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Bruner and Cognitive Development | TESL Issues

Bruner

Bruner was an important advocate of Piaget’s ideas. Bruner was a professor of psychology and founder of the Centre for Cognitive Studies at Harvard University. To Bruner, the development of conceptual understanding and of cognitive skills and strategies is a central aim of education, rather than the acquisition of factual information. Bruner worked on the idea of ‘learning how to learn’, which he considered to be the key to transferring what was learnt from one situation to another (Bruner, 1960).

Bruner, unlike Piaget, was a committed educationist, he tried to relate his ideas on cognitive development to what takes place in classrooms.

For Bruner, the most general objective of education is the cultivation of excellence, which can only be achieved by challenging learners to exercise their full powers to become completely absorbed in problems and thereby discover the pleasure of full and effective functioning (Williams & Burden, 1997)((Williams, M., & Burden, R. L. (1997). Psychology for language teachers: A social constructivist approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.)).

Bruner also recognised that learning in schools must have a purpose. He argues that the first object of any act of learning is that it should serve us in the future. The limitation of such a view is that it does not represent the value of learning something for its own sake and neglects the relevance of any learning activity to the learner in the here and now.


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