Bruner is a noted and usually inspiring psychologist and Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Harvard. This short survey about the means and ends of educating young children lacks the excitement of his earlier, very influential writings. It offers a collection of generalities and a condensation of research findings without explaining how the ""cognitive"" approach is distinctive. The book begins with the learning patterns of primates and the growth of the young human's capacities: the immediate issue for educators, says Brunet, is ""converting the most powerful ways of knowing into a form within the grasp of a young learner,"" but he doesn't seriously try to tell us how. Two of his principal themes are the relation between thought and language, and the egocentric mode of cognition as it affects development. The first is discussed in scattered references; the second is more theoretically developed but remains rather opaque, though the idea of a ""self-loop"" in learning is valuable. Those concerned with schools and teaching will find familiar but underdeveloped reference to curriculum reform, ""the psychology of a subject matter,"" and providing ""a sense of problem."" Though he insists that ""the lawyer's brief, a parliamentary strategy, or a town planner's subtle balancings are as humanly important a way of knowing as a physicist's theorem,"" Bruner's concern with social dimensions as they affect learning boil down to a concern with ""the poor"" and their powerlessness. He concludes that one needn't choose between emphasis on cultural determinants of intelligence and Piagetian investigation of innate knowing patterns; however, he stops far short of providing an articulated synthesis, and his reports of his actual work and that of his colleagues is mostly too skimpy to compensate.