G. STANLEY HALL AND THE TESTING MOVEMENT
G. Stanley Hall (1844-1924) was born in Ashfield, Massachusetts, in 1844. He was an American psychologist in the field of adolescence and an educator. He focused his attention on the educational needs of adolescents. He made numerous contributions to American education in psychology, including his leadership in the child study movement and his explorations into the theory of adolescents. Although he graduated from Williams College in 1867, he also studied at the Union Theological Seminary and Harvard University. He began his career by teaching English and philosophy at Antioch College in Ohio. From 1882-1888, he taught psychology at John Hopkins University, which was his institutional home until his retirement in 1920.
From 1880-1920, the high school was primarily college preparatory, emphasizing Latin, modern foreign languages, mathematics, science, English and history. However, Hall objected strongly to the college preparatory view, arguing that high school should be more concerned with the education of adolescents. The high school was the institutional extension of the elementary school. Hall and other educators began to view the high school as a school for adolescents rather than a strictly college preparatory institution.
In 1887, he founded the American Journal of Psychology. In 1889, he was named president of the newly founded Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Under his guidance considerable work was done in educational research at the university during its first 20 years. Hall was instrumental in the development of the new science of educational psychology. Hall's pioneering studies, Adolescence (1904) and Educational Problems (1911), described the implications of adolescent development on education.
In the late 19th Century, Hall was influenced by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. It provided an impetus for the scientific examination of child development. His emphasis on the survival behavior of different species stimulated an interest in observing children to identify their adaptive behaviors and to learn about the inheritance of human behavior. These studies were of limited scientific value because they lacked objectivity and often failed to describe adequately the behaviors being observed, making validation impossible. Evolution proceeds by the natural selection of adapted individuals over a span of many generations. Darwin observed that while offspring inherit a resemblance to their parents, they are not identical to them. The Evolutionary theory would broaden the scope of psychology and lead to a "genetic" analysis of the stages of human growth and development. (Gutek, Gerald. Education in the U.S.- An Historical Perspective. Prentice-Hall, 1986. Page 196.)
Scientific research in child development flourished from the early 1900's. Psychologists believed that capacities measured in testing or laboratory situations were also significant in everyday life. Where individuals analyze or apprehend new sensory and mental data so as to direct their actions toward desired goals they differ to the precise definition of the comprehensiveness and functions of intelligence. One major stimulus was the introduction in 1916 by the American psychologist Lewis Terman of the test known today as the Standford-Binet Intelligence Test. This test led to a number of studies about children's intellectual development. Dozens of leading universities began observational studies of children and their families, where the same children were observed and tested over a specific time period. This testing led many other psychologists to further their views and create other tests involving the measurement of a child's head, mental abilities, intellectual strengths and weaknesses and many others. Educators today use these tests, which include the General Aptitude Test Battery, Inkblot Test, and Thematic Apperception Test, in elementary, middle, and high schools.
Hall's achievements were his leadership in founding The American Journal of Psychology and the American Psychological Association. His major publications were Adolescence, and Aspects of Child Life and Education. He related child educational readiness to psychological and physiological stages of development. Each stage of a child's development, while distinct and unique, was necessarily related to the totality of human development. For each stage, there was appropriate learning and activities. Hall suggested a theme that the curriculum should come from the child and be based on his or her interests and needs. His pioneering efforts in psychology led the way for other psychologists to overlap with other areas of psychology, including child and adolescent development, social psychology, psychological testing and educational counseling.
Prepared by Christina Meiss