The Course of Developmental Psychology
Not every psychologist fits the mold of traditional academia, teaching and conducting research for the sake of scientific knowledge alone. There have been several who have broken away from this stereotypical role and forged new ground, not only in the name of science, but also for the sake of human kind. Two such psychologists were Dr. Edward Zigler (2003), a Yale professor, and Dr. Howard Gardner (2003), a Harvard graduate. Both men became trailblazers in developmental psychology and key contributors to successful research and implementation of programs related to developmental psychology. Both men experienced harsh criticism by their academic peers, accused of having a lack of loyalty to the traditions of the profession. However, both men regarded their respective paths as important contributions to science and humanity. They would both prove their unorthodox approaches not only enhanced the science, but also bridged a gap between science and social action.
Dr. Edward Zigler (2003) defined himself as a basic scientist “trained in empirical methodology, hypothesis testing and theory building” (p. 276) to, which is the foundation of his professional accomplishments. He pioneered the discipline of developmental psychopathology with his theoretical study of social experiences, (or lack thereof), being the driving difference between mentally retarded and non-retarded individuals, rather than differences in cognitive structures. This paved the way for his involvement in the committee that established the national Head Start Program under President Johnson. His work at the Bush Center, that he helped found, was also important to the progression of child development and to bridging basic and applied science. His work eventually helped other scientists realize the significance of integrating basic science and applied science such as in policymaking.
As a fellow cognitive developmental psychologist, Dr. Howard Gardner(2003), also focused his interests to benefit education and child development. One of his primary works was proving artistic and creative thought as dominant factors in the science of cognitive thought. It was his belief that the abovementioned accomplishments along with studying the abilities of multi-intelligent minds were his main contributions to psychology (p. 83).
Both of these men strived within their respective professions to incorporate the fundamentals of basic science with applied science, and while their pathways differed the criticism they received for their methods did not. Zigler (2003) used his empirical research training to influence successful social policies for child development such as Head Start. Much of his career was spent working in policymaking, not revered well with his colleagues in academia. Gardner’s (2003) research on multiple intelligences peaked interest from the education world. He carried out more private research than Zigler as well as churned out many books and articles on the subjects of his curiosity. However, his academia colleagues criticized him for writing too many books and not researching enough. He also was criticized for being what one could call a jack of all psychological trades, with no lengthy focus in one particular discipline.
Despite peer criticism, Zigler still believed himself a psychologist in his own right despite criticism from colleagues (Zigler 2003). In contrast, Gardner (2003) perceived himself as many things, not just a psychologist, and probably more importantly a writer, then a humanist, and artist. His hope was to be seen as an ambassador between cognitive and developmental psychology (p. 86).
Gardner was definitely a non-conformist who danced to the beat of his own drum and did not allow any criticism, peer related or otherwise, to deter his own