Can the stories we tell about ourselves to others redeem us at the same time that they define us as Americans? Actions do speak louder than words, but is it possible that they mask our motives, including fears regarding our own mortality? Race and ethnicity are now integral elements in psychology education, but are there ways to make these topics more engaging to students? Education is about forming students, but isn't it also about forming ourselves as teachers?
These timely questions will be posed and addressed in the convention's G. Stanley Hall Lectures, in which speakers seek to explain how their basic research can advance the teaching of psychology and highlight the science underlying it. Founded in 1980 to advance the teaching of introductory psychology and named for psychology pioneer and first APA President Granville Stanley Hall (1844-1924), the lectures are sponsored annually by APA's Education Directorate and co-sponsored by APA's Div. 2 (Society for the Teaching of Psychology) and the Council of Teachers of Undergraduate Psychology. (For a brief biography of Hall and details and history on the Hall Lectures, visit www.ithaca.edu/beins/gsh/gsh.htm.)
In Honolulu, the lecturers and their talks will be:
Dan P. McAdams, PhD, Northwestern University, "The redemptive self: generativity and the stories Americans live by," Friday, July 30, 10 a.m.
Tom Pyszczynski, PhD, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, "Why do we need what we need? Searching for the motive beneath the motives," Saturday, July 31, 10 a.m.
Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, Harvard Medical School, "Teaching about race and ethnicity: focus on ideas and human beings," Saturday, July 31, 11 a.m.
The fourth of the lectures is most squarely focused on teaching and is named in honor of another pioneering American psychologist, Harry Kirke Wolfe (1858-1915), a renowned educator and the second American to receive a doctorate under Wilhelm Wundt's supervision. This year's Wolfe Lecturer is Jill Reich, PhD, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Bates College, and a former executive director for education at APA. She will deliver her talk, "The aims of education," Friday, July 30, at 11 a.m.
Stories of redemption and generativity: American perspectives
Generativity is the term Erik Erikson used to describe adults' drive to promote the well-being of future generations by giving of themselves and leaving some psychosocial gifts behind. Dan McAdams has long been interested in the relationship of generativity to the narratives people use--the stories they tell themselves and others--to explain the development of their personalities and to give their lives meaning and purpose.
His recent research examines how highly generative middle-aged American adults tell redemptive stories, in which an individual eventually escapes suffering and evolves into an enhanced emotional state. McAdams will discuss how these stories of midlife selves reflect a concern with making positive contributions to society. He will discuss both prized and disputed cultural themes from American life, including Americans as "the chosen people" who are blessed with a "manifest destiny."
At Northwestern, McAdams teaches courses in personality, adulthood and aging, theories of human development and the literatures of identity and generativity. He is also director of the Foley Center for the Study of Lives at the university.
The author of many articles and books, McAdams's latest work is "The Redemptive Self: The Stories Americans Live By," forthcoming from Oxford University Press.
Motives for managing the ultimate anxiety
Human beings have needs that make living meaningful, create favorable self-images and enhance close relations with other people. Intriguingly, such needs may also serve the purpose of dampening existential worry, finds Tom Pyszczynski. He has spent much of his research career exploring the implications of terror-management theory, the idea that humans impute meaning to experience to blunt the anxiety associated with awareness of the inevitability of mortality.
In his talk, Pyszczynski will review research revealing that death anxiety has a surprising amount of influence over behaviors that seem unrelated to death. Indeed, results point to a role for unconscious motives, and Pyszczynski will link them to existential issues and a larger collection of psychological phenomena.
Pyszczynski, a social psychologist, developed terror-management theory with fellow psychologists and frequent co-authors Sheldon Solomon, PhD, and Jeff Greenberg, PhD. Pyszczynski's own research is concerned with the human need for self-esteem and meaning, as well as defense mechanisms, unconscious processes, anxiety and depression. He is the co-author of several books, including "In the Wake of 9/11: The Psychology of Terror" (APA, 2003).
Humanity and teaching on race
The changing demographics of the United States make teaching about race and ethnicity a challenging enterprise. Jessica Henderson Daniel meets the challenge by relying on a variety of teaching techniques that bring diversity issues to life in the classroom. She often couples academic topics with live presentations or documentaries in which individuals share their real-life experiences with students.
In her convention talk, Henderson Daniel will explain why the discipline of psychology will increasingly need specialists--educators, practitioners, researchers and policy-makers--who realize the importance of conveying accurate information about race and ethnicity to an ever-changing nation.
Henderson Daniel is past-president of APA's Div. 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women), the senior member of APA's Ad Hoc Committee on Early Career Psychologists and a second-term member of APA's Council of Representatives. She founded and directed "Next Generation," a program aimed at increasing the number of black women who conduct research focused on adolescents. This innovative project was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Kellogg Foundation and the Harvard Medical School Dean's Office. Her writing focuses on adolescent girls and black women, especially their experiences with trauma; her most recent publication is "The Complete Guide to Mental Health for Women" (Beacon Press, 2003), which she co-edited.
In her talk, Jill Reich will invite the audience to consider what it is that educators do when they educate students. Education is more than instilling facts, figures and theories, she will argue--teachers must display a critical and curious mind, knowledge about subject matter and skill in transforming thoughts into actions to develop students into interested and independent thinkers.
Reich will posit that, thus, teachers must develop--and continue to develop--their own habits of mind at the same time they try to instill these skills into students. In discussing these issues, Reich will tackle the question of how we educate and why.
Reich earned her doctorate in experimental psychology and spent the early part of her career doing research in developmental psychology. She has contributed widely to the research literature in psychology and held a variety of administrative posts in higher education before serving for four years as the executive director of education at APA.
In that post, she emphasized the importance of preparing future faculty in psychology, enhancing psychologists' career opportunities in different venues, promoting the use of technology in the discipline and enhancing partnership opportunities among psychologists, business and community groups.Each of the 2004 G.S. Hall speakers will also present their talks at a regional psychology conference over the next year.
Dr. Dana S. Dunn is a Moravian College psychology professor and chair of the 2004 G. Stanley Hall Selection Committee.