Education Readings June 10th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

This week we lost the extremely influential Jerome Bruner. Here are some tributes to him.

Jerome Bruner (1915 – 2016)

University of Harvard:

‘In the course of his three decades at Harvard, Bruner published works on perceptual organization, cognition, and learning theory, all of which departed dramatically from the deliberate mind-blindness of behaviorism, by emphasizing the importance of strategies and mental representations in the processing of real-world phenomena.’

Scaffolds and spirals

Steve Wheeler:

‘Bruner was one of the founding fathers of the theory of social constructivism, an approach that pervades many of the daily activities in schools across the world. Bruner will perhaps be best remembered for two important contributions to our understanding of learning.’

An Unfinished Quest in Education

‘Bruner resolved to study what he called “cognitive psychology”—how people think and reason, not just how they react and respond. For education, especially, the implications were enormous. Bruner found that even very young children constructed their own knowledge—that is, they made sense of new information based on prior experience and understanding. The job of the teacher was to help students build upon what they already knew.’

Inspiring Educators 3: Jerome Bruner

‘His contribution to understanding learning has been wide, deep, rich and powerful. He was a giant of educational giants. His voice was and remains strong, and his thinking as relevant as ever. Chances are you referred to his work in an essay or project while learning your classroom craft, and with a little excavation you’ll find his ideas underpinning your day-to-day practice.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Bruce’s comment: I really value the importance of art in education and in particular the importance of observation in the learning process. Too many children look but do not see and thus do not remember. I believe, in this age of fast and often superficial digital learning, the ‘slow’ learning involved in drawing is an important antidote. Visual education ought to be an important element of a modern education.

Why is teaching kids to draw not a more important part of the curriculum?

‘Drawing plays a big role in our cognitive development. It can help us learn to write and think creatively, develop hand-eye co-ordination, hone analytic skills, and conceptualise ideas.But drawing is rarely used as a tool for learning in schools. Generally teachers aren’t trained in visual education.Drawing is not something that should be confined to art lessons – it’s a skill that can play a role in many different subject areas in school education, and later on in the workplace.’

Artists Share “Before and After” Evolution of Their Drawing Skills with Years of Practice

‘Drawing, like all things, requires dedicated practice to master the craft and create amazing works that wow a wide audience. Although many people dabble in art when they’re younger, few people choose to hone their skills into their teens and adulthood. Those that do work on improving themselves have had impressive results—especially when comparing their refined techniques to their early work.Several artists have been sharing the evolution of their work online and the difference in the quality of their drawings is staggering—you’d never realize two particular pieces were made by the same person. An artist’s simple line drawing, created during their early teens, has since become much more detailed with just a few years of practice’

More Before And After Drawings That Show Remarkable Progress In Artists’ Skills

Showing students visual improvement is one way of developing confidence in learning – old fashioned perhaps but important in this digital era of fast but often superficial learning. Observation may well be the most important basic skill of all.

‘In a previous posting we featured impressive drawings that unveiled the striking evolution of artists’ drawing skills following years of practice. This posting  shows more artists have taken to showcasing their improvement  inspiring growth as artists with these before and after sketches.’

Drawing May Be Your Brain’s Best Way to Secure a Memory

A new study shows that drawing a picture helps you remember something better than writing it down. Something for teachers to consider.  Drawing gives the brain time to gather information –  important in current digital fast learning environments?

‘A new study out of the Department of Psychology at the University of Waterloo (UW) shows that drawing a picture helps you remember something better than writing it down. The idea that pictures spark memory better than words is not new — researchers have been trying to get to the bottom of what activities or mnemonics are most helpful in boosting memory since the 1960s.’

11-Year-Old Artist Creates Amazingly Detailed Drawings of Wildlife

The wildlife drawings of an extremely talented 11 year old.

‘Meet Dušan Krtolica, one of the most talented 11-year-olds ever. The Serbian child prodigy is a master artist who creates stunningly detailed, nature-inspired drawings with a skill level that is far beyond his years. Using just pen or pencil, Krtolica draws anatomically correct flora and fauna, piling together aquatic life, dinosaurs, insects, birds, and other creatures in dense illustrations that burst with life.’

How drawing focuses the mind

‘Sketching something close up and looking at it from afar are approached in quite different ways by the brain. When you see something familiar, the higher-order parts of the visual system quickly piece together information from the eyes to help you to understand what you’re looking at.’

Art and Math and Science, Oh My!

‘“I think that the unifying thing about all of your interests is that you really like creating and making things, whether that’s a painting or a program.” It was at that moment that I stopped feeling weird about loving both engineering and art, & embraced it, and explored how art and technology were connected. And that’s what I’d like to talk about in this post.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Observation – a basic learning skill

‘Schools need to tap into student’s curiosity and need to express ideas. It is this sensory resource of impressions that is called upon by learners when they come to read. Better still such experiences inspire students to talk, draw, write and then to read their own ideas. Before the word the experience is a simple enough idea – the more you notice the more words and ideas you will develop.’

Importance of observation.

‘Drawing is an ideal way to break through habitual ways of thinking. All too often our students see but they do not look. Observational drawing has long been an important means for some teachers to develop deeper consciousness in students – to assist students see through their habitual ways of seeing and to develop new awareness.’

Beginning the school year – the importance of observation in learning

‘Observation is an important skill in all areas of learning – all too often students look but don’t see. Close observation encourages a slower pace of work which assists student memory. Once the skill of observation is in place it can be used throughout the year in all learning areas.’

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