Bryant, Peter


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I did my first degree in Psychology at Cambridge in 1961, and my PhD on learning in children with learning difficulties at the Institute of Psychiatry in 1963. In 1964-65 I did a post-doctoral stint in Geneva with Piaget. I continued my work on children with learning difficulties in London until I came to the Department of Experimental Psychology in Oxford in 1967. Since then I have studied perceptual and cognitive development in children, with particular reference to what they have to learn at school. I have also done some work on perceptual and cognitive processes in infants in their first year.
In 1974 I published a book called Perception and Understanding in Young Children in which I argued that children's first steps in cognition are based on their ability to make relative perceptual judgements and to make inferences by co-ordinating separate relative judgements.
In recent years I have concentrated on how children learn to read and to do mathematics. My work with Lynette Bradley and Usha Goswami on reading, has demonstrated a powerful causal link between children's phonological awareness and their success in reading. In other research on reading Terezinha Nunes and I have shown the importance of children's morphological knowledge in the later stages of learning to read and spell.
My work on mathematics is also done with Terezinha Nunes. In a recent book on this topic we have set out a theory about additive and multiplicative reasoning, in which we argue that both kinds of reasoning have their roots in every day activities, but that children have to learn about cultural practices which make these forms of reasoning more powerful and more sophisticated.
Terezinha Nunes and I are currently doing research on the role of implicit and explicit learning in the acquisition of these cultural practices, which are an essential part of education. In this work we are as concerned with the teachers' implicit and explicit knowledge as with the pupils'.
Written by: Peter Bryant