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A Progressive Education?How Childhood Changed in Mid-Twentieth-Century English and Welsh Schools$
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Laura Tisdall

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781526132895

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7765/9781526132901

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Stages of development, educational psychology and child-centred education

Stages of development, educational psychology and child-centred education

(p.50) 2 Stages of development, educational psychology and child-centred education
A Progressive Education?

Laura Tisdall

Manchester University Press

This chapter considers how teachers themselves engaged with developmental psychology both before and after the Second World War, demonstrating that they claimed to be mystified by key theorists such as Piaget, while unconsciously absorbing the language he used about childhood. By considering the thought of two dominant educational thinkers in Britain before 1945, the psychoanalyst Susan Isaacs and the educational psychologist Cyril Burt, this chapter shows that ideas about maturational developmental stages were resisted in inter-war Britain, and that this ambivalence was evident in teaching manuals and popular journals as well as in the more theoretical work of Burt and Isaacs. The adoption of developmental stages by child-centred educationalists was magnified by the practical reorganisation of schooling around chronological age from the 1930s onwards, emphasising the importance of ‘stages of development’ that were presumed to be closely linked to a particular age-group. This redefined both childhood and adolescence as fundamentally divided from adulthood, because young people were still progressing through a sequence of stages that would allow them to acquire full cognitive and emotional capacities.

Keywords:   Psychology, Teachers, Teacher training, Psychoanalysis, Childhood

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