Download the original attachment

Laudatio

for Professor REUVEN FEUERSTEIN, Ph.D.

at the occasion of receiving a Doctorate Honoris Causa of the Babeş-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania

on October 15, 2009 
 

Your browser may not support display of this image. Professor Emeritus, Bar-Ilan University

Chairman, International Center for Enhancement of Learning Potential  
 
 
 

Your browser may not support display of this image.  
 

Laudatio by Professor Stefan Szamosközi, Ph.D.

Vice-rector at Universitatea Babeş-Bolyai 
 
 
 
 

Distinguished professor of Bar Bar-Ilan University School of Education (Ramat Gan, Israel), doctor honoris causa of Charles University in Prague, of University of Turin, Italy, and honored member of Universidad Diego Portales, Chile, the Director of the Hadassah-Wizo-Canada Research Institute, in Jerusalem, and the International Center for Learning Potentail, a source of inspiration for thousands of teachers and psychologists, Professor Reuven Feuerstein devoted all his life to the development of the theory and the practice of Cognitive Structural Modifiability. He is teaching children, teachers, parents, trainers, councilors and psychologists that Intelligence is modifiable all along lifespan, and that a good culture of teaching can shape and scaffold understanding, problem solving, concentration, originality and many other highly valued cognitive abilities. 

Professor Reuven Feuerstein was born in Botoşani (Romania) in 1921, the fifth of nine children. He went to school in the Yeshiva in Kishinev in Bessarabia (now Moldavia). In 1939-1941 he studied in Bucharest (Romania) at the Teachers College of the Jewish community, being appointed co-director, in 1941-44 of the Scoala Mixtă No. 8, “Apărătorii Patriei”, where he continued teaching and caring for children in spite of the dramatic conditions of war and antisemitism.  

He left the country and arrived in Palestine in 1944. During 1944-45 he studied in the Teacher Training Seminar in Jerusalem, afterwards working as teacher and counselor to children and youth who survived from the concentration camps after the Shoah (1945 – 1948).

Professor Feuerstein completed his undergraduate studies in 1950 at the University of Geneva (Switzerland) with Prof. Jean Piaget. While studying in Geneva, between 1951-55, professor Feuerstein worked in two transit camps in the South of France for immigrant adults (Camp d’Arenas near Marseille) and children who were on their way to Israel from North Africa (Cambouse near Montpellier), as well as in transit-camps in Poland. Professor Feuerstein had the privilege to attended lectures given by the leading personalities of the the day: Carl Jaspers, Carl Jung, and L. Szondy.

Between 1950-55 he studied at the University of Geneve, with André Réy and Jean Piaget, completing his degrees in General and Clinical Psychology (1952) and obtaining a license in Psychology (1954). In 1970 Feuerstein obtained his Ph.D. degree in Developmental Psychology at the Université de Sorbonne under the supervision of Prof. Otto Kleineberg. His major areas of study were developmental, clinical and cognitive Psychology from a cross-cultural perspective.

During this period he visited Morocco several times, on one occasion with his teacher André Réy, professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Geneva. He was also involved in setting up and supervising the home for children with emotional and cognitive problems at Morgins near Montreux in Switzerland.

Between 1950-54 professor Feuerstein was Director of Psychological Services of Youth Aliyah in Europe. These services were responsible for assigning prospective candidates for emigration from Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, and European countries to various educational programs in Israel. In the early 1950’s he was involved in researches on Moroccan, Jewish, and Berber children together with several members of the Geneve School of Psychology, including professors André Réy, Marc Richelle, and Maurice Jeannet. It was during this period that the psychological data - that contributed to the development of the concepts of cultural difference and cultural deprivation - was gathered. This period was also crucial in the development of his working hypotheses concerning low functioning children and their potential for change.

In 1955 branches of the Youth Aliyah Child Guidance Clinics were set up in several sites in Israel, which Professor Feuerstein directed from their establishment until his retirement from this position in 1983.

In 1971 professor joined the faculty of the School of Education of Bar-Ilan University and was designated professor in 1975.

Together with professors David Krasilowsky, Yaacov Rand, and Shimon Tuchman, Professor Feuerstein founded the Hadassah-WIZO-Canada Research Institute, which continues to function within the structure of the ICELP. In 1993 the Hadassah-WIZO-Canada Research Institute was incorporated in the International Centre for the Enhancement of Learning Potential in Jerusalem.

Professor Feuerstein knew and argued with well-known psychologists of the 20th century, besides Piaget, Jung, Jaspers, Réy also with Wechsler, Cronbach, Bruner, Sternberg, etc. regarding the popular and grounded theories of Psychology regarding the controverse between psychometric versus dynamic assessment of learning potential.  

According to professor Feuerstein, the main cause of the differences emerging between the manifest persformance and the children’s real intelectual potential are determined by the lack or insufficient mediation within the learning process. Thus the main causes of the law intellectual performances/achievements - characteristic to children assesed with psychometric tests and classified as educable mentaly disabled – are represented  by the low quality of the mediated learning offered by the social and/or family environment.  Cognitive modifiabilty defines the capacity of the individual to reshape knowledge according to requirements of different situations-problem novel contexts.  

Feuerstein's theory about cognitive structural change (MSC) was inspired by his perspective fundamentally optimistic about man's natural propensity to change and adapt to the environment. He postulates that learning has no limits, all human beings are changing, they are open systems which may undergo major structural changes throughout their lives. Change is not possible without taking into account three possible barriers: age, etiology and the serious deterioration of the genetic, physical and physiological welfare. In this respect, Feuerstein's theory can be regarded as an environmental or cultural fit model of intelligence, which emphasizes social and cultural origins of the cognitive development. Feuerstein does not ignore all affective-motivational causes and social issues; these are major pillars of his construct: cognition and emotion are two sides of same coin, says the proverb of cognitive development.  

The third element within the cognitive structural change concerns the structural features of the change that an individual can experience learning through direct or mediated. A structural change is more than an increase in the content, knowledge or skills acquired. It outlines the cognitive structures: they are ways and problem solving that can be used in situations completely unknown.

Decades before current research has discovered that the brain has “plasticity” and can change, Professor Feuerstein established that intelligence is not fixed, that IQ and other static achievement tests (psychometrical testing) are not an accurate measure of a person’s true achievement potential, and that people have immeasurable ability to improve their cognitive functioning regardless of age, cultural background, or developmental disability. Working with children from refugee camps  (in France and in Poland) after the Holocaust and later with children from North Africa, professor Feuerstein realized the need to design new instruments for dynamic cognitive assessment, which were later developed as teaching instruments, and created two groundbreaking theories out of this idea: Structural Cognitive Modifiability (SCM) and Mediated Learning Experience (MLE). He is involved in ongoing development of the dynamic cognitive assessment and Instrumental Enrichment techniques for children and adults.

Among Feuerstein's research and development activities there are studies on Holocaust survivors, new immigrant students, Down Syndrome children and young adults, brain injured individuals and children with autistic features.

The fundamental nature of Professor Feuerstein's work is evidenced by the thousands of people who have studied his theories and programs. The models of dynamic assessment and Instrumental Enrichment procedures have been adapted and disseminated throughout the world. The IE program has been translated into 18 languages, and there are more than 70 Authorized Training Centers throughout the world affiliated with the ICELP, carrying on the work by providing training, services and program development.

Reuven Feuerstein is a pioneer in promoting  inclusive education, gifted children and people from industry and in vocational training discovered the necessity and the benefits of learning how to think well.  

Besides this dissemination of ideas, methods, programmes of  educational intervention and innovation of psychological assessment methods, Feuerstein was also academically very active, publishing 80 books, monographs, chapters, and journal articles. We are quoting here only the very basic ones: R. Feuerstein, P.S. Klein, & A. Tannenbaum (Eds.), Mediated learning experience (MLE). London: Freund; Feuerstein, R., 1979, The Dynamic Assessment of Retarded Performers. The Learning Potential Assessment Device. Theory, Instruments and Techniques, Baltimore: University Press Park Press; Feuerstein, R., Rand, Y. – Hoffmann, M. – Miller, R, 1980, Instrumental Enrichment: An intervention program for cognitive modifiability, Baltimore; Feuerstein, R., Rand, Y., Haywood, Hoffmann, M.B., 1979, The dynamic assessment of retarded performers: The learning potential assessment device: Theory, instruments, and techniques. Baltimore: University Park Press; Feuerstein, R., Rand, Y., Jensen, M.R., Kaniel, S. & Tzuriel, D., 1987, Prerequisites for assessment of learning potential: The LPAD model. In. C. S. Lidz (Ed.), Dynamic assessment (pp. 35-60), New York, Guilford Press; Reuven Feuerstein, Alex Kozulin, Louis H. Falik, 2005, Cultural Difference and Cultural Deprivation as Reflected in the Dynamic Assessment of Ethiopian Children in Israel, Erdélyi Pszichológiai Szemle. These are completed with the dynamic assessment batteries emerged under his guidence. 

Professor Feuerstein has been invited to numerous conferences from Singapore,  Budapest,  Prague, New York, to Santiago de Chile. He obtained several civic and academic awards: the special Commendation of the Detroit Public Schools (USA) in 1986, Médaille d’Or of Aix-les-Bains, Médaille d’Or of Nevers  (France) in 1990, Variety Clubs International Humanitarian Award, Vancouver (Canada) in 1991, the Award of the New York Academy of Science in 1992, Miembro de honor del Universidad Diago Portales (Chile) in 1998, Doctor honoris causa of the University of Turin (Italy) in 1999. This being a selective list of the prices and awards bestowed. 

With today’s ceremony Universitatea Babes-Bolyai is honored to add to the list of Doctor Honoris Causa awarded personalities another illustrious name: Prof. dr. Reuven Feuerstein. Honoring Professor Reuven Feuerstein, the university honors itself. We wish that his inaugural speech to be the first of a series to be held in benefit of our students and academic staff.