Jean Piaget Society News


OBITUARY: Michael Chandler (24 August 1938 – 28 January 2019)

With great sadness we report the loss of our friend and colleague Michael Chandler.

Michael is survived by his wife Alexandra and son Zack and siblings: Caroline, Stephen, David, and Debora, by a scattering of cousins; and by friends collected along the way.

Professor Chandler was trained as a developmental psychologist (though he preferred “genetic epistemologist”) at Grinnell College (1960); The University of California, Berkeley (1966); The University of Geneva (1967); The Menninger Foundation (1967-68); subsequently hired at the University of Rochester (1968-77) and eventually appointed Professor and later Professor Emeritus at The University of British Columbia.

Although always concerned with matters of social-cognitive development, his most recent program of research explored the role that culture plays in setting the course of identity development. In particular, his work has made it clear that both individual youth and whole communities that lose a sense of their own personal and cultural continuity are at special risk of suicide, and a host of other negative health outcomes.

These and other efforts earned Dr. Chandler the Killam Memorial Senior Research Prize, the Killam Teaching Prize, to his being named Canada’s only Distinguished Investigator of both the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, and resulted in his being chosen as a member of the Advisory Board of CIHR’s Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health. Most recently he was honored with the American Psychological Association’s 2018 Mentor Award in Developmental Psychology—an award that was enthusiastically supported with letters from more than a dozen of his former graduate students.

Professor Chandler’s program of research dealing with identity and epistemic development led to his twice being named a Distinguished Fellow of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies—work singled out for publication as a book and an invited Society for Research in Child Development Monograph. His program of research was widely cited (often exceeding a thousand citations), and featured in the World Health Organization’s Global Report on the Social Determinants of Health.

As a scholar, Michael was much loved by his students and colleagues and will be remembered fondly for his many contributions to the field and, more importantly, for relentlessly championing the success of others. His decades in leadership roles within the Jean Piaget Society—and in particular his support of emerging scholars and international members—will be acknowledged and celebrated at the upcoming annual conference.

In an email to friends and family, Michael wrote: “My remaining time with you is short. That is not how I would have wished it. While missing remains possible, I will miss you all!” We miss him too.



OBITUARY: Katherine Nelson

Katherine receiving her JPS Lifetime Achievment Award at our 2017 meeting in San Francisco. The plaque reads: In grateful appreciation of your outstanding body of scholarly work and longstanding support of the Jean Piaget Society, and embodiment of its highest aspirations, we hereby present Katherine Nelson with this award as a token of our greatest esteem June 2017. “The very nature of life is constantly to overtake itself.” —Jean Piaget

L-R: Patricia Greenfield, Katherine Nelson, Jerome Bruner, Elizabeth Bates (panel at SRCD, 1979)

The Jean Piaget Society is saddened by the passing of Katherine Nelson on August 10, 2018. Emerita Distinguished Professor Katherine Nelson (Graduate Center, City University of New York) was ahead of all others in many ways, as a major contributor to our understanding of human development and, in particular, the role of culture and language in what makes us human. —JPS President, Colette Daiute

Katherine Nelson, a pioneering scholar of the development of language and cognition in children, died at home on August 10, 2018.

Katherine Nelson’s research career shed new light on the role of language in the development of cognition. Her early research examined differences in how children organized word recall; later work also focused on scripts and autobiographical memory as critical domains. Throughout her work, Katherine emphasized the social context of experience as well as individual stylistic differences among children on developing capacities for language and thought.  Her work illuminates the complex interactions among experience, environment, and language in cognitive development.

Katherine grew up in a home infused with the common-sense spirit of the Swedish-Minnesotan heritage of her parents.  She was the youngest of three children.  Raised during the Great Depression and World War II mostly in Arlington, Virginia (with a stint in dust bowl-era Nebraska), she recalled her father regularly asking the children at the dinner table to report on what they had done for their country that day.

Katherine studied History at Oberlin College. In her senior year she met and fell in love with fellow student Richard (Dick) Nelson; they were married shortly after graduation in September 1952. For a decade Katherine’s activities were determined by Dick Nelson’s academic career. In that period they lived in New Haven, Cambridge, Oberlin, Pittsburgh, Santa Monica, and Washington, DC.  Two daughters (Margo, born 1958 and Laura born 1961) joined them along the way.

In 1963 the family returned to Santa Monica, and Katherine determined that she would earn a graduate degree in child development at UCLA, initially with the goal of becoming a school psychologist. When she first approached them, UCLA’s Department of Psychology refused to consider her for graduate study, as she did not have the appropriate undergraduate preparation and, moreover, as an older (33-year-old) woman, she was thought to be unlikely to become an important scholar. She spent a year proving her worth in pre-requisite classes and she scored in the top ranks on the GRE; nevertheless she had to argue with the Department, challenging the sexism of the period, to gain entry into their program. Once admitted, she dove into graduate studies, and quickly established herself as an innovative and capable researcher. Her doctoral dissertation on organization and categorization in young children’s word recall required novel work in experimental design and analysis; this study and her extensions of it were influential in the field of children’s language and cognition.

She worked at Yale University from 1968-1978, first as a Post Doctoral Fellow and later as a member of the faculty. While at Yale her research evolved to focus on real world experiential effects on children’s language and cognition, as well as on the role of autobiographical memory in the formation of meaning and concepts. 

In 1978 Katherine Nelson joined the faculty of the City University of New York as Head of the Program in Developmental Psychology.  She was named Distinguished Professor there in 1986. At CUNY she enjoyed the close community of faculty and graduate students, and found the project of mentoring the diverse group of students highly rewarding. She continued to collaborate with several of her former students throughout the decades. She argued for the importance of the social in cognitive and language development in her book Making Sense: The Acquisition of Shared Meaning (Academic Press 1985), and for the interdependency of language and cognitive development in Language in Cognitive Development: Emergence of the Mediated Mind (Cambridge 1998). While at CUNY, one of her most exciting collaborative projects involved the analysis, along with several colleagues, of recordings taken of one young child’s “crib talk,” known informally as “the Emily tapes.” This material resulted in the book, Narratives from the Crib (Harvard 2006). 

After retirement from active teaching, Katherine continued to write and lecture internationally.  Her book Young Minds in Social Worlds: Experience, Meaning, and Memory (Harvard 2007) earned the prize for Most Important Developmental Psychology Book of the Year from Division 7 of the APA in 2008. 

Katherine Nelson was a longtime Fellow of the American Psychological Association (and served a term as President of Division 7, the Developmental Psychology Division), the Jean Piaget Society, the Association for Psychological Science, and she served on the Executive Council of the SRCD. Her work was recognized with several distinguished awards, including  the 1999 SRCD award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Child Development; the 2008 G. Stanley Hall award from Division 7 of the APA for a distinguished lifetime career; and the Jean Piaget Society’s award for “distinguished lifetime contributions to developmental psychology” in 2017.

Video of Katherine recieving her Lifetime Achievement Award at our 2017 meeting in San Francisco



Separating Children and Parents Must Stop

As scholars and teachers of human development, we, the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Jean Piaget Society for the Study of Knowledge and Development, deplore the practice of separating children and parents. This practice is against scientific, ethical, and logical understandings of how to support healthy development for the child and for society. This practice is creating a generation of orphans with loving parents, whose own tears, traumas, and helplessness compound those of the child. Families do not, however, exist in a vacuum, so collectives where they belong by citizenship or human rights must provide systems of support and justice, not punishment of the most vulnerable in their midst.

This current practice of “zero tolerance” for parents seeking asylum so their young children can lead healthy productive lives ignores fundamental human needs in ways that all people should find unacceptable.

The separation of children and parents should cease and all possible measures should be taken to reunite children already separated from their families.

Colette Daiute, President
Tom Bidell
Nancy Budwig
Jeremy T. Burman
Michael Chandler
Chris Lalonde
Cynthia Lightfoot
Ashley Maynard
Susan Rivera
Edd Taylor

Brian D. Cox
Mary Gauvain
Lynn Liben
Luka Lucic
Caitlin Mahy
Larry Nucci
Anne-Nelly Perret-Clermont
Holly Recchia
Cintia Rodriguez
Barbara Rogoff
Geoffrey Saxe
Tania Stoltz
David Witherington
Emanuela Yeung



We are profoundly angered by and denounce the Trump administration's executive order to change policies and practices governing the movement of immigrant, refugee, and non-immigrant individuals seeking entry to the United States. The executive order undermines civil liberties and the foundational principles of a free society, and threatens the flow of people and ideas necessary to the development of knowledge and the advancement of the scientific enterprise.

In addition to the grave danger posed to the scientific community, we are acutely aware that the executive order endangers children and families whose wellbeing we are ethically bound to protect. The social injustice engendered by the order is inhumane and intolerable.

We demand that the Trump administration immediately rescind its regressive and destructive order.

Cynthia Lightfoot, President
Tom Bidell
Michael Chandler
Colette Daiute
Christopher Lalonde
Ashley Maynard
Susan Rivera
Edd Taylor



OBITUARY: Floyd Francis Strayer, Ph.D.

Feb. 23, 1945 [Cle Elum, WA] — Jan. 11, 2015 [Toulouse, France]

In Memoriam

FredFriends and colleagues from within the JPS have joined in mourning the death of one of the Society's champions — Fred (F. Francis) Strayer. The best of available diagnoses tend to support the theory that his early passing is down to the fact that his was simply too large a life to fit comfortably within the confines of an ordinary allotment of years. As someone who had made a bit of a career out of playing by his own rules, Fred died in this new year surrounded by family and loved ones, sitting under a favorite tree in his own somewhat akimbo yard.

Fred was born into one of those broken families filling up the hardscrabble landscapes of central Washington state — places where (still against odds) he proved to be something of a land-locked rowing star and an unexpected chess and math wiz. Together these and other latent abilities steered him past the military draft, through both Columbia (M.A.) and Simon Fraser University (Ph.D.), and — not unlike Piaget — into a life-long career in ethology and behavioral biology, and as an acute student of attachment and the developmental context.

Montreal in the 80's and early 90's — a place and time where church and state seriously battled over how scientific evidence might help to arbitrate political questions regarding optimal child-rearing practices — proved to be a perfect spooning ground, not only for the Université du Québec à Montréal's new and ambitious child developmental program, but for Fred and his new wife Teresa Blicharska. Their family eventually grew to include 8 souls. Again, not unlike Piaget, Fred and Teresa could have potentially carried out much of their collaborative research without ever stepping outside of their own apartment.

In 1991 the Strayer clan slowly came to the realization (already well understood by many) that they actually belonged in France, taking up posts at the Universities of Toulouse and Bordeaux. The savings arising from being able to eliminate import duties on fine wine, cheese, and coffee was felt almost immediately. Were it not for the fact that hating Americans had once again become fashionable in France, everything would have been perfect. It was almost perfect anyway. Twenty years later, with plans to hold a second JPS meeting in Europe still slowly taking shape, Fred is reportedly only now collecting his wings beneath him.



New Book: Interaction, Communication and Development: Psychological development as a social processinteraction

By Charis Psaltis, Anna Zapiti

For decades there has been considerable interest in the ways that interactions between children can provide a beneficial context for the study of cognitive and social development. In this book Psaltis and Zapiti use both theoretical and empirical research to build on the perspectives of Piaget, Vygotsky, Moscovici, and others including the legacy of Gerard Duveen, to offer a state of the art account of research on the themes of social interaction and cognitive development.

Interaction Communication and Development discusses the significance of social identities for social interaction and cognitive development. The empirical set of studies presented and discussed focus on patterns of communication between children as they work together to solve problems. Communications are examined in detail with a focus on:

  • Socio-cognitive conflict, conversational moves and conversation types
  • The way the different forms of the interactions relate to different sources of asymmetry in the classroom
  • The way social representations and social identities of gender are negotiated in the interaction

This book provides an important account of how children develop through different kinds of social interactions. It will have considerable appeal for researchers in the fields of developmental psychology, socio-cultural psychology, social representations theory and education who wish to gain a deeper understanding of development and its relation to socio-cultural processes.



New On-Line Resource: Piaget's final interview

In February 1980, Gilbert Voyat interviewed Jean Piaget with contributions from Bärbel Inhelder. The interview was filmed and the film was intended for use in Inhelder's presentation at the Tenth Annual Meeting of the Jean Piaget Society.The interview has been translated into English by Les Smith (www.les-smith.net). As Les notes in his introduction:

"The interview has a dual importance. One is biographical: it was Piaget's final interview, supplementing several others (Piaget, 1968a, 1970, 1972, 1972/1981, 1973, 1973/1981, 1977/1980) and complementing his final paper (1980/2006). The other is theoretical: its focus was on the relationships between the concepts and their applications that were central to his constructivist studies, notably during the last decade of his work (see Table 1 of Piaget, 1980/2006). These concepts have received scant attention, and two reasons for this may be noticed. Their relationships are complex and their interpretation difficult. One merit of the interview is its capacity to clarify and to facilitate their better comprehension. In the interview, Voyat's questions were penetrating, leading Piaget to provide accessible answers about the links between many of his main constructs. The other reason is that Piaget continued to re-analyse them right to the end. In a Postface, Piaget noted that he had delineated a "general skeleton that was more or less obvious but still full of missing parts" (1976, p. 223), and no doubt that was why he regarded himself to be "one of the chief revisionists of Piaget" (1970/1983, p. 103)."

The translation can be found on the website of the Fondation Jean Piaget at: http://www.fondationjeanpiaget.ch/fjp/site/textes/index_textes_en_alpha.php



New Book: Cultural Development of Mathematical Ideas: Papua New Guinea Studies

saxeDrawing upon field studies conducted in 1978, 1980, and 2001 with the Oksapmin, a remote Papua New Guinea group, Geoffrey B. Saxe traces the emergence of new forms of numerical representations and ideas in the social history of the community. In traditional life, the Oksapmin used a counting system that makes use of twenty-seven parts of the body; there is no evidence that the group used arithmetic in prehistory. As practices of economic exchange and schooling have shifted, children and adults unwittingly reproduced and altered the system in order to solve new kinds of numerical and arithmetical problems, a process that has led to new forms of collective representations in the community. While Dr. Saxe's focus is on the Oksapmin, the insights and general framework he provides are useful for understanding shifting representational forms and emerging cognitive functions in any human community. Extensive video and visual supports for the book, the Cultural Development of Mathematical Ideas: Papua New Guinea Studies, which are key to a deeper understanding of this ground-breaking project are available online at http://www.culturecognition.com/

The book has received three prestigious awards: Best Authored Book Award, 2013, Cognitive Development Society; Sterling Prize for Best Authored Book in Psychological Anthropology, 2014, Society for Psychological Anthropology, American Anthropological Association; Eleanor E. Maccoby Book Award, 2015, American Psychological Association.

Sample Video 1   •   Sample Video 2


New Book: After Piaget

bookAfter Piaget moves beyond the harsh critiques of Piaget that have for decades circled among the followers of more popular paradigms such as socio-cultural or cognitivism approaches since Piaget lost his prominence. This collection of essays looks at the achievements of Jean Piaget and how his ideas have advanced long after his death.

About the Authors

Eduardo Martí is professor of developmental and educational psychology at Universitat de Barcelona. He collaborated with Piaget at the Center of Genetic Epistemology (Univesity of Geneva). His research area and publications concern cognitive development and the acquisition of external systems of representation. His latest books are Representing the World Externally (Representar el Mundo Externamente) and Development, Culture and Education (Desarrollo, Cultura y Educación).

Cintia Rodríguez is professor of developmental psychology at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. She worked in the School of Geneva in the research group lead by Barbel Inhelder. She has published "Semiotic and Pragmatic perspective in Early Development." She published The Magic Number Three (El mágico nümero tres) and From Rhythm to Symbol (Del ritmo al símbolo).

For more information, visit Amazon.com


Obituary: Gerard Duveen (1951 – 2008)

Gerard was a leading figure in social psychology who made major contributions to our understanding of cultural knowledge – social representations - and the role of such knowledge in the development of personal identity. [more...]



Obituary: Vinh Bang (1922 – 2008)

Prof. Vinh Bang was involved in the International Center for Genetic Epistemology — as a permanent collaborateur — from its very foundation until its dissolution with the death of its founder, Jean Piaget. [more...]



JPS announces the Pufall Student Travel Awards

Students can apply for a travel award to attend our annual meeting!


On-Line Manuscript

At the turn of the millennium, TIME magazine named Jean Piaget one of the "greatest minds of the 20th century". For authors Trevor Bond (Hong Kong Institute of Education) and Anastasia Tryphon (University of Geneva) this marked an important moment to reconsider Piaget's current and future place in the field of child psychology.

In this paper, they undertake a systematic review of a touchstone tome in the field—the fifth edition of the Handbook of Child Psychology. In their analysis of the citation patterns within the Handbook, Bond & Tryphon argue that selective citation of a subset of Piaget's writings draws attention away from his own explicitly epistemological perspective.

Download the article:
Bond, T. & Tryphon, A. (2007). Piaget's legacy as reflected in The Handbook of Child Psychology (1998 Edition). [pdf]


New Jean Piaget Society Book Series!

In collaboration with Laurence Psychology Press, we recently inaugurated a new book series. [more...]


Obituary: Harry Beilin (1922 – 2006)

Harry Beilin, winner of a Jean Piaget Lifetime Achievement Award passed away on January 11, 2007. [more...]


Obituary: Irving E. Sigel (1922 – 2006)

Irving E. Sigel (1922-2006) a pioneer in the study of children’s intellectual development, died Sunday February 26th, 2006 in Princeton, N.J. [more...]


Obituary: Terry Brown (1939 – 2005)

On July 11, 2005 Terry Brown, a remarkable Piagetian scholar, a former JPS President, and a close personal friend to many Society members, was tragically killed in an auto accident. [more...]


Obituary: Gerald Noelting (1921 – 2004)

Professor Noelting spent 12 years working with Piaget and Inhelder in Geneva before moving to Canada to take a post at the Université Laval [more...]


GE Special Issue: A tribute to Mimi Sinclair

A collection of remembrances in honor of the late Hermina Sinclair De-Zwart.


New Piaget books

Edited and translated by Robert L. Campbell (Clemson University, USA)

WORKING WITH PIAGET: Essays in Honour of Bärbel Inhelder
Edited and translated by Anastasia Tryphon, Jacques Vonèche (Jean Piaget Archives, Geneva, Switzerland)
A review of the book by Les Smith

WEB SITE EXCLUSIVE: A set of previously unpublished essays by Piaget.

Young Piaget

La vanité de la nomenclature
et autres écrits de jeunesse de Jean Piaget

Édition, Introduction et notes par Fernando Vidal

The Vanity of Nomenclature,
and other writings by the young Jean Piaget

Edited, with an Introduction and Notes, by Fernando Vidal

Suggested Readings for Students

A short list of readings to introduce students to Piaget's theories