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ERIC Number: EJ919267
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 10
ISSN: ISSN-0954-0253
Commentary on Susan Isaacs
Burman, Erica
Gender and Education, v23 n2 p211-213 2011
The task of re-evaluating the legacy of Susan Isaacs is a complex one. Of course there is the need to acknowledge the role and work of a key woman thinker and (in some senses) activist, clearly unconventional and forward-thinking, whose specific contribution seems to have been largely overlooked by malestream history. As a contemporary to some of the key British thinkers of the twentieth century, living amongst the Bloomsbury group and, in relation to her specific work around children, devoting her considerable energies to popularising the work of others (including Jean Piaget and Winnicott), her intellectual biography makes for fascinating reading. Her under-rated role as a key developer and advocate of child-centred education seems overdue for recognition. Isaacs was that rare blend of many professions: (1) a teacher; (2) a childhood researcher; and (3) a psychoanalyst. She was clearly a pioneer in her views about how best to engage with children, including educationally. Her work and writings stand at a key moment in the history of psychoanalysis, in the move from adult retrospections of childhood and the various causalities and traumata with which they were attributed, to the formulation of models of working with children and families as they and their pathologies develop. This involved some complex thinking and re-thinking within the psychoanalytic movement about the relationship between phantasy and reality, in order to take seriously the actual conditions of children's lives. Isaacs engaged with and addressed the prime ideas being formulated at the time, as also a protagonist, around assessment of child development as well as children's emotional needs and their consequences, ranging from Gesell to Klein and beyond. Right now there is a widespread interest in the role of emotions in research and educational contexts. For feminists of course, this has been a longstanding concern from the early days of second-wave feminism through subscription to the "personal as political". And now--among other factors accounting for this--the poststructural turn has rehabilitated psychoanalysis as a key ingredient within adequate models of (teacher and student) subjectivities. But the rise of psychosocial studies across the human and social sciences demands some more thoughtful analysis before one assimilates Isaacs into this project as a prescient foremother. In this article, the author explores this further.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Adult Education; Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A