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Just a Click Away

By Dan Florell

Since the convention finished a couple of months ago, my head has been spinning about all of the new ideas and changes coming for the field. Before I became too overwhelmed with the pace of change in our field and how much more it would change in the next decade, I began to think about what sort of things have not changed as much. What is the constant that I can hang on to from the past that is still recognized now and in the future as school psychology?

Roughly 2 years ago, Jim Batts and I ventured out from Eastern Kentucky University to the bastion of all school psychology history at the University of Memphis and Tom Fagan. We spent a couple of days in Memphis and I was struck by how so much of the archives revealed that our field does not actually change as much at the core as we may think while working in the field.

This was driven home when I got to look through a room that contained most of the original intelligence tests and their various revisions. Many of the items would look familiar to practitioners today: We still have children create patterns and put together puzzles of one sort or another.

I thought that it was a shame that more NASP members were unable to see some of where we came from. It may make it easier to gain a perspective so that the changes in the field don’t seem as paradigm shifting as people claim. To that end, the NASP website (http://www.nasponline.org/history/index.aspx) has begun to accumulate items from our field’s past that can give practitioners a glimpse into the field’s earliest days and how we came to be where we are today.

A good place to start is viewing the historical time line of school psychology. From there you can see various historical documents, like the first Communiqué, or listen to Tom Fagan and Bill Pfohl describe various periods in the history of the profession. My favorite is the complete text of Gertrude Hildreth’s (1930) Psychological Services for School Problems, which was the first school psychology textbook. Hildreth opens her text with this line: "In progressive schools, the application of psychological principles and techniques to the study of educational problems is considered indispensable for the improvement of instruction and pupil adjustment."

I think I found part of the answer I was looking for regarding a core value of our field that has not changed over time. I encourage you to look for similar answers in the NASP history section of the website.


Dan Florell, PhD, NCSP, an assistant professor in the school psychology program at Eastern Kentucky University, is the NASP Webmaster.