A History of Developmental Psychology in Autobiography

By Dennis Thompson; John D. Hogano | Go to book overview

and seek their publication. I think I would retain the balance I worked out between research and teaching. I might write a text, striving to communicate to readers the view I tried to offer in my classes: That children and their growth are fascinating subjects, that from the very beginning children are persons, individuals, with a degree of autonomy that they seek to express in many ways; that they participate as active agents in the creation of their own influential environments; that adults have much to learn by sensitive watching and listening; that appropriate patenting, guiding, and teaching roles come much more readily to those who manage such an understanding; and that for the present we must tolerate the paradox of development, that inevitable change coexists with continuity, sameness.

Were I to repeat this journey now, at the turn of the twenty- first century, I would make my way through a very different literature and in a very different intellectual climate. I surely cannot guess the shape of the outcome, but temperaments being what they are I think I would still celebrate the marvel of individual development.

The writing of this chapter has persuaded me that I probably owe much to Florence Goodenough for three ideas that appear repeatedly in this account. She insisted that psychology was properly the scientific study of behavior and experience, and for her science was an attitude and a systematic method appropriate to the problem and phenomena under study rather than any one specific method. She insisted on analysis but also on synthesis, or reassembly of the analyzed as a final step in achieving understanding. On this issue I still recall vividly her impromptu but sharp debate with Lester Sontag (of the Fels Institute) on the floor of an SRCD meeting. She often stated that important understanding could be gained from a study of personal documents, especially diaries and memoirs. It strikes me now that serious attention to biographical method in psychology might help us maintain humanistic sympathies and sensitivities in a manipulative, variable-oriented discipline. It might inject into our research and practice an appreciation of the resilience and essential buoyancy of human personality and a fundamental respect for the integrity of the person in all her or his efforts to sort out the self.

In my lifetime developmental psychology has expanded to include aging as a process coextensive with growth and therefore as a phase of the life cycle. Medical science tends to regard old age as a disease to be cured; similarly, public policy considers aging as a social problem to be solved. Might developmental psychology moderate this discontinuity by borrowing concepts from the humanities and from the less positivistic aspects of social science? As an aged educator-psychologist I raise this final question.


References

Barfield, O. ( 1952). Poetic diction. London: Faber and Faber.

Dashiell, J. E ( 1928). Fundamentals of objective psychology. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

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A History of Developmental Psychology in Autobiography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • References x
  • 1 - Louise Bates Ames 1
  • Notes 21
  • References 21
  • 2 - James Emmett Birren 24
  • References 44
  • 3 - Marie Skodak Crissey 46
  • Notes 69
  • Representative Publications 69
  • 4 - David Elkind 71
  • References 83
  • 5 - Dale B. Harris 84
  • References 103
  • 6 - Lois Wladis Hoffman 105
  • References 119
  • 7 - Çiǧdem KaǧitçebaŞi 121
  • Notes 133
  • Representative Publications 133
  • 8 - Lewis P. Lipsitt 137
  • References 158
  • 9 - Paul Mussen 161
  • References 177
  • 10 - Seymour Wapner 180
  • Notes 199
  • References 199
  • About the Book and Editors 209
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