Jerome Bruner on Making us More Human

Here is an education post and an “and Life” post in one. In 1966, as he was developing a theory of instruction, Jerome Bruner asked these three questions:

1. What is human about human beings?
2. How did they get that way?
3. How can they be made more so? (p. 74)

His suggestion of course, was that education should be designed to make us more human. In fact, later he declares that “the single most characteristic thing about human beings is that they learn” (p. 113)

My next thought was this… could it be that as we are freed from our concerns about things we share with other animals (food, shelter, etc), and as manual (and skilled) jobs are lost, that maybe the creative society and the learning technologies that accompany it (including things like iLife, the read/write web, and video games) might be making us more human?

Later, this bit made me think again of the value the read/write web offers our students (and us for that matter):

“[Another] intrinsic motive that bears closely upon the will to learn [is] reciprocity[, which] involves a deep human need to respond to others and to operate jointly with them toward an objective.” (Bruner, 1966, p. 125)

Creators, Synthesizers, and Consumers

Creators, Synthesizers, and Consumers (Via elearnspace.) I found this idea intriguing… and gsiemens’ reaction as well… particularly in the context of a classroom as a studio:

[In] Creators, Synthesizers, and Consumers the author states that for every creator, there are 10 synthesizers, and 100 consumers. I’m not convinced that this is entirely true in an educational environment. I would expect an equal number of creators and synthesizers during the learning process (with obviously varying levels of quality).

Jerome Bruner on Technology, Change, and Education

I sure picked the right theorists for this “principles of societal development” KAM. Check out these excerpts from Bruners’ Toward a Theory of Instruction:

It may well be the case that not only are we entering a period of technological maturity in which education will require constant redefinition, but that the period ahead may involve such a rapid rate of change in specific technology that narrow skills will become obsolete within a reasonably short time after their acquisition. (Bruner, 1966, p. 32)

He got it in the sixties! Then there was this bit:

As the technology matures… education in its very nature takes on an increasing role by providing the skills needed to manage and control the expanding enterprise. // The first response of educatgional systems under such accelearation is to produce technicians and engineers and scientists as needed, but it is doubtful whether such a priority produces what is required to manage the enterprise. For no specific science or technology provides a metalanguage in terms of whichh to think about a society, its technology, its science, and the contant changes that these undergo with innovation… Somehow, if change is to be managed, it requires men with skills in sensing continuity and opportunity for continuity. (Bruner, 1966, p. 33)

This is what state standards should be after, not specific skills and facts, but the metaskills of learning… and thinking. Bruner also addresses the role of schools in effecting positive social change:

By [exploring the limits of man’s perfectibility, education] can, In think, have its major social impact by keeping lievely the society’s full sense of what is possible… If we are to do justice to our evolution, we shall need, as never before, a way of transmittin the crucial ideas and skills, the acquired characteristics that express and amplify man’s powers. (Bruner, 1966, p. 38)


Bruner, J. S. (1966). Toward a theory of instruction. Cambridge, Ma: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Classrooms as Studios

Classrooms as Studios (Via Remote Access.) This is getting to be a much linked to post… its an infectious idea, a philosophy even. Here is an excerpt:

As I begin working this week much more intensively on podcasting and vlogging with the kids in my class, the classroom as studio has a lot going for it. It is an intense, team – oriented, creative space where people are driven to create high – quality products.

The whole post is worth a read.

Neil Howe on Millennials Rising

At the OC High School Summit today, the keynote speaker was Neil Howe, speaking about Millennials Rising. It was excellent… lots of new material for me, actually… or new perspectives. I particularly appreciated the historical context he placed the Millenials in – he reviewed each major generation of the twentieth century, and how they overlapped. It was moving. It did occur to me, though, that without a working knowledge of 20th century history, much of the benefit of his talk would be lost on a listener… so there is something to say for teaching some of those “facts” in history after all. ;)

I wish we could’ve live blogged the event, but internet access was extremely expensive at the hotel… and, sadly, having laptops out at events like this is still frowned upon by the OCDE… even as the presenter talks about how connected our students are, and what a good thing that is. Oh well, for this Gen Xer, it was actually nice to sit and listen for a bit.

Hard Fun

Hard Fun (Via EDITing in the Dark.) Many of our presentations include “Hard Fun” in the title and start with an introduction of the idea. Just in the last two days, I presented or co-presented these:

An Introduction to Games in Education, complete with some hands-on hard fun for the participants.

Hard Fun, Easy Work, Strong Schools: Using Technology to Support Your PLC for the “Just DO it!” Professional Learning Communities conference with the DuFours, including a Live Demo.

Hard Fun, Easy Work, Strong Schools: Technology in the Millennial High School for the OC High School Summit

Hard Fun, Easy Work, Strong Schools: Technology in the Millennial High School for the OC High School Summit – Session 2

So it was great to see the iDarkNight publish this list of “Hard Fun” resources, all new to me! :)

And incase you’re counting, I didn’t mention Hard Fun in my Adobe Premier Elements class last night. :(