I like aphorisms, if they’re thought-provoking and not pat. Good aphorisms are like good melodies: they tap into the inevitable without being at all predictable.
One of my favorite aphorists of education is a man named Jerome Bruner. I’m not sure what he’s doing now, but in the mid-1990’s he was Research Professor of Psychology and Senior Research Fellow in Law at New York University. He’s certainly a member of my Secret Societry for Real School. I’ve long been in love with his book The Culture of Education, and long intended (as I pave the road to Hell, alas) to read his other books as well. In any event, here are a few choice quotations that are short and pithy enough to qualify as aphorisms by my standards. And if the quotations are really too long to be aphorisms, then I claim blogger’s license.
I’m very grateful Bruner wrote them down, and that I can share them with you.
Indeed, the very institutionalization of schooling may get in the way of creating a subcommunity of learners who bootstrap each other.
Nothing is “culture free,” but neither are individuals simply mirrors of their culture. It is the interaction between them that both gives a communal cast to individual thought and imposes a certain unpredictable richness on any culture’s way of life, thought, or feeling.
School … [is] both an exercise in consciousness raising about the possibilities of communal mental activity, and … a means for acquiring knowledge and skill.
[E]ducation is a major embodiment of a culture’s way of life, not just a preparation for it.
[T]he metalinguistic gift, the capacity to “turn around” on our language to examine and transcend its limits, is within everybody’s reach.
The chief subject matter of school, viewed culturally, is school itself. This is how most students experience it, and it determines what meaning they make of it.
[E]ducation is too consequential to too many constituencies to leave to professional educators.
Finding a place in the world, for all that it implicates the immediacy of home, mate, job, and friends, is ultimately an act of the imagination.