Roberta Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek: On Becoming Brilliant

This is the latest in a series of interviews with APA Books authors and editors. For this interview, Susan Herman, Development Editor Consultant for APA Books, talked with Roberta Golinkoff of University of Delaware and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek of Temple University and the Brookings Institution.

golinkoffRoberta Michnick Golinkoff, PhD, obtained her bachelor’s degree at Brooklyn College, her PhD at Cornell University, and was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at the Learning Research and Development Center of the University of Pittsburgh. She is the Unidel H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Education and professor of psychology and of linguistics and cognitive science at the University of Delaware.

hirsch-pasekKathryn Hirsh-Pasek, PhD, is the Stanley and Debra Lefkowitz Distinguished Faculty Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Temple University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Her research examines the development of early language and literacy, as well as the role of play in learning. With her long-term collaborator, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, she is the author of 12 books and hundreds of publications.

 “I enjoyed working with this dynamic author team on their APA LifeTools book, Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children.  (The book has been widely discussed in academic circles and national media, and is already an Amazon bestseller.)  One of the reasons I enjoyed it so much is that I felt like the book was actually for me: a mom to two school-age kids! Also, I loved getting emails like this: “We’ll get back to you soon about the edits. We’re away at a conference now and Kathy is filming her flash mob this afternoon.” –Susan Herman

How long have the two of you been collaborating?

KHP: Roberta and I have been working together 37 years. We have lasted longer than most marriages. We would have each been good as solo scientists, but when you have a wonderful working relationship it actually feeds creativity. And I think it also feeds the product.

How did you come from developmental science, primarily working with young children, into looking at school-age children and what’s happening in K-12 education?

KHP: The book isn’t only about K-12. It really is about 0-99. If we want to prepare an educated citizenry of the future, we need to think not only about what’s going on in the schools but also what’s going on outside the schools, in the communities in which children live. If we think of education as only taking place inside the school walls, then we’re missing literally 80 percent of the waking time of children.

This book is really more about redefining education for the 21st century. It poses this central question: what counts as success? When our children grow up, what do we want of them as a society?

What I believe the 21st century answer ought to be is: we want happy, healthy, social, caring, and thinking children today, who are going to grow up to be compassionate, collaborative, critically thinking, creatively innovative, and responsible citizens of tomorrow.

What skills do you need to achieve that? You have to work backwards, reverse engineer it. The business community has been screaming for this for the better part of a decade. We want to reduce inequities and we want [education] to dovetail with the skills you need in the workplace.

Do we want to let [standardized] tests tell society what we can and cannot value? Or do we want to figure out what we value and find ways to see how children learn?

 

I saw an ad for an online learning company that says, “Each child is uniquely brilliant.” Is brilliant a buzzword now? What does it mean to be brilliant?

RG: We’re not about making people exceptional. We want to call attention to the fact that children have a vast range of capabilities, and while we’re mostly teaching content in the schools—and content is great, it’s got to be there—we must broaden what we do.

Because in this new world, it isn’t enough to be brilliant in the classic sense of getting straight A’s. Those people don’t necessarily get the jobs now. What matters for kids is to develop all the skills that will help them be better people.

For me, that’s number one—I want to create menschen. I want to create citizens who are members of their community and who play well together, who will function at a high level in their society. We want to help children get the jobs of the future.

For example, if we’re talking about how manufacturing plants are shutting down and the jobs are moving overseas, we’re not getting it—the nature of the workforce needs to change! The jobs that are going overseas are factory jobs. The jobs that are taking over in America are the high-level jobs.

We need to help our children find the jobs of the future, many of which haven’t been invented yet. We need to educate for the higher-level jobs that we are presently importing people to do because we don’t have enough people who can do them.

In your book, you conceptualize learning as consisting of six skills, the “Six C’s”: Collaboration, Communication, Content, Critical Thinking, Creative Innovation, and Confidence. How do you measure the Six Cs?

KHP: Roberta and I suggest that we can give you a profile of skills, using our Six C Grid [shown below]. What’s cool about the grid is that every one of us can look at ourselves and create a profile for ourselves on the six skills.

 

6 Cs6 Cs

Collaboration is how we learn to communicate. Content builds on communication, our ability to listen, to talk, to have a vocabulary. You’re never going to be a great reader if you don’t have good language skills. And yet we’re starting our tests with reading, not with language. You can do letter-sound correspondence until you’re blue in the face but if you can’t translate sounds into a word that you know, then all of it is moot.

We have too much information—everybody’s talking about big data. But if you can’t sift your way through, then you’re not going to be able to use the content effectively.

Creative innovation teaches you how to use that content that you just critically thought about. So you can use that information to change tomorrow.

Kids need confidence to give it a whirl. We have beaten children into just giving us right answers. The creators of the world—the Edisons, the Steve Jobs—they failed many times before they succeeded.

None of these exists in a vacuum. They build on one another to create a profile of learning.

RG: We’re not arguing that we need a new curriculum for the Six Cs. We’re taking the position that, once you’re aware of these skill sets, you can think about how the assignments you’re creating for your class are building collaboration, confidence, creativity.

Let’s talk about Confidence. One recurring conversation I have with friends who are parents starts with, “Do you let your kid…?” Ride his bike to the park alone? Set up her own YouTube account? That kind of thing. How can parents leverage risk to help their kids build confidence?

RG: The New Albany, Ohio chief of police is now advising parents not to let kids go outside on their own until they’re 16. This is crazy, but not uncommon. This sort of thing happens nowadays for two reasons. One, no one goes on the news and says, “Sally had a good day today. She walked to the library by herself!” The media focuses on the bad stuff and this is the kind of stuff that goes around [on social media].

Two, parents are more fearful. Economic shifts have been profound in recent years and have made people worry that their children will have lesser lifestyles than they did. And this makes them focus more on stuffing that content in the kid, over developing the other skills that kids need.

The way it should work is that little by little, children are given more responsibility for taking care of themselves. Doing errands is the first kind of responsibility, and your kid will want to do it because it’s a way of showing that they’re growing up. Of course, you first have to have a conversation with your kids about how to not go with strangers, and about how to use other adults to help you if someone’s bugging you.

KHP: What do you do when your kid comes home [from the errand]? He has an essay for homework. Do you allow your child to have his own voice, as long as he backs it up? Or does he stick pretty close to the book review he’s supposed to do, “This is what A says, this is what B says…” Push him a little further and say, “what’s your take?”

You encourage him to try that experiment. As long as it’s safe. I remember something my kids wanted to do—they wanted to put water in the sink and add electricity to make a lightning bolt! Other than that one, I was OK with [their experiments].

When your child comes home from soccer and says, I don’t want to do that anymore, are you the kind of person who says, “OK well we’re not going back there anymore!” The lesson, when you stay with it, is confidence.

Everything’s a risk-benefit. Some things you may not want them to take apart, like the television. But you can say “We have this old blender—why not take apart that and see how that works?” Or you can say, “there’s this guy who’s been repairing watches forever. Why not go see what he does?”

How can parents advocate for their schools to teach the Six Cs?

KHP: You can evaluate your child’s classroom based on the Six C grid. The grid becomes almost like a map for us to ask, how are we doing as parents? What do we want from our children? How are we providing opportunities to allow them to get to that goal?

RG: Each chapter in the book has a section called Taking Action where we talk about how to create environments that foster each skill, and we give very concrete suggestions. [We want] to awaken parents’ consciousness to what they need to do to help their children be good, productive people.

And we don’t need to keep it a secret from our kids. We often don’t even talk to our kids about the kinds of things we hope they will get out of school. We can tell them why we want them to do x, y, z. We need to let the kids in on it, have this pervade the culture. It would be so much better than just emphasizing the content, which is giving kids stomachaches when they take these high stakes tests. It’s a culture shift that we’re going for.

 

Introducing APA Style CENTRAL

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is perhaps our most well-known book, though it is often referred to as “APA format” or as the “APA Style guide.” APA Books is proud to announce the launch of APA Style CENTRAL, a revolutionary new electronic resource for APA Style. Free trials are available today for institutions. If you are a student or faculty member interested in this resource, please contact your institutional library.

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What is Psycholinguistics?

RKelaher

by Chris Kelaher

 

Psycholinguistics is the scientific combination of psychology and linguistics. According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology 2ed (Washington DC: American Psychological Association, 2015):

 

Psycholinguistics n. a branch of psychology that employs formal linguistic models to investigate language use and the cognitive processes that accompany it. Developmental psycholinguistics is the formal term for the branch that investigates LANGUAGE ACQUISITION in children. In particular, various models of GENERATIVE GRAMMAR have been used to explain and predict language acquisition in children and the production and comprehension of speech by adults. To this extent, psycholinguistics is a specific discipline, distinguishable from the more general area of psychology of language, which encompasses many other fields and approaches.

Other sources frame the term more broadly, however, locating it within the wider scope of cognitive science. Dictionary.com defines psycholinguistics as “the study of the relationship between language and the cognitive or behavioral characteristics of those who use it.” And in the APA Encyclopedia of Psychology (2000), Maria D. Sera tells us that:

Psycholinguistics is the study of human language processing, involving a range of abilities, from cognition to sensorimotor activity, that are recruited to the service of a complex set of communicative functions. It is related to the traditional academic disciplines of linguistics, psychology, education, anthropology, and philosophy, and particularly the cross-disciplinary areas of speech science, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, neurolinguistics, and language learning, teaching, and rehabilitation.

speech-bubblesIn his book Psycholinguistics 101 (Springer Publishing Co., 2011), H. Wind Cowles writes: “Psycholinguistics asks the question: How is it that people are able, moment-by-moment, to produce and understand language? …. How do children come to have this ability? How and why is it sometimes impaired after brain damage?”

How widely used is the term “psycholinguistics”? Well, typing the word into the Google search engine produces about 500,000 results. To give you some context, the term “psychotherapy” produces 35.5 million results while “neuroscience” produces over 41 million. So while the term is certainly not a state secret, it does not have the broad currency of many more established concepts within psychology. But it is a field growing in interest and significance, and we are excited to increase our offerings in the field of psycholinguistics.

To that effect, APA Books is collaborating with De Gruyter Mouton, a leading international publisher of linguistics and communication science, on a new book series. Language and the Human Lifespan will feature the best contemporary research in psycholinguistics. This month marks the release of the first title in the series, Bilingualism across the Lifespan: Factors Moderating Language Proficiency, co-edited by University of Alberta psychologist Elena Nicoladis and Simona Montanari, a linguist at Cal State, Los Angeles.

The Language and the Human Lifespan Series will be essential for all who work in or are interested in the porous disciplinary boundaries of psychology and linguistics, drawing on top-flight researchers from both fields. Future titles in the series will cover such topics as autism and language, research methods for studying language acquisition, and the concept of entrenchment—the ongoing reorganization and adaptation of communicative knowledge.

 

William Gunn: The Collaborative Psychotherapist

William B. Gunn, Jr., PhD is a licensed psychologist and family therapist currently practicing in New Hampshire. He is coauthor (with Nancy Breen Ruddy and Dorothy Borresen) of The Collaborative Psychotherapist: Creating Reciprocal Relationships with Medical Professionals, published by APA Books in 2008 as part of its Psychologists in Independent Practice Series.

Gunn, Ruddy, and Borresen provide step-by-step guidance on how psychotherapists can work with their medical colleagues on a routine basis. They interview four veteran therapists and one medical doctor, each of whom provides valuable insight into collaborating successfully.

In a PsycCRITIQUES review of The Collaborative Psychotherapist, Jeffrey E. Barnett wrote, “This book provides a well-articulated rationale in support of the need for collaborative psychotherapy. … [It] is an important contribution that should be read by all practicing psychotherapists.”

Watch Gunn discuss this important work:

A transcript of this video is available.

 

 

Casey Taft: On Non-Violence

This is the latest in a series of interviews with APA Books authors and editors. For this interview, Andrew Gifford, Development Editor at APA Books, interviewed Casey T. Taft of the National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, and Boston University School of Medicine.

Casey Taft

Casey T. Taft, Ph.D. is a staff psychologist at the National Center for PTSD in the VA Boston Healthcare System, and Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Taft was the 2006 Young Professional Award winner from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the 2009 Linda Saltzman Memorial Intimate Partner Violence Researcher Award winner. He has served or is currently serving as Principal Investigator on funded grants focusing on understanding and preventing intimate partner violence through the National Institute of Mental Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Defense, and the Blue Shield of California Foundation. Dr. Taft has published over 100 empirical papers and book chapters, chaired an American Psychological Association task force on trauma in the military, and consulted with the United Nations on preventing violence and abuse globally.

In addition to the book discussed in this interview, Dr. Taft is also the guest host of Intimate Partner Violence, a Psychotherapy Training Video available on DVD.

In your work with veterans suffering from PTSD, you managed to create something unique, as far as I know:  a model for treating interpersonal violence (IPV) that addresses both perpetrators and victims. How did you come up with this idea?  Could you tell us about the development of this model?  

Our model is trauma-informed in that we account for and discuss the role of trauma throughout the entire assessment and therapy process. What we’ve found is that when we give space for the perpetrator to discuss prior traumatic events, not only does this help set the stage for developing a positive therapeutic alliance and enhance motivation, but it can be healing in and of itself. While our program is not a trauma treatment per se, we do have some evidence that those who receive the program are themselves healing from trauma while they’re also much less likely to inflict trauma upon others. The goal of our program is to stop the cycle of trauma, and we do that be increasing an understanding of trauma and its impacts, and really focusing on how our prior experiences influence how we interpret various situations and our relationship partners.

You’ve noted that many models of IPV treatment do not take trauma into consideration at all. What inspired you to change that, with your model?

 Trauma-informed intervention is increasingly the standard of care for all kinds of problems that might lead someone to treatment, and it stands to reason that we should be doing the same with those who use violence in their relationships. In fact, trauma-informed intervention may be even more important with this population since more than half of those who engage in partner abuse have been abused themselves growing up or observed their parents abusing each other. While almost everyone in the partner violence field acknowledges high rates of trauma in this population, and there seems to be a growing belief that we should be educated about trauma, this hasn’t necessarily translated into specific evidence-based trauma-informed approaches. Especially when we consider that interventions to prevent and end intimate partner violence have not been particularly effective, and other research showing that trauma and PTSD are associated with violence through their influence on how we interpret our social worlds, this seemed like an obvious direction to go.

In your new book Trauma-Informed Treatment and Prevention of Intimate Partner Violence, you and co-authors Christopher M. Murphy and Suzannah K. Creech discuss the importance of a positive therapeutic process. Could you elaborate on what you mean by that phrase? What are some ways that practitioners can adopt a positive approach?

By positive therapeutic process, we’re referring to facilitating positive therapist-client relationships, motivation for ending the abuse, and engagement in the treatment process in general. Historically in partner violence intervention, there has been a tendency to downplay the importance of these factors, with intervention strategies that may be considered overly confrontational and shaming. This is unfortunate because when we’re working with a trauma-exposed population, they may have difficulty trusting and joining with providers. Therefore, taking a more alliance-enhancing and motivational approach may go a long way towards enhancing our ability to reach violent individuals and help them end their violence. In fact, my dissertation research from long ago showed that when we are able to build a positive working alliance and facilitate group cohesion, those who are in partner violence intervention are less violent and abusive to their partners after program completion.

The programs you’ve developed to end domestic violence in military service members have seen terrific successes and have been adopted by many hospitals and clinics. How do you feel, seeing your work take root in so many places?

It feels amazing, to be honest. So many people have worked really hard to get us to this point. We spent over eight years running randomized controlled trials where we developed our violence prevention programs and evaluated them. Ours are the first programs shown to be effective for this population through controlled trials so we truly believe we are onto something important with this work. To be able to then help with implementing these programs across the VA healthcare system and within the military is exactly what we were hoping for when we began this endeavor. Our vision for the next phase of our clinical research program is to do the same thing with a civilian population. We have every reason to believe that a trauma-informed violence prevention intervention would similarly work for a civilian population.

As a vegan, you’ve written about how you want to promote non-violence towards animals, and echo a similar message of positivity when it comes to our treatment of all living creatures. Do you see violence as a systemic problem in our society?  Are there things we can do in our own lives to help prevent violence, whether on an interpersonal level or more broadly?

We know that when children are violent to animals, it’s a warning sign for problems with interpersonal violence down the road. Similarly, when we sanction unnecessary violence towards other sentient beings in any form, it promotes the view that violence is acceptable. I do see violence as a systemic problem in our society. Violence in many forms towards both human and nonhuman animals is all around us, and I believe that a pro-intersectional framework is required to understand that various forms of violence and injustice are all inter-connected, and all violence stems from the idea that some lives matter less than others, or that some are lesser. It’s quite amazing that all three of the authors for this book are vegan and share this pro-intersectional worldview.