Food for thought: 50 Educational thinkers


Donald Clark is writing 50 post on 50 learning theorist in 5o days. Very interesting read. It goes from Socrates to Marx, from Jesus and Mohammed to Illich and Pavlov and from Cross to Shank. Food for thought.

His reason for doing this (in his own words): ‘Most physicists know of Newton, Einstein and Hawking. Most artists know of Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Picasso. Most musicians know of Beethoven, Mozart and the Beatles. Businessmen know of Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and Bill Gates. Even criminals would know of Guy Fawkes, Jack the Ripper and the Boston Strangler. Yet most learning professionals have at best a sketchy idea of learning theory and the minds that have shaped this theory, and practice.’

Before I started reading I was aware that my theoretical background could be improved. I wasn’t aware of my complete ignorance.The great thing about the post is that he gives an overview of the thoughts and theories but on top of that he analyses them and connects them to current developments.

Here are some of my notes I took while reading:

Socrates was the founder of Adaptive learning. One of his leading principles was: “Questions lie at the heart of learning to draw out what they already know, rather than imposing per-determined views”

Plato with his Academy didn’t only lay the foundation for our universities but also for life long learning.

The thoughts of James form the foundation for modern psychology and education and he has a clear vision on learning: Learning by doing.

Gramsci has a pledge for informal learning. Interesting, I had never heard of him.

Thorndike was one of the first to think about the degree to which learning transfers to actual performance in the real world. Something we need to pay more attention to, After all learning is a mean not a goal.

Bandura was a new one for me, interesting thoughts on emphasis on behavior modeling and self-regulation in learning.

Illich, who offers us a range of alternatives for formalized schooling.

There is a lot more to come. And based on the discussion in the comments section (about theorist he left out), he maybe will do even more than 50. If you haven’t enough after reading his posts you could take a look at the list of David Deubelbeiss, he has some more for you.

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