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Encyclopedia > Jerome Bruner

Jerome S. Bruner (b. 1 October 1915) is an American psychologist who has contributed to cognitive psychology and cognitive learning theory in educational psychology and to the general philosophy of education. Bruner is currently a senior research fellow at the New York University School of Law. is the 274th day of the year (275th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1915 (MCMXV) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Thursday[1] of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... A psychologist is a person who studies psychology, the systematic investigation of the human mind, including behavior, cognition, and affect. ... Cognitive Psychology is the school of psychology that examines internal mental processes such as problem solving, memory, and language. ... Cognitive The scientific study of how people obtain, retrieve, store and manipulate information. ... In education and psychology, learning theories help us understand the process of learning. ... Educational psychology is the study of how humans learn in educational settings, the effectiveness of educational interventions, the psychology of teaching, and the social psychology of schools as organizations. ... Wikibooks has more about this subject: Learning Theories The philosophy of education is the study of the purpose, process, nature and ideals of education. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ...

Bruner's ideas are based on categorization. "To perceive is to categorize, to conceptualize is to categorize, to learn is to form categories, to make decisions is to categorize." Bruner maintains people interpret the world in terms of its similarities and differences. Like Bloom's Taxonomy, Bruner suggests a system of coding in which people form a hierarchical arrangement of related categories. Each successively higher level of categories becomes more specific, echoing Benjamin Bloom's understanding of knowledge acquisition as well as the related idea of instructional scaffolding. For Wikipedias categorization projects, see Wikipedia:Categorization. ... There are three components in the taxonomy proposed by Benjamin Bloom et al. ... Benjamin Bloom (21 February 1913 - September 13, 1999) was an American educational psychologist who made significant contributions to the classification of educational objectives and the theory of mastery learning. ... Instructional Scaffolding is the provision of sufficient supports to promote learning when concepts and skills are being first introduced to students. ...

He has also suggested that there are two primary modes of thought: the narrative mode and the paradigmatic mode. In narrative thinking, the mind engages in sequential, action-oriented, detail-driven thought. In paradigmatic thinking, the mind transcends particularities to achieve systematic, categorical cognition. In the former case, thinking takes the form of stories and "gripping drama." In the latter, thinking is structured as propositions linked by logical operators. Personification of thought (Greek Εννοια) in Celsus Library in Ephesos, Turkey Thought or thinking is a mental process which allows beings to model the world, and so to deal with it effectively according to their goals, plans, ends and desires. ...

In his research on the development of children (1966), Bruner proposed three modes of representation: enactive representation (action-based), iconic representation (image-based), and symbolic representation (language-based). Rather than neatly delineated stages, the modes of representation are integrated and only loosely sequential as they "translate" into each other. Symbolic representation remains the ultimate mode, for it "is clearly the most mysterious of the three." Bruner's theory suggests it is efficacious when faced with new material to follow a progression from enactive to iconic to symbolic representation; this holds true even for adult learners. A true instructional designer, Bruner's work also suggests that a learner (even of a very young age) is capable of learning any material so long as the instruction is organized appropriately, in sharp contrast to the beliefs of Piaget and other stage theorists. A male Caucasian toddler child A child (plural: children) is a young human. ... Look up image in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Jean Piaget (August 9, 1896 – September 16, 1980) was a Swiss philosopher, natural scientist and developmental psychologist, well known for his work studying children, his theory of cognitive development and for his epistemological view called genetic epistemology. He created in 1955 the International Centre for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva and...


The Narrative Construction of Reality

In 1991, Bruner published an article in Critical Inquiry entitled "The Narrative Construction of Reality." In this article, he argued that the mind structures its sense of reality using mediation through "cultural products, like language and other symbolic systems" (3). He specifically focuses on the idea of narrative as one of these cultural products. He defines narrative in terms of ten things: Critical Inquiry is a peer-reviewed journal in the humanities published out of the University of Chicago. ... For other uses, see Mind (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Reality (disambiguation). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...

  1. Narrative diachronicity: The notion that narratives take place over some sense of time.
  2. Particularity: The idea that narratives deal with particular events, although some events may be left vague and general.
  3. Intentional state entailment: The concept that characters within a narrative have "beliefs, desires, theories, values, and so on" (7).
  4. Hermeneutic composability: The theory that narratives are that which can be interpreted in terms of their role as a selected series of events that constitute a "story." See also Hermeneutics
  5. Canonicity and breach: The claim that stories are about something unusual happening that "breaches" the canonical (i.e. normal) state.
  6. Referentiality: The principle that a story in some way references reality, although not in a direct way that offers verisimilitude.
  7. Genericness: The flipside to particularity, this is the characteristic of narrative whereby the story can be classified as a genre.
  8. Normativeness: The observation that narrative in some way supposes a claim about how one ought to act. This follows from canonicity and breach.
  9. Context sensitivity and negotiability: Related to hermeneutic composability, this is the characteristic whereby narrative requires a negotiated role between author or text and reader, including the assigning of a context to the narrative, and ideas like suspension of disbelief.
  10. Narrative accrual: Finally, the idea that stories are cumulative, that is, that new stories follow from older ones.

Bruner observes that these ten characteristics at once describe narrative and the reality constructed and posited by narrative, which in turn teaches us about the nature of reality as constructed by the human mind via narrative. Look up time in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up event in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... Look up desire in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... In mathematics, theory is used informally to refer to a body of knowledge about mathematics. ... Value is a term that expresses the concept of worth in general, and it is thought to be connected to reasons for certain practices, policies or actions. ... Hermeneutics may be described as the development and study of theories of the interpretation and understanding of texts. ... A genre [], (French: kind or sort from Greek: γένος (genos)) is a loose set of criteria for a category of literary composition; the term is also used for any other form of art or utterance. ... For other uses, see Author (disambiguation). ... Look up text in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A reader might be several different things, depending on the context: there are several cities in the United States named Reader a reader is a minor member of the clergy in some Christian churches a reader is a book of different pieces of writing, often by many authors, collected for... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


  • Acts of Meaning (The Jerusalem-Harvard Lectures, 1990)
    • It was, we thought, an all-out effort to establish meaning as the central concept of psychology - not stimuli and responses, not overtly observable behavior, not biological drives and their transformation, but meaning. It was not a revolution against behaviorism with the aim of transforming behaviorism into a better way of pursuing psychology by adding a little mentalism to it. Edward Tolman had done that, to little avail. It was an altogether more profound revolution than that. Its aim was to discover and to describe formally the meanings that human beings created out of their encounters with the world, and then to propose hypotheses about what meaning-making processes were implicated. It focused on the symbolic activities that human beings employed in constructing and making sense not only of the world, but of themselves. (p.2)
    • Very early on, ... emphasis began shifting from 'meaning' to 'information', from the construction of meaning to the processing of information. These are profoundly different matters. The key factor in the shift was the introduction of computation as the ruling metaphor and of computability as a necessary criterion of a good theoretical model. Information is indifferent with respect to meaning... (p.4)
    • Given pre-established meaning categories well-formed enough within a domain to provide a basis for an operating code, a properly programmed computer could perform prodigies of information processing with a minimum set of operations, and that is technological heaven. Very soon, computing became the model of the mind, and in place of the concept of meaning there emerged the concept of computability. Cognitive processes were equated with the programs that could be run on a computational device, and the success of one's efforts to 'understand', say, memory or concept attainment, was one's ability realistically to simulate such human conceptualizing or human memorizing with a computer program. (p.6)
    • If the cognitive revolution erupted in 1956, the contextual revolution (at least in psychology) is occurring today. (pp.105-6)
    • Jerome Bruner argues that the cognitive revolution, with its current fixation on mind as "information processor;" has led psychology away from the deeper objective of understanding mind as a creator of meanings. Only by breaking out of the limitations imposed by a computational model of mind can we grasp the special interaction through which mind both constitutes and is constituted by culture. (Review of Harvard University Press)

The Harvard University Press is a publishing house, a division of Harvard University, that is highly respected in academic publishing. ...

See also

In philosophy, contextualism describes a collection of views in the philosophy of language which emphasize the context in which an action, utterance or expression occurs, and argues that, in some important respect, the action, utterance or expression can only be understood within that context. ... Constructivism may refer to: constructivism (mathematics), a view on mathematical proofs constructivism (art), an artistic movement in Russia from 1914 onward constructivism (learning theory) constructivism, an approach to language acquisition in linguistics Constructivism in international relations constructivist epistemology, the philosophical view This is a disambiguation page: a list of articles... The word cognitivism is used in several ways: In ethics, cognitivism is the philosophical view that ethical sentences express propositions, and hence are capable of being true or false. ... In linguistics and cognitive science, cognitive linguistics (CL) refers to the currently dominant school of linguistics that views the important essence of language as innately based in evolutionarily-developed and speciated faculties, and seeks explanations that advance or fit well into the current understandings of the human mind. ... Cognitive Psychology is the school of psychology that examines internal mental processes such as problem solving, memory, and language. ... The cognitive revolution is a name for an intellectual movement in the 1950s that combined new thinking in psychology, anthropology and linguistics with the nascent fields of computer science and neuroscience. ...



  • A Study of Thinking (1956)
  • The Process of Education (1960)
  • Toward a Theory of Instruction (1966)
  • Studies in Cognitive Growth (1966)
  • Processes of Cognitive Growth: Infancy (1968)
  • Beyond the Information Given (1973)
  • Child's Talk: Learning to Use Language (1983)
  • Actual Minds, Possible Worlds (1986)
  • Acts of Meaning (1990)
  • The Culture of Education (1996)
  • I am a Strange Loop Hofstadter, Douglas (2007) on mind making meaning vs. being processor, especially p.156


  • Bruner, J. S. & Goodman, C. C. (1947). Value and need as organizing factors in perception. Journal of Abnormal Social Psychology, 42, 33-44. Available online at the Classics in the History of Psychology archive.
  • Bruner, J. S. & Postman, L. (1947). Tension and tension-release as organizing factors in perception. Journal of Personality, 15, 300-308.
  • Bruner, J. S. & Postman, L. (1949). On the perception of incongruity: A paradigm. Journal of Personality, 18, 206-223. Available online at the Classics in the History of Psychology archive.
  • Wood, D., Bruner, J., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, 17, 89-100. (Addresses the concept of instructional scaffolding.)
  • "The Narrative Construction of Reality" (1991). Critical Inquiry, 18:1, 1-21.

Instructional Scaffolding is the provision of sufficient supports to promote learning when concepts and skills are being first introduced to students. ...

Further Reading

  • Olsen, David (2007). Jerome Bruner: Continuum Library of Educational Thought. Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-8402-6. 

External links

  • The Home Page of Jerome Bruner
  • Major Theses in Bruner's Work
  • Narrative Psychology Theorists
  • Quotations from Acts of Meaning (the Jerusalem-Harvard Lectures), Harvard Univ. Press, 1990
  • Quotations from The Culture of Education, Harvard Univ. Press, 1996
  • The Culture of Education - A Review by Scott London

  Results from FactBites:
Jerome Bruner - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (591 words)
Bruner observes that these ten characteristics at once describe narrative and the reality constructed and posited by narrative, which in turn teaches us about the nature of reality as constructed by the human mind via narrative.
Bruner, J. and Postman, L. Tension and tension-release as organizing factors in perception.
Bruner, J. and Postman, L. On the perception of incongruity: A paradigm.
Template (793 words)
Bruner believed that students learn best by discovery and that the learner is a problem solver who interacts with the environment testing hypotheses and developing generalizations.
Bruner felt that the goal of education should be intellectual development, and that the science curriculum should foster the development of problem-solving skills through inquiry and discovery.
Bruner expressed it by saying that the curriculum specialist and teacher "must specify the ways in which a body of knowledge should be structured so that it can be most readily grasped by the learner." This idea became one of the important notions ascribed to Bruner.
  More results at FactBites »



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