4.21: Introduction

I used to play psychology professor at Concordia University teaching 700 day students in the matinee and 700 evening students in the late show. After five years, my courses evolved into two books.2 They made me obsolete. There was no point in standing reading them until my tenure was up in the year 2000. So I retired. I took a decade off to explore alternative ways of living and learning, by visiting Esalen Institute in California, Findhorn in Scotland, Auroville in India and various other counter-culture communities.

This decade crystallized into a book called The Psychology of Teaching, in which I argued for a shift from the traditional concept of teaching as an outside-in process (that is, I have it, you don't, and I'm going to give it it you - the psychic transplant operation I had been conducting for those five years) to teaching as an inside-out process (that is, you have a certain intrinsic potential and I from out here may be able to help pull out this potential by arranging congenial environments for your growth).3

The theoretical basis for outside-in teaching is behaviorism, with its emphasis on learning from the outside, and for inside-out teaching is humanism, with its emphasis on growing from the inside. We all know, of course, that we are simultaneously growing from the inside out and learning from the outside in. The thesis and antithesis, therefore, require a synthesis.

The interactionism of Jean Piaget, based on a long lifetime of brilliant research in developmental psychology, provides the theoretical basis for the optimal orchestration of the secondary process of outside-in learning with the primary process of inside-out growing.4 Behaviorism, humanism, and interactionism are,thus, presented as thesis, antithesis, and synthesis in The Psychology of Teaching.

At the time I published this book, advocating that teaching be turned inside-out, I didn't have a clue how to do so. However, as you know, this does not prevent one from publishing.

My colleagues here at GAMMA lured me out of my premature retirement by getting me interested in the various exciting things they were doing. I got especially involved in the Information Society Program, studying the human impact of the new electronic technologies.5 Through this involvement (and especially through actually working with those new electronic colleagues - Big Mac, the word processor, Fast Eddy, the electronic data terminal, and so on) I got a glimpse of how teaching could be turned inside-out.

Let us look, in turn, at three successive visions of the use of computers in schools.

2   W. Lambert Gardiner, Psychology: A Story of a Search. Monterey, California: Brooks/Cole, 1970, 1974.
W. Lambert Gardiner, An Invitation to Cognitive Psychology. Monterey, California: Brooks/Cole, 1973.

3   W. Lambert Gardiner, The Psychology of Teaching. Monterey, California: Brooks/Cole, 1980.

4   Flavell, J. H. Developmental Psychology of Jean Piaget. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1963.

5   GAMMA Institute, Information Society Program. Montreal: GAMMA, 1984.