Educational psychology in a changing world

Educational psychology in a changing world

the pro-technology bias in the interpretation of the results, is the book's great weakness. Attributing the failure of educational technology projects...

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the pro-technology bias in the interpretation of the results, is the book's great weakness. Attributing the failure of educational technology projects to individual or institutional conservatism gets us nowhere. Technology has to serve people, not dominate them. If it does not serve their needs and they reject it, the fault lies with the technology, not the people.

in fact does not take up the challenge it sets. That is, the book in itself is interdisciplinary while the articles on the whole are not. Nonetheless, I suspect it will become an indispensable reader, since it does give a number of very readable accounts of many of the debates on the underlying structures supporting women's oppression and exploitation in society today.

Paul Hurst Kate Young W O M E N IN SOCIETY, lnterdisciplina13~ Essays, London Virago Press, 1981 This is a collection of 15 essays on various aspects of women's position in modern society (only one of the essays deals directly with what could be called a modernising society, i.e. India). They are divided into four thematic sections: Women, the Family and Wage Labour Under Capitalism; Definition and Coercion; Politics, Sexuality, Choice; Nature/Culture: theories of sexual difference. Most of the essays originated as papers prepared for discussion at the Women in Society course at the University of Cambridge. In many cases they are summaries of debates within the women's movement at the time of writing (c. late 1970s). As such the book is useful for people themselves involved in running women's studies courses, or who want to keep abreast of developments in feminist theory. What is equally interesting about the book is the importance given to dealing with feminist politics as well as theorising. In the introduction, the collective point to some of the difficulties inherent in the project of putting women into the academic disciplines: they touch on the debate as to whether people concerned with the neglect of the study of women and sexual divisions should try to insert the topic into sociology, anthropology, economics, etc. in other words, to accept the traditional disciplinary boundaries. Such a strategy does have the advantage, as they point out, of making people take a more cautious approach to the received truths of such disciplines, as well as of changing the theories of the discipline itself. Here they mention the example of sociology which has been unable to come to terms with gender difference in assigning class position, other than to suggest that women's class position must be that either of their husband or their father. The collective then suggest that it is more fruitful to break disciplinary boundaries and create a unifying theoretical framework which would both make a good deal better sense of the diversity of empirical data that abounds, but more importantly would help to underlie and interpret women's struggles. In this sense the book is somewhat of a disappointment in that while it questions existing sets of explanations for the apparently universal subordination of women to men which are disciplinebound, and while it describes and discusses current s~ruggle within the women's movement in Britain, it

E D U C A T I O N A L P S Y C H O L O G Y IN A C H A N G ING W O R L D by Gerda Siann and Denis Ugwuegbu, George Allen & Unwin, 19g0, 255 pages. Educational Psychology in a Changing World is comprehensive, well-presented, well illustrated and refreshing. It is refreshing because it does not make the usual assumptions found in many Educational Psychology textbooks about the kinds of societies in which children live and grow. This book does not assume that all children live in nuclear families, that all children have literate and numerate parents nor that all children live in a world surrounded by modern technology. A very large number of themes are presented and discussed. The themes are divided into four - - those covering Childhood, the Primary School Years, Adolescence and Youth and the School and Society. Within these four are included important discussions of language, play, cognitive development, culture and cognition, social and emotional adjustment, learning theory, the social organisation of schools and the assessment of intelligence and achievement. The authors adopt a critical stance towards much that has been written earlier within the field of cross-cultural constraints or cognition. They acknowledge that there are differences in intellectual performance between individuals and between cultures but assert that intelligence, however defined, is always affected by environmental factors. Throughout the book an attempt is made to draw out generalisable educational implications of the theories and research evidence discussed (though it should be noted that most of the non-Western research evidence is African rather than Asian or Latin American). In the organisation and presentation of their book the authors clearly attempt to put into educational practice what they preach. Students of educational psychology will be helped in their reading of this book by the straightforward use of language, by the simple summaries of chapter structure presented at the beginning of each chapter, by cartoons, diagrams and illustrations, by selected bibliographies at the end of each chapter and by a comprehensive bibliography at the end of the book. Angela Little 205