“More than anyone else, Jerome Bruner’s work showed that children of all different ages could engage in complex thinking if we found the right ways to teach them,” said Steinhardt Dean Mary Brabeck at a celebration in honor of the 50th anniversary of the publication of Bruner’s book,The Process of Education.
Published in 1960, The Process of Education, is considered by many a landmark text as it has influenced the thinking of generations of teachers and scholars. Linking the findings of the times in cognitive research with the thinking behind the curriculum reform efforts taking place in dozens of universities and educational centers across the country, Bruner’s book was a catalyst in one of the most extensive school reform effort that the United States had ever seen.
On April 27th, a distinguished group of scholars came from around the nation to take part in panel discussions that explored the book’s profound influence on the field of education. Jonathan Zimmerman, chair of Steinhardt’s Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, organized the panels.
Panelists included: Howard Gardner, Elizabeth Knoll (Harvard University); Barbara Beatty (Wellesley College); Peter Dow (First Hand Learning); Ronald Evans (San Diego State University); Patricia Greenfield (University of California, Los Angeles); Hubert Dyasi (City University of New York Press); Ellen Condliffe Lagemann (Bard College); Roy Pea (Stanford University); Eric Wanner (Russell Sage Foundation); J. Lawrence Aber, Marcelo Suarez-Orozcó, Joshua Aronson (NYU Steinhardt).
Bruner told large crowd of colleagues, friends, and former students that the germ of the idea that informed The Process of Education came to him while watching lab rats. In observing their behavior, Bruner began to see what he considered a “curriculum,” which led him to think about the education process.
In other comments, Bruner advocated for a more integrated approach to looking at education. “We need to stop separating education from the rest of the way we live,” he said. “We need to take into account the socio-economic and political parts of our lives. Thinking about education alone locks inequalities into the system.”
Jerome Bruner is a research professor of psychology at NYU and senior research fellow at NYU’s School of Law.
(Photo: Jerome Bruner (center) with Marcelo Suarez Orozco and Harold Gardner (left to right), moderators of the panels.)