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)