Shoulders of Giants

Shoulders of GiantsA listing of thinkers contributing
to the conversation on education, human development, group dynamics, and change leadership.

What does it mean to stand on the “shoulders of giants.”  The Phrase Finder offers this interpretation: “Using the understanding gained by major thinkers who have gone before in order to make intellectual progress.”

There is a tension here, to resist being anchored in past paradigms and to resist re-inventing the wheel.  Another issue is simply keeping track.  To that end, this page begins a  listing of  theorists who have contributed foundational concepts (and, yes, some Edu-Speak buzzwords) to our current conversations.

Learning Theory v5.cmapThis compilation is a work in progress. Thanks for bearing with the construction.

In the meantime, you can also view this ambition mindmap of all things Learning Theory (2013, Millwood, R.) that you see here on the right.

Links below to biographies or theories will likely connect to a Wikipedia page (you will need to practice your media literacy skills to determine if that is really the best source of information) and, where applicable, there are Amazon links to a book written by the thinker.  As a reminder, this is a list of “theorists” (vs. the universe of amazing humans who have contributed in ways other than a formal written treatise).

  • Ainsworth, Mary.
    Attachment theory.
  • Arizmendiarrieta, Don Jose Maria.
    The human person and society.  The meaningfulness of education and cooperative work.
    “Let’s marry WORK and EDUCATION, let us keep them tied together in the service of the progressive community, for the good of the people.”
  • Bion, Wilfred.
    Group dynamics and basic assumption theory.
  • Bourdieu, Pierre.
    Social capital theory.
  • Bronfrenbrenner, Uri.
    Ecological systems theory of development.
  • Coleman, James.
    Educational sociology and social capital.
  • Darling-Hammond, Linda.
    Equity and teaching.
  • Dewey, John.
    Progessive education and the function of schooling in democracy.
    “Education is not preparation for life.  Education is life itself.”
  • Dweck, Carol.
    Dweck works in the fields of developmental and social psychology. She developed the concept of the Growth Mindset. A mindset (on a continuum of “fixed” to “growth”) is a self-perception or “self-theory” that people hold about themselves.  Some critique regarding her emphasis on effort.
  • Duckworth, Angela Lee.
    A psychologist, Duckworth offers that achievement is not a talent, but a combination of passion, persistence, and the education buzzword, “Grit.”
  • Emdin, Christopher
    Reality pedagogy.
  • Epstein, Joyce.
    Model of parent engagement.
  • Erikson, Erik.
    Psychosocial stages of development.
  • Follet, Mary Parker.
    Organizational behavior.
  • Freire, Paulo.
    Pedagogy of the oppressed.
  • Froebel, Friedrich.
    Self-activity learning approach and founder of the first Kindergarten.
    “Children are like tiny flowers:  They are varied and they need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers.”
  • Gardner, Howard.
    A development psychologist, Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences asserts that humans have several different ways of processing information, and these ways are relatively independent of one another.
  • Giroux, Henry.
    Critical pedagogy.
  • Graves, Carl.
    Spiral dynamics systems of thinking.
  • Hattie, John.
    Hattie performed a meta-analysis of 800 studies linking different factors to educational outcomes.  Hattie’s findings are framed as Visible Learning.  Best results are found when teachers see the learning through the eyes of the child.  Some questions arise regarding the research methodology.
  • Heck, Ronald.
    Educational and social policy.
  • Heifitz, Ron.
    Adaptive leadership.
  • Kegan, Robert.
    Human development and immunity to change.
  • Ladson-Billings, Gloria.
    Culturally relevant pedagogy.
  • Laureau, Annette.
    Inequality and educational opportunity.
  • Malaguzzi, Loris.
    Reggio Emilia student-centered and constructivist approach to preschool and primary education.  
    “What children learn does not follow as an automatic result from what is taught.  Rather, it is in large part due to the children’s own doing as a consequence of their activities and our resources.”
  • Mitchell, Lucy Sprague.
    Whole child and faculty development model of early childhood education.
    “We hope to imbue students with an experimental, critical, ardent approach to their work and to the social problems of the world.  If we can do this, we are ready to leave the future to them.”
  • Moll, Luis.
    Funds of knowledge.
  • Montessori, Maria.
    Whole child learning.
  • Oakes, Jeannie.
    Grassroots organizing and educational equity.
  • Olivos, Edward.
    Model for bi-cultural parent involvement.
  • Paris, Django.
    Culturally sustaining pedagogy.
  • Piaget, Jean.
    Piaget was a development psychologist and developed a theory of cognitive development.  He was also a pioneer in the Constructivist Theory of Knowing – how people make meaning between their experiences and their ideas.
  • Puentedura, Ruben.
    Technology integration and the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model.
  • Scharmer, Otto.
    Theory U and change leadership.
  • Spring, Joel.
    Multicultural education.
  • Renee, Michelle.
    Social movement organizing and equity-focused educational change.
  • Robinson, Ken.
    Robinson is an educationalist who suggests a climate of creativity and  curiosity that fosters Finding Your Passion is essential to the academic environment.
  • Rogers, Everett.
    Diffusion of innovation theory.
  • Thornburg, David
    Education consultant and future, Thornburg develops a primordial metaphor for learning spaces to optimize educational spaces and teaching practices in his seminal work, From the Campfire to the Holodeck.
  • Vygotzy, Lev.
    Cultural-historical theory of child development and Zone of Proximal Development.
  • Wenger, Ettienne.
    Communities of practice.  Social theory of learning.
  • Wheatley, Margaret.
    Leadership and organizational theory.
  • Wilber, Ken.
    Theory of everything.