Jan Drucker

Director, Child Development Institute’s Empowering Teachers Program

BA, Radcliffe College. PhD, New York University. Clinical and developmental psychologist with teaching and research interests in the areas of developmental and educational theory, child development, parent guidance, clinical assessment and therapy with children and adolescents, and the development of imaginative play and other symbolic processes in early childhood and their impact on later development. Professional writings have centered on various forms of early symbolization in development and in clinical work with children. SLC, 1972–

Undergraduate Courses 2018-2019

Psychology

Challenges to Development: Child and Adolescent Psychopathology

Intermediate/Advanced , Seminar—Spring

We live in a society that often seems preoccupied with labeling people and their characteristics as “normal” or “abnormal.” This course covers some of the material usually found in “Abnormal Psychology” courses by addressing the multiple factors that play a role in shaping a child’s development, particularly as those factors may result in what we think of as psychopathology. Starting with a consideration of what the terms “normality” and “pathology” may refer to in our culture, we will read about and discuss a variety of situations that illustrate different interactions of inborn, environmental, and experiential influences on developing lives. For example, we will read theory and case material addressing congenital conditions such as deafness and life events such as acute trauma and abuse, as well as the range of less clear-cut circumstances and complex interactions of variables that have an impact on growth and adaptation in childhood and adolescence. We will try, however, to bring both critical lenses and a range of individual perspectives to bear on our discussion of readings drawn from clinical and developmental psychology, memoir, and research studies. In this process, we will examine a number of the current conversations and controversies about assessment, diagnostic/labeling, early intervention, use of psychoactive medications, and treatment modalities. Students will be required to engage in fieldwork at the Early Childhood Center or elsewhere and may choose whether to focus conference projects on aspects of that experience.

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Related Disciplines

Personality Development

Advanced , Small seminar—Fall

A century ago, Sigmund Freud postulated a complex theory of the development of the person. While some aspects of his theory have come into question, many of the basic principles of psychoanalytic theory have become part of our common culture and worldview. This course will explore developmental concepts about how personality comes to be through reading and discussion of the work of key contributors to psychoanalytic developmental theory since Freud. We will trace the evolution of what Pine has called the “four psychologies of psychoanalysis”—drive, ego, object, and self-psychologies—as well as the more recent integrative “relational perspective.” This is a different approach from the social personality work done on trait psychology, and we will consider its value for developmental understanding of the person. We will also consider the issues that this approach raises about children’s development into individuals with unique personalities within broad, shared developmental patterns in a given culture. Readings will include the work of Anna Freud, Erik Erikson, Margaret Mahler, Daniel Stern, Steven Mitchell, Nancy Chodorow, and George Vaillant. Throughout the semester, we will return to fundamental themes such as the complex interaction of nature and nurture, the unanswered questions about the development of personal style, and the cultural dimensions of personality development. An interest in theory and its applications is important, as is some background in psychology. Fieldwork at the Early Childhood Center or another appropriate setting is required, although conference projects may or may not center on aspects of that experience, depending on the individual student’s interest.

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Related Disciplines

First-Year Studies: The Developing Child: Perspectives and Contexts

Open , FYS—Year

Developmental psychology often focuses on early childhood as the context in which the foundations of all kinds of later psychological functioning can be seen—from thinking and feeling and imagining to social interaction, attachment relationships, emotional life, and personality organization. This course is about how children develop from birth through adolescence, with special emphasis on the first seven years. We will look at this from various perspectives: the perspective of our own and other people’s memories of childhood—the perspective of experience; the perspective of what we see when we carefully watch children in natural settings and listen to their words—the perspective of observation; and the perspective of the concepts psychologists have formulated about development based on their empirical research and reflections—the perspective of theory. The various contexts in which children develop will be considered throughout the course. We will draw on various sources as we study the developing child. Readings will be drawn from developmental psychology (theory and research); from memoir and literature; from anthropology and cultural psychology; from education (addressing children’s learning processes and schooling); from clinical psychology (about the challenges children may face and how to help them); and from media accounts about children, childhood, and social policy. Reflections on our experiences, past and present, will begin the year and be returned to periodically. Observations of children will be ongoing, both formal ones as assigned periodically for class and informally every time we have the opportunity to see children. Fieldwork is a central and ongoing core of the course—each student will work all year in an Early Childhood Center (ECC) preschool classroom two mornings or afternoons a week, serving as part of the teaching team—being participant observers so as to have the best view possible of children’s individual development and ongoing lives at school. Previous experience with children is not required, but the desire to immerse oneself in children’s lives in the classroom is a must. Discussion will take place—in the seminar, before and after ECC class time with the teaching team, in conference, among classmates—about all you are reading and seeing and wondering about. Writing will include seminar writing assignments, from observations to short essays, and conference papers. Conference work first semester will draw on the fieldwork, with accompanying readings on a topic of individual interest. In the second semester, conference work may continue to focus on fieldwork but may also move away from it into various domains of developmental psychology.

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Related Disciplines

Graduate Courses

Child Development 2018-2019

Challenges to Development: Child and Adolescent Psychopathology

Graduate Seminar—Spring

We live in a society that often seems preoccupied with labeling people and their characteristics as “normal” or “abnormal.” This course covers some of the material usually found in “Abnormal Psychology” courses by addressing the multiple factors that play a role in shaping a child’s development, particularly as those factors may result in what we think of as psychopathology. Starting with a consideration of what the terms “normality” and “pathology” may refer to in our culture, we will read about and discuss a variety of situations that illustrate different interactions of inborn, environmental, and experiential influences on developing lives. For example, we will read theory and case material addressing congenital conditions such as deafness and life events such as acute trauma and abuse, as well as the range of less clear-cut circumstances and complex interactions of variables that have an impact on growth and adaptation in childhood and adolescence. We will try, however, to bring both critical lenses and a range of individual perspectives to bear on our discussion of readings drawn from clinical and developmental psychology, memoir, and research studies. In this process, we will examine a number of the current conversations and controversies about assessment, diagnostic/labeling, early intervention, use of psychoactive medications, and treatment modalities. Students will be required to engage in fieldwork at the Early Childhood Center or elsewhere and may choose whether to focus conference projects on aspects of that experience.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

Personality Development

Graduate Seminar—Fall

A century ago, Sigmund Freud postulated a complex theory of the development of the person. While some aspects of his theory have come into question, many of the basic principles of psychoanalytic theory have become part of our common culture and worldview. This course will explore developmental concepts about how personality comes to be through reading and discussion of the work of key contributors to psychoanalytic developmental theory since Freud. We will trace the evolution of what Pine has called the “four psychologies of psychoanalysis”—drive, ego, object, and self-psychologies—as well as the more recent integrative “relational perspective.” This is a different approach from the social personality work done on trait psychology, and we will consider its value for developmental understanding of the person. We will also consider the issues that this approach raises about children’s development into individuals with unique personalities within broad, shared developmental patterns in a given culture. Readings will include the work of Anna Freud, Erik Erikson, Margaret Mahler, Daniel Stern, Steven Mitchell, Nancy Chodorow, and George Vaillant. Throughout the semester, we will return to fundamental themes such as the complex interaction of nature and nurture, the unanswered questions about the development of personal style, and the cultural dimensions of personality development. An interest in theory and its applications is important, as is some background in psychology. Fieldwork at the Early Childhood Center or another appropriate setting is required, although conference projects may or may not center on aspects of that experience, depending on the individual student’s interest.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

Previous Courses

Play and Imagination in Early Childhood: Developmental, Educational, and Clinical Perspectives

Open , Seminar—Spring

Adults often look at children and say, “They are just playing.” Yet play is seen by developmental and clinical psychologists and educators as one of the richest domains of young children’s experience. It is in play that they explore the world, construct knowledge, try out ideas, develop social interaction and self-regulation, expand and test out creativity. In this course, students will reflect on their own play experiences, serve as participant observers in twice-weekly fieldwork at the Early Childhood Center campus laboratory preschool, and explore in seminar and written work the ideas of theorists and practitioners who see play as crucial to intellectual, as well as social-emotional, development. Among other topics, we will consider the cultural contexts of play, clinical uses of play in therapy, play and literacy development, and the current threats to children’s opportunities for deep play. Conference work may, but need not, center on some aspect of the fieldwork experience.

Faculty

The Developing Child: Theory and Observation

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course introduces students to the study of how children develop by considering the perspectives on the process afforded by the experience of one’s own life, careful observation of children in natural settings, and readings in developmental psychology. All students will carry out fieldwork at the Early Childhood Center and learn to observe the language and thought, play, social interaction, and evolving personalities of the preschool children with whom they work, taking into account the immediate context of their observations and the broader cultural contexts in which development is occurring. Readings for the seminar will be drawn from primary and secondary theoretical and research sources. Each student will carry out a conference project related to an aspect of development, often one connected to the fieldwork experience. All students must have two full mornings or afternoons a week free for fieldwork.

Faculty