Teaching Developmental Psychology as a Theoretical and Philosophical Psychologist

March 7, 2012

I am currently teaching a childhood developmental psychology course using the textbook Theories of Developmental Psychology (5th ed.) by Patricia H. Miller.  This text is unique in that the author takes a theoretical, rather than a categorical (i.e., biological, cognitive, social, etc. development) or chronological (i.e., prenatal to adolescent development), approach to explicating the foundations of and current research trends in developmental psychology.  The author’s approach is commendable for giving preference to theory, which often appears to be displaced by method.  This might be a useful book for theoretical and philosophical psychologists who instruct developmental psychology courses because of the emphasis on theory and the author’s critical approach.  However, the author’s critical framework is narrower than many theoretical psychologists might employ, which means that she doesn’t give developmental psychology a philosophical treatment.  But theoretical and philosophical psychologists can use this to their advantage by challenging their students to question the theories in ways that the author doesn’t.  In this way, the text’s examination of theories can become an avenue for the exploration of philosophies.  This approach has worked for me and my students.  If others have ideas about how to teach developmental psychology as a theoretical and philosophical psychologist, I would love to trade notes.

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