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A Sense of History

Posted on January 7, 2008

Studying the history of work in the field will make you a better mentor and colleague, says Kenneth H. Rubin (bio).

 

Do good reading, and by that I mean, know your ancients so that you sound remotely intelligent when you yourself are mentoring others or working with others. So what we tend to do in our discipline is reinvent the wheel. We take constructs, put different labels on them, create slight nuances in measurement.

Know about what it is that other people have done historically so that when you use instruments, you know where they came from, when you have ideas, you feel pretty solid that you know the history of it. One of the problems, then, is that we have a bible in the field, and it’s the Handbook of Child Psychology.

And one of our difficulties now is that those handbooks, which used to be, up until the last version, used to be real historic documents in that they went back in time to create very strong literature reviews, are now condensed to the period of time from the last version. So then my best advice to young scholars is to read the old handbooks. Read the new ones to get the contemporary knowledge; read the old ones to get the sense of history.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2007 SRCD Biennial Meeting in Boston, MA.

References
Damon, W., & Lerner, R. M. (Eds.). (2006). Handbook of Child Psychology (Vols. 1-4). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Noshpitz, J. D., Greenspan, S., Wieder, S., & Osofsky, J. (Eds.). (1997). Handbook of Child Psychology (Vols. 1-4). New York: Wiley.

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