Influential educationalists

Froebel (1782 - 1852)

Founder of Kindergarten system in Germany who emphasised respect for the autonomy of young children and the importance of structured play. Influential in nursery and infant school education.

Montessori, Maria (1870 - 1952)

Italian educator who believed that `play is the child's work' and that a sequence of child development could be structured through a series of planned play activities using specific equipment. Particularly influential in nursery education within the independent sector.

Piaget, Jean (1896 - 1980)

Swiss psychologist who, through his studies of child development, identified four `stages': sensori-motor, pre-operational, concrete operations and formal operations through which children pass in a developmental process as they adapt to and assimilate their environment. His work was interpreted as legitimating the `child-centred' ideas which were very influential in primary education in the late 1960s and 1970s. The most influential `constructivist' psychologist.

Skinner, B. F. (1904 - 1990 )

American psychologist who, through his studies of animal behaviour, identified the ways in which learning can be affected by chains of conditioning between `stimuli' and `response'. Such `behaviourist' work provides a rationale for 'rote' learning, practice and some forms of skill development.

Gagne, (1916)

A behaviourist psychologist whose work established the concept of staged `hierarchies of learning', an idea that underpins the many mathematics and other published `schemes' used in primary schools.

Bruner, Jerome (1915)

American psychologist, much influenced by Vygotsky, who demonstrated the modern relevance of his work. A proponent of a `cultural psychology' in which social aspects of learning are taken very seriously.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1819 - 1934)

Russian psychologist who analysed the importance of social context and interaction in learning. His most influential concept is the `zone of proximal development'. The most influential `social constructivist' psychologist.

Stenhouse, Lawrence

British Educator who demonstrated how teachers can `research' on their own classroom practice and thus improve the quality of their provision. Associated with `action research', `reflective practice' and `continuing professional development'.