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Hardcover | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780262023528 | 336 pp. | 6 x 9 in | March 1993
Paperback | $36.00 Short | £26.95 | ISBN: 9780262521963 | 336 pp. | 6 x 9 in | August 1994

Instructor Resources

Schools for Thought

A Science of Learning in the Classroom


If we want to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for all children, we must start applying what we know about mental functioning—how children think, learn, and remember in our schools. We must apply cognitive science in the classroom. Schools for Thought provides a straightforward, general introduction to cognitive research and illustrates its importance for educational change.

Using classroom examples, Bruer shows how applying cognitive research can dramatically improve students' transitions from lower-level rote skills to advanced proficiency in reading, writing, mathematics, and science. Cognitive research, he points out, is also beginning to suggest how we might better motivate students, design more effective tools for assessing them, and improve the training of teachers. He concludes with a chapter on how effective school reform demands that we expand our understanding of teaching and learning and that we think about education in new ways. Debates and discussions about the reform of American education suffer from a lack of appreciation of the complexity of learning and from a lack of understanding about the knowledge base that is available for the improvement of educational practice. Politicians, business leaders, and even many school superintendents, principals, and teachers think that educational problems can be solved by changing school management structures or by creating a market in educational services. Bruer argues that improvement depends instead on changing student-teacher interactions. It is these changes, guided by cognitive research, that will create more effective classroom environments.

A Bradford Book

About the Author

John T. Bruer is President of the James S. McDonnell Foundation.


“Bruer takes complex ideas in cognitive science and illustrates how they have been, or can be, translated by researchers and teacher into new forms of teaching and classroom design. An apt analogy is the description, discussion, and presentation of examples of new ideas in biology and the life sciences that can change medical practice. In every chapter, Bruer takes the reader through carefully described examples that make clear both principles and their implications for practice. The organization of the book is skillfully crafted; Bruer works from general principles of cognition to specific descriptions of research and practice in school subjects, including mathematics, science, reading, writing, and assesments.”
Robert Glaser, Director, Learning Research and Development Center, University of Pittsburg

“John Bruer's Schools for Thought is an excellent book. I found it unfailingly clear and readable. I know of no books that survey a coherent set of educational interventions from the perspective of cognitive studies. There is without question a need for book like this.”
Howard Gardner, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University


1994 Grawemeyer Award in Improving World Order.