learned is the best stimulus to learning, rather than such external goals as grades or later competitive advantage' (ibid.: 14). In an age of increasing spectatorship, 'motives for learning must be kept from going passive... they must be based as much as possible upon the arousal of interest in what there is be learned, and they must be kept broad and diverse in expression' (ibid.: 80).

Bruner was to write two 'postscripts' to The Process of Education: Towards a theory of instruction (1966) and The Relevance of Education (1971). In these books Bruner 'put forth his evolving ideas about the ways in which instruction actually affects the mental models of the world that students construct, elaborate on and transform' (Gardner 2001: 93). In the first book the various essays deal with matters such as patterns of growth, the will to learn, and on making and judging (including some helpful material around evaluation). Two essays are of particular interest - his reflections on MACOS (see above), and his 'notes on a theory of instruction'. The latter essay makes the case for taking into account questions of predisposition, structure, sequence, and reinforcement in preparing curricula and programmes.

Jerome Bruner's reflections on education in The Culture of Education (1996) show the impact of the changes in his thinking since the 1960s. He now placed his work within a thorough appreciation of culture: 'culture shapes the mind... it provides us with the toolkit by which we construct not only our worlds but our very conception of our selves and our powers' (ibid.: x). This orientation 'presupposes that human mental activity is neither solo nor conducted unassisted, even when it goes on "inside the head" (ibid.: xi)



jerome bruner (wikipedia entry is dubious in parts)

categorisation - "To perceive is to categorize, to conceptualize is to categorize, to learn is to form categories, to make decisions is to categorize." Bruner maintains people interpret the world in terms of its similarities and differences.

two primary modes of thought
narrative mode - In narrative thinking, the mind engages in sequential, action-oriented, detail-driven thought
paradigmatic mode - In paradigmatic thinking, the mind transcends particularities to achieve systematic, categorical cognition

Bruner proposed three modes of representation:
enactive representation (action-based),
iconic representation (image-based), and
symbolic representation (language-based).
Rather than neatly delineated stages, the modes of representation are integrated and only loosely sequential as they "translate" into each other. Symbolic representation remains the ultimate mode, for it "is clearly the most mysterious of the three."



BOOKS

The Process of Education (originally 1960)

Ch 1. Introduction
Ch 2. The importance of Structure
Ch 3. Readiness for Learning
Ch 4. Intuitive and Analytical Thinking
Ch 5. Motives for Learning
Ch 6. Aids to Teaching

Ch 4. Intuitive and Analytical Thinking

Defines intuitive thinking and contrasts it with analytical thinking
Paucity of research into intuition, we don't know much about it
associated with high degree of mastery of the materials

Elements of the definition:
sudden leap of insight after working on a hard problem for a while
quickly making good guesses or suggestions for fruitful pathways
associated with self confidence and courage arising from knowledge of a subject
willingness to take a risk, make a mistake

Opposite of:
formal approaches, eg. proofs in geometry
step by step logical approaches
analytical thinking




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