At this time of year, many students are graduating and beginning their careers in psychology--a joyous time for individuals and their families and for our profession. (I recall completion of my own doctoral degree, now many years back. Those were very exciting times; my father had just helped to unload the Mayflower and what is now called New England then was referred to as the "Wild West.") As psychologists, we vary widely in areas of work, jobs, settings and interests. Yet we share training, education and a life-long commitment to learning.
Education provides a bridge to the future of our profession. The portfolio of educational activities, under the charge of APA's Education Directorate and in collaboration with other directorates, ensures that the bridge is strong, connects many sectors within psychology and society, and can sway with the winds of change and scientific progress. We are well familiar with such APA educational functions such as the publication of Graduate Study in Psychology, accreditation of professional education and training programs, and development of continuing education programs--all important, but just a few fish in a large school of activities that moves with the tides.
APA education initiatives encompass K-12 through postgraduate training. For example, for high schools and in close collaboration with teachers, teaching modules on core psychology topics are provided for classroom use by instructors who may have had little or no formal training in psychology. For high school and two- and four-year colleges, APA's Online Psychology Laboratory provides 24 experiments that facilitate active student participation and data evaluation (http://opl.apa.org). Other resources include a Speaker's Bureau of our members who volunteer to speak at high school and community colleges (www.apa.org/ed/topss/speakerbureau.html) and a Cyberguide for the Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes (www.apa.org/ed/guidehomepage.html).
At the graduate level, APA supports the Preparing Future Faculty program (www.apa.org/ed/pff.html) as well as activities that define and benchmark competencies in professional education and training. We are deeply interested in developing an ethnically and culturally diverse workforce and support a high school minority mentorship program and an initiative to enable program directors to recruit candidates at the Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology annual meetings.
At the postdoctoral level, with U.S. Department of Education funding, APA developed a program that matches new psychologists to experienced researchers for intensive two-year training and mentorship in school-based research. Fellows who complete the program contribute directly to psychological science for our nation's schools. We have much to contribute to the design of education as well as the preparation of future teachers. An online course in classroom management currently is in preparation to help current and future teachers from pre-K through 12th grade.
Learning is a life-long process for all psychologists and APA provides opportunities to make this possible. One example is an Online Academy that includes Web-based courses; another is the 80 workshops scheduled for APA's August convention in Boston on a wide range of topics (e.g., evidence-based treatments, forensic assessment, ethics and law, advanced topics in statistics and research methods). Learning and education of nonpsychologists are just as critical. Educational materials are designed for the public on topics that affect daily life (e.g., day care, marital relations, and stress) and for other disciplines (e.g., dentistry, law and environmental science) that rely heavily on psychology.
Educational activities have critical implications that extend beyond learning and enrichment. As one example, APA has helped establish the Center for Deployment Psychology that has trained over 600 military and civilian health professionals to serve the needs of returning military and their families (www.apa.org/ppo/education/cdpdes.html). That success led the Department of Defense to incorporate and continue to fund the program.
To make these and other activities come to fruition, less visible background work and collaborations (e.g., national surveys, conferences with teachers throughout the country, consensus meetings to set standards, student recognition awards, and obtaining federal grants to help educational institutions) are required. Advocacy is critical to the process to ensure psychology education is at the table in national and international discussions and for such programs as graduate training internships and special programs to enhance minority participation.
As individuals and families celebrate the accomplishments that graduation signals, I thought it would be timely to mention a few accomplishments of our own as an organization and in behalf of all psychologists. And to you, Happy Anniversary on the occasion of your own degree that has brought us together in shared priorities and commitments. For those of you who are almost there, we eagerly await your company.