[In late 2002, as I considered entering the teaching profession, I was running an internet-based used and rare book business–also named Mark’s Text Terminal. It happened that I had several of Jerome Bruner’s books in stock, so I read them all. Encountering the quote below a second time, 16 years later, in my current rereading of Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe’s Understanding by Design, I was reminded of how resonant it was in the context of the way I was educated, and how it appeared to summarize the act of instructional design and delivery. Here it is for your consideration.]
“The curriculum of a subject should be determined by the most fundamental understanding that can be achieved of the underlying principles that give structure to a subject…. Teaching specific topics or skills without making clear their context in the broader fundamental structure of a field of knowledge is uneconomical…. An understanding of fundamental principles and ideas appears to be the main road to adequate transfer of training. To understand something as a specific instances of a more general case–which is what understanding a more fundamental structure means–is to have learned not only a specific thing but also a model for understanding other things like it that one may encounter.”
Excerpted from: Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 1998.