Jerome Bruner, a renowned psychologist who inspired changes in curriculum development and education in the U.S., articulated that knowledge is a dynamic progression that should develop individuals who can gauge diverse situations and solve problems. He emphasized the need for academic content and methods that empower and enhance the applicability of knowledge and skills. Bruner developed learning theories, as well as educational and psychological models, that are relevant to different academic and practical fields. This paper evaluates Bruner's involvement in active learning, education, and curriculum theory, exploring several of his books. This paper reasons that current education design has substantially deviated from Bruner's philosophy.
The principal aim of this paper is to determine Jerome Bruner's contributions to education, especially about learners and their ability to recognize their state of mind. Education, child development, and law are among the topics Bruner explored as a theoretical thinker, fascinated by ideas concerning the general lives of human beings. Bruner is arguably the best-known and most influential psychologist of the 20th century and is renowned as one of the primary contributors in the tremendous cognitive revolution, a movement that began in the 1950s. However, his impact was more significant in the field of education. He addressed the theory of cognitive growth and revolution, children's language, and cultural psychology. Throughout his professional life, he published books and articles on education. Some of his most distinguished classic texts regarding education are The Process of Education (1960), Toward a Theory of Instruction (1966), The Relevance of Education (1971), and The Culture of Education (1996).
Bruner's many ideas about education have influenced how it is approached today. Bruner strongly supported the notion that educators should focus on material thought and encourage children to develop critical thinking skills. He also believed that education should help learners to form independent, logical, and rational thoughts; critical thinking enables children to keep an open mind, eliminate bias, and view problems and situations from an array of viewpoints. According to Bruner, teaching techniques and methodologies that discourage critical thinking, such as learning through rote memorization and repetition, should be avoided. He also maintained that the methods of evaluating the success of a learning process should not be limited to the knowledge domain of cognition, but should incorporate the areas of activity and motor skill as well. Bruner believed that individuals learned more effectively through an exciting, engaging approach and advocated that resources, methods, and activities in the learning process be pleasurable and enhance creativity. He discouraged teacher-based learning techniques and emphasized practicality in the learning process, in addition to learner-centered instructional approaches, as in the case of experimentation and fieldwork. Another of Bruner's learning techniques - which has been highlighted by David R. Olson, a well-known research associate at University of Toronto - has primarily concentrated on the "psychology of the mind." According to Olson, knowledge is acquired through sensory experiences.
Overall, Bruner contributed immensely to cognitive education theory, learning psychology, and cognitive psychology, as well as to educational worldviews. As a cognitive psychologist, Bruner felt that the primary goal of education for all learners is some form of
intellectual development, to help them expand their minds and formulate new ideas. This paper explores Bruner's contributions to the education sector by examining several books through which he conveyed his own beliefs about what should be done to enhance the learning process. His significantly positive impact is recognized as a critical contributor to the evolution of education.
This paper will discuss the theories through which Bruner contributed widely to developing education in the numerous areas in which they were applied. In regards to the process of education, main themes such as the importance of structure, readiness to learn, intuitive and analytical thinking, motives for learning, and teaching aids will be explored. Also, the paper will provide in-depth analysis of Bruner's theory of cognitive growth and revolution, children's language, and how culture affects the educational process.
Process and Structure
The Process of Education
Bruner had several beliefs regarding learning and education, which prompted him to suggest reforms to the education system. He posited that an academic curriculum should promote the extensive development of problem-solving skills via inquiry and discovery. He contended that a curriculum should not only teach from a theoretical angle about the many facets of a subject but also foster practical skills to help learners tackle problems outside the classroom.
With this kind of thinking, he knew that a curriculum should be changed to explore other areas unreached by previous theoretical learning approaches that inhibited creativity, logical reasoning, and practicality in the learning process.
Bruner also stressed that subject content should be presented on terms consistent with children's intellectual abilities. There are significant cognitive differences between an adult and a child. Most learners are children; hence, the difficulty or level of the subject matter should match their cognitive abilities. The adult thought process is deductive, systematic, and logical, whereas children's thinking is illogical, disorganized, and limited to simple concepts because their cognitive functions are not fully developed. Therefore, learning methods for children cannot be the same as those for adults. Higher-level cognitive abilities like hypothetical thinking, systematic reasoning, and deductive reasoning should be exclusive to adults, whose cognitive functions are fully established.
Bruner also integrated skills, organization, and culture into his theories. He believed that curriculum design should focus on the mastery of skills that will, in due course, enable the knowledge of further skills. Bruner went on to fully advocate order in the teaching-learning process. Concepts should be organized from whole to part, simple to complex, old to new, and general to specific. The organization of thoughts facilitates the natural flow of ideas, thereby avoiding confusion. Bruner also stressed learning through discovery to expose learners to newer and more diverse facts. This kind of learning boosts the independent acquisition of knowledge and reduces overreliance on instructors during the learning process. Discovery learning also exposes students to first-hand information, making learning more fun, relevant, memorable, and applicable to real life; it also builds research skills. Bruner believed that culture shapes our thoughts and behavior in the educational setting and beyond. Culture supports learning, and Bruner perceived that no matter the case, culture aligns to people's notions of progress.
His book The Process of Education is a landmark text that directly influenced the formation of education policy in the United States;iIt also affected the attitudes of teachers, learners, and education policymakers regarding education and, specifically, the learning process. The book explains that children can solve even the most difficult problems. The book's key themes are as follows:
The roles played by a structure in learning and ways to make it central to teaching: Approaches adopted in this case should be practical. Educators should master subject content and structures as they inspire instructors to use specific teaching methodologies. Instead of teaching the material and using borrowed instructional techniques, educators should customize them to cater to learners' unique abilities, backgrounds, motivational levels, learning styles, interests, and intellects. According to Bruner, prior learning should set the foundation for future education, because earlier concepts and facts provide exposure to things that will be taught later. In other words, learning and the information explained should be progressive; what is taught at one level must be based on prior knowledge. Knowledge should not be imparted randomly, and relationships should exist between the content taught across disciplines and subjects.
Enthusiasm for knowledge: Bruner noticed that both teachers and learners generally avoid opportunities to tackle difficult lessons; even when they are supposed to be approached, there is a tendency to consider other areas instead. Consequently, much time is wasted because teachers do not know they are capable of teaching challenging ideas if they first prepare before starting any education. Of course, some topics are inherently hard, which means that teachers and learners may have to spend time on peripheral concepts first. At the development stage, both natural and challenging subjects need to be taught effectively. This relies on the assumption that learners can perform better than they expected in these subjects, which depends on their readiness. This is the notion that underpins the spiral curriculum concept: As a curriculum progresses, it should revisit and effectively build on basic ideas up to the point at which students have a solid grasp of the subject matter.
Intuitive and analytical thinking: Intuitive thinking is an irrational form of reasoning that does not require analytical facts or data. Intuitive thinking develops after years of repeated encounters with environmental stimuli, such that knowledge of these stimuli becomes second nature. Bruner warned against ignoring intuition, especially with the prominence given to logical and rational forms of thinking in American education. Children should be permitted and encouraged to solve problems and make decisions intuitively. Bruner explored how teachers and school administrators can create school environments where intuition can flourish.
Motives for learning: Bruner advocated that education should be geared towards internal - as opposed to external - rewards. A subject should interest the child due to its content - not because of the pressure to attain good grades or gain a competitive advantage. In other words, the motives of education should be active and focus on arousing learners' interest in what they learn Therefore, a curriculum ought to be diverse in terms of expression and content to cater to learners' different interests and needs.
The Spiral Curriculum
Acknowledging one of Bruner's most essential theories is necessary. First proposed in the 1960s, the method of cognitive development focuses on how environmental and empirical elements impact a child's learning. This theory posits that each child's intellectual capability grows in phases through transformations in how the mind is utilized. The ability to acquire and use knowledge is specific to learners' cognitive abilities. Therefore, the teaching and learning approaches used cannot be uniform and should be tailored to learners' unique intellectual traits.
Bruner contended that children should be taught the fundamental propositions or truths of divergent ideas; that is, basic knowledge. The learning process should be orderly and sequential. Basic concepts are to be learned first, followed by all other knowledge expanded from them. The learning process is ineffective when facts are memorized. The theory also posits that cramming and memorization hinder critical and creative thinking, lowering the success of the learning process. Bruner supported education through inquiry and encouraged training in ever...
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