Monday, 29 July 2013

Theorists in 140

For the last year I've been regularly tweeting a series that I've called Theorists in 140, so today's (lengthy!) post explains what it's all about, and why I've been doing this.

One of the most common inquiries I deal with is people asking for information on different theorists on child development - figures such as Jean Piaget, Maria Montessori, Lev Vygotsky etc. For a few years now I've found that students seem to struggle with finding enough information on different theorists - and yet there really is plenty of good quality, freely available information out there if you know how to look for it.

So the idea behind Theorists in 140 was really quite simple - I would try to demonstrate that a single tweet could contain enough information to give you at least a basic overview (and often much more detail) of a theorist's ideas. In practice this meant finding four URLs with useful information about or written by that theorist, and then squeezing them into a single tweet by using the bitly link shortener. Given how many different well-known theorists there are, that's a lot of information to find, so I spread the workload by posting each tweet on the relevant theorist's birthday.

Judging what qualifies as 'reliable' information is of course notoriously difficult when it comes to the Web, so I set some ground rules:
  • There would be no links to Wikipedia pages
  • If I thought a page might be in breach of copyright, I didn't link to it
  • Basically all links had to be to sites that students could be encouraged to use!
  • I also tried to ensure that each tweet linked to a diverse range of sources, rather than having four links to written articles which all covered the same ground
On a practical level, it was often easier to get high quality information that met the above criteria if the theorist in question had been dead for a long time! There's a good reason for this - works relating to these individuals tends to be out of copyright, and so it's easier to link to an EBook or other item which is freely available for anyone to use.

There's a serious point to this exercise, beyond tweeting links which people will hopefully find useful. If you can improve your research skills to the point where you can access relevant information quickly and easily, then you'll be able to spend more time actually reading and digesting that information rather than simply trying to get hold of it. And of course, the more diverse your source material, the more likely it is that you'll gain a deeper understanding of your topic.

I'm showing the complete list of Theorists in 140 at the bottom of this post, though if you're still wedded to print books then you should really have a look at Noel Sheehy's Fifty Key Thinkers in Psychology, or Colette Gray and Sean MacBlain's Learning Theories in Childhood, which both contain excellent overviews of a wide range of learning theories.

I'll keep tweeting the links below on the relevant days of the year, but who have I missed? Do get in touch if there's a theorist you think should be included in this series, and I'll see what I can put together. And why stop at theorists? If you've any ideas for another topic which would benefit from a 'in 140' approach then let me know and I'll investigate it further, or of course you could have a go yourself... Anyway, hopefully all site readers will find something useful in the collection below.

Carl Rogers 
Rogers in 140: Intro: Overview: Bio: Resources: 

Johann Pestalozzi 
Pestalozzi in 140: Profile Biog EBook EBook2

Loris Malaguzzi 
Malaguzzi in 140: Life Article Interview Obit 

Rudolf Steiner 
Steiner in 140: Profile EBook Archive Schools 

John Bowlby 
Bowlby in 140: Bio Article Theory Attachments 

BF Skinner 
Skinner in 140: Profile Theory EBook Video 

Friedrich Froebel
Froebel in 140: Profile Autobio Article Trust 

Robert Owen
Owen in 140: Profile Schools Essay Museum 

Susan Isaacs
Isaacs in 140: Overview Bio School Article  

Erik Erikson
Erikson in 140: Theory Video Obit Research Paper 

Howard Gardner
Gardner in 140: Overview Video Interview Website  

Margaret McMillan
McMillan in 140: Bio: EBook: EBook 2: Blog: 

Rudolph Schaffer
Schaffer in 140: Theory Study Interview Obit  

Jean Piaget
Piaget in 140: Bio Theory EBook Video 

Maria Montessori
Montessori in 140: Bio Video Article EBook  

Jerome Bruner
Bruner in 140:Article: Interview: Research summary: Vid: 

AS Neill
Neill in 140: Profile Film EBook Summerhill alumni  

John Dewey
Dewey in 140: Profile Film EBook EBook 2  

Lev Vygotsky
Vygotsky in 140: Overview: Theory: Article: Archive:  

Albert Bandura


Anchilla said...

Urie Bronfenbrenner and Ecological Theory of Develpment? Excellent resource btw! Thanks for your hard work :-)

David Renfree said...

Thanks for the feedback! Bronfenbrenner? I have occasionally had enquiries about him, I'll see what I can dig out...

Children at Heart said...

Chomsky, Kohlberg, leavers, paley sylva, trevarthen, tizzard, wells . anything on schemas or language acquisition.

Suze said...

Brilliant resources ..Reflective practice/ re: theorists just what i needed.

emma thomas said...

I think your a little bit wonderful - thank you for the resource

David Renfree said...

Thanks Emma - I think you're a little wonderful too :-)

David Renfree said...

2 additions to the list, following requests from our students - John Locke and Urie Bronfenbrenner:

Locke in 140: Bio Pedagogy Book Summary Quotes

Bronfenbrenner 140: Theory Paper Head Start Obit

David Renfree said...

And another addition following student enquiries - Jean-Jacques Rousseau:

Rousseau in 140: Bio Overview EBook Article

I'm aware that a few of the links have started to break since this was originally posted. I've fixed one or two, but am looking to post an updated version soon.