Have you ever wondered where many Psychologists got their start or what hurdles they faced along the way? Let’s look at the journey of two such professionals. Howard Gardner (2003) and Edward Zigler (2003) both describe their journeys and their respected contributions to the field and beyond. Their paths were similar in many ways as both became valued contributors to the field of Psychology and new ways of looking at things.
Edward Zigler (2003) began his clinical journey in the 1950’s first studying the effects of rewards on rats and later trying to apply the same principals to preschool age children. Zigler went beyond just studying the children in the city and applied his assessments to mentally retarded children. He found that there were not many differences between the two groups but that the mentally retarded children responded to him and to the attention given to them during the study. These studies led Zigler to his “developmental” approach to those with mental retardation. This helped to form what is currently known as the field of developmental psychopathology. At the time of his studies, this was all considered unconventional. Zigler was essentially saying that the children’s experiences had more to do with their presentation than their cognitive deficits. Zigler was enlisted to be a part of project head start, a government run group that was designed to help impoverished children. It has impacted numerous children over the years since its inception in the 1960’s. Zigler’s contributions have been seen far beyond the Head Start program. Zigler and others planned and crafted hubs for preparing child development researchers who wanted to make a difference. At the time of the writing of Zigler (2003), only one of these hubs still existed, but what Edward Zigler set out to do has become more widely accepted in academia, even influencing the start of the applied developmental program at Fordham University. Zigler later contributed further to the field of development and child welfare by helping the start of two programs that are still active: Early Head Start and the Family and Medical Leave Act .
Zigler’s journey wasn’t always easy. He incurred some resistance along the way. His ideas that stemmed from his research with the mentally retarded children were met with resistance from the defect theorists. Zigler later met resistance in the form of policy makers in Washington D.C. Zigler quickly learned that policymakers and academic psychologists are quite diverse. While scholars find ways to assess ideas over and over again, policymakers are called to action. Over time, Zigler states that he was able to adapt to this difference (2003).
Howard Gardner (2003) began his journey in developmental psychology at Harvard College in the 1960’s. He developed an interest in this field due to some of the professors he saw there. The path that Gardner was on helped him to contribute to the field of developmental psychology in...