Twentieth Century Psychology: Recent Developments in Psychology

By Philip Lawrence Harriman | Go to book overview

TRENDS IN CHILD PSYCHOLOGY*

HORACE B. ENGLISH

Ohio State University

A bird's eye view of the progress of a science, or of some part of it, seems comparatively easy until one is required to correlate it with the worm's-eye view. Then details previously overlooked cast doubt upon the broader generalizations. Yet both the generalizations and the correlation are needed.

Specific dates are among the details which obscure trends. Let us refuse here to be too precise. About two decades or so ago the interest in child psychology was systematic-genetic. It was hoped, that is, to find in the behavior of children the general principles needed to explain adult behavior. The function of speech in adults, for example, could only be understood in the light of its development in infants and children. One uses the plural here deliberately; it was the study not of the individual infant or child but of the general development of infants and children which was the focus of attention. Although most textbooks were written for prospective teachers, the categories under which the facts were listed were the categories of adult systematic psychology, not those of the problems which present themselves in school or home. Child psychology was supposed to help the teacher only in a general way--and did so. Experimental data were rather meager except in a few restricted fields.

Meanwhile, a number of things were happening which were to influence the subject. The testing of intelligence was providing

____________________
*
A revision of an article originally published in the EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH BULLETIN, Vol. 15, 1936.

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