Bruner on “Links” in 1971

What a culture does to assist the development of the powers of mind of its members is, in effect, to provide amplification systems to which human beings, equipped with appropriate skills, can link themselves. (Bruner, 1971, p. 53)

This is powerful! Consider the role of the read/write web (and of games and simulations) in this process.

He also hit on these “21st century” issues:

Six subproblems of “transferability as learning”: the attitude problem, the compatibility problem, getting the child activated, practice in the skills related to the use of information and problem solving, the “self-loop” problem, handling information flow manageably so that it can be used in problem solving. (71-72)

Sounds like something I might post about RSS feeds. Where do these prescient people come from… and why don’t we listen? There was also this:

These three – research and development, unpredictable services, and the arts – represent what surely will be the challenge to a society which has our capacity to provide technical routine. (105)

And this a decade before personal computers! He also suggested that knowledge, to be useful, must be compact, accessible, and manipulable. I’d be proud today if I wrote that. It makes me think of wikipedia on an iPod.

Bruner also contrasted “the relevance of skill” and “the skill of relevance” (108), with a focus on social relevance and personal relevance (114). Ultimately he said this:

What I am proposing involves a vast change in our thinking about schools, about growth, about the assumption of responsibility in the technological world as we know it. I have wanted to highlight the role of intention and goal directedness in learning and the acquisition of knowledge, and the conversion of skill in to the management of one’s own enterprises. The objective is to produce skill in our citizens, skill in the achieving of goals of personal significance, and of assuring a society in which personal significance can still be possible. (117)

Wow to that final thought. Wow.

I particularly liked this final bit:

We shall probably want to train individuals not for the performance of routine activities that can be done with great skill and precision by devices, but rather to train their individual talkents for research and development… in the sense of problem finding rather than problem solving. (103)

At least I seem to excel at problem finding. ;)