jerome bruner

jerome bruner bw

[new york]


reminded of Jerome’s voice here:

Wendy guestposting on Chris‘s site…

unschooling by wendy

Educator and psychologist Jerome Bruner wrote in his 1966 book Toward a Theory of Instruction that,

The will to learn becomes a ‘problem’ only under specialized circumstances like those of a school, where a curriculum is set, students confined, and a path fixed.

The problem exists not so much in learning itself, but in the fact that what the school imposes often fails to enlist the natural energies that sustain spontaneous learning.


wikipedia small

Jerome Seymour Bruner (born October 1, 1915) is a psychologist who has made significant contributions to human cognitive psychology and cognitive learning theory in educational psychology, as well as to history and to the general philosophy of education. Bruner is currently a senior research fellow at the New York University School of Law. He received a B.A. in 1937 from Duke University and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1941.

lecturing at nyu at age 98. dang.

In 1956, Bruner published a book A Study of Thinking which formally initiated the study of cognitive psychology. Soon afterwards, Bruner helped found the Center of Cognitive Studies at Harvard. After a time, Bruner began to research other topics in psychology, but in 1990 he returned to the subject and gave a series of lectures. The lectures were compiled into a book Acts of Meaning and in these lectures, Bruner refuted the computer model for studying the mind, advocating a more holistic understanding of the mind and its cognitions.

In his research on the development of children (1966), 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.”

interesting. perhaps that’s where web/tech element can come back in to hep translate into each other. and g.b. shaw ringing in my ears – we assume the spoken/written word to be most eloquent/clean/definite/defined.. as if to say.. there you go. (with 98% ish around you nodding their heads seeking prestige or tone deaf to the pluralistic ignorance they are swimming in)

Bruner’s theory suggests it is efficacious when faced with new material to follow a progression from enactive to iconic to symbolic representation; this holds true even for adult learners. A true instructional designer, Bruner’s work also suggests that a learner (even of a very young age) is capable of learning any material so long as the instruction is organized appropriately, in sharp contrast to the beliefs of Piaget and other stage theorists. (Driscoll, Marcy). LikeBloom’s Taxonomy, Bruner suggests a system of coding in which people form a hierarchical arrangement of related categories. Each successively higher level of categories becomes more specific, echoing Benjamin Bloom’s understanding of knowledge acquisition as well as the related idea of instructional scaffolding.

what if the order – goes back to our natural whimsy‘s dis\order– again – with the aid of tech to facilitate/ground the chaos.. allowing for 7 billion ongoingly emergent progressions..

In 1972 Bruner was appointed Watts Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, where he remained until 1980. In his Oxford years, Bruner focused on early language development. Rejecting the nativist account of language acquisition proposed by Noam Chomsky,


Bruner offered an alternative in the form of an interactionist or social interactionist theory of language development. In this approach, the social and interpersonal nature of language was emphasized, appealing to the work of philosophers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, John L. Austin and John Searle for theoretical grounding. Following Lev Vygotsky the Russian theoretician of socio-cultural development, Bruner proposed that social interaction plays a fundamental role in the development of cognition in general and language in particular. He emphasized that children learn language in order to communicate, and, at the same time, they also learn the linguistic code. Meaningful language is acquired in the context of meaningful parent-infant interaction, learning “scaffolded” or supported by the child’s Language Acquisition Support System (LASS).

His bookActual Minds, Possible Worlds has been cited by over 16,100 scholarly publications, making it one of the most influential works of the 20th century.

In Oxford, Bruner collected a large group of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who participated in the effort to understand how young children manage to crack the linguistic code, among them Alison Garton, Alison Gopnik, …

This decade of research firmly established Bruner at the helm of the interactionist approach to language development, exploring such themes as the acquisition of communicative intents and the development of their linguistic expression; the interactive context of language use in early childhood; and the role of parental input and scaffolding behavior in the acquisition of linguistic forms. This work rests on the assumptions of a social constructivist theory of meaning according to which meaningful participation in the social life of a group as well as meaningful use of language involve an interpersonal, intersubjective, collaborative process of creating shared meaning. The elucidation of this process became the focus of Bruner’s next period of work.

the dance. how to see each other better. can tech help us with that.. or at least help us get back (detox/defogging) to a clearer vision of heart/mind/soul.

Jerome on nyu site:

jerome on nyu site


 I’m interested in the various institutional forms by which culture is passed on — most particularly in school practices and in legal codes and legal praxis. In both examples, my concern is with

how canonical forms create a dialectic with the “possible worlds” of imaginative art forms.

My preferred method of work in both instances is the anthropological-interepretive


“Interpretive anthropology” refers to the specific approach to ethnographic writing and practice interrelated to (but distinct from) other perspectives that developed within sociocultural anthropology during the Cold War, the decolonization movement, and the war in Vietnam. It is a perspective that was developed by Clifford Geertz as a response to the established objectivized ethnographic stance prevalent in anthropology at the time, and that calls for an epistemology (“culture as text”) and a writing methodology (“thick description”) that will allow an anthropologist to interpret a culture by understanding how the people within that culture are interpreting themselves and their own experiences. Geertz, following Paul Ricoeur, suggested that “a” culture—any culture—is a complex assemblage of texts that constitutes a web of meanings. These meanings are understood by actors themselves (the “natives”) and are subsequently interpreted by anthropologists in the way in which parts of a text are understood by literary critics—by incorporating into the analysis the attendant contexts that make meaning possible for everyone involved in the act of interpretation.

Interpretive anthropology is “very practice oriented,” considering human acts as nonwritten texts, “texts [which] are performed” (Panourgiá and Kavouras 2008). Geertz saw the task of interpretive anthropology as being “fundamentally about getting some idea of how people conceptualize, understand their world, what they are doing, how they are going about doing it, to get an idea of their world” (Panourgiá and Kavouras 2008).


constructivist theory

A major theme in the theoretical framework of Bruner is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge. The learner selects and transforms information, constructs hypotheses, and makes decisions, relying on a cognitive structure to do so. Cognitive structure (i.e., schema, mental models) provides meaning and organization to experiences and allows the individual to “go beyond the information given”.

Bruner (1966) states that a theory of instruction should address four major aspects: (1) predisposition towards learning, (2) the ways in which a body of knowledge can be structured so that it can be most readily grasped by the learner, (3) the most effective sequences in which to present material, and (4) the nature and pacing of rewards and punishments. Good methods for structuring knowledge should result in simplifying, generating new propositions, and increasing the manipulation of information.

(4) the nature and pacing of rewards and punishments.

? – what if we get the dance/sync better – so that we don’t need rewards/punishments.. that for some reason we’ve decided are necessary to human nature..

“The concept of prime numbers appears to be more readily grasped when the child, through construction, discovers that certain handfuls of beans cannot be laid out in completed rows and columns. Such quantities have either to be laid out in a single file or in an incomplete row-column design in which there is always one extra or one too few to fill the pattern. These patterns, the child learns, happen to be called prime. It is easy for the child to go from this step to the recognition that a multiple table , so called, is a record sheet of quantities in completed mutiple rows and columns. Here is factoring, multiplication and primes in a construction that can be visualized.”

spot on – so here we have the brilliance of Bruner locked up in the myth that prime numbers are essential to being human.. no? researching the deeper levels of the potential of humanity – within a man made construct… (ie: assumed basic knowledge)



Alan Kay and Jerome on squeak:

we’ll never know what the world really is.. we always have to construct what we think the world is

my passion – how human minds make this sort of reality


through these eyes

how do you build a better society… – Bruner

from Mary Ann (click image to watch film on her site):

through these eyes


continuation of their convo..

@steelemaley :

“Without awareness, there is moral and mental death” –Bruner @rogre @MaryAnnReilly @lukeneff

Original Tweet:

@steelemaley @MaryAnnReilly @lukeneff Dreamed of that line as I slept last night. Haunting, considering our surroundings.


oct 1, 2014 – 99 yrs old – Jerome Bruner

via Maria:

Today, we hang so much of our identity on our capacity to create, often confusing what we do for who we are. And while creativity, by and large, is a positive force in the external world, its blind pursuit can be damaging to the inner.

– – –

It is hard for us to accept that people do not fall in love with works of art only for their own sake, but also in order to feel that they belong to a community. By imitating, we get closer to others—that is, other imitators. It fights solitude.  – Taleb

most people are other people. trumping authenticity for attachment.

perhaps why ie: th experiment and this mit & twitter – and even maker ness – won’t get us there – until we free people up to be themselves. twitter data is irrelevant – if it’s not really us. no? how to make it not an imitation. every day.


between john and jerome: