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Jerome Brunner

Page history last edited by Michael J 13 years, 4 months ago



from The Process of Education


by way of  Infed.org



Four key themes emerge out of the work around The Process of Education (1960: 11-16):


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).


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