Distributed October 16, 2000
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Kristen Cole

The inaugural Lipsitt Lecture

Head Start architect Sheldon White to speak about early education

Developmental psychologist Sheldon White will deliver the first Lewis P. and Edna Duchin Lipsitt Lecture in Child Behavior and Development Thursday, Nov. 2, 2000, at 4 p.m. in the Salomon Center for Teaching. The public is welcome to attend without charge.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Sheldon H. White, an architect of Head Start, will discuss the role of early education in American society Thursday, Nov. 2, 2000, at 4 p.m., in the Salomon Center for Teaching, located on The College Green. His talk, What Exactly Is Early Education Supposed to Do? Preschool, IQs and the Clash of Culture, is the first Lewis P. and Edna Duchin Lipsitt Lecture in Child Behavior and Development.

White, the John Lindsley Professor of Psychology in Memory of William James at Harvard University, will speak about the efficacy of early education, comparing the early 20th century debate over nursery school to a later debate over the Head Start program.

When nursery schools came to the United States after starting in Britain, they sparked a heated discussion among psychologists about whether they would raise children’s IQs. The debate paid little heed to program originator Margaret McMillan’s conceptions of what nursery school might achieve as environments for early human development, said White. In the 1960s, a similar debate erupted over Head Start. Broad questions about what Head Start might achieve for poor children, families, and communities tended to be set aside, he said.

A developmental psychologist, White has researched children’s learning, attention and memory. His interests involved him in designing and evaluating programs such as Sesame Street, Head Start, Follow Through, and the Title I programs of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Recently, White served as chairman of the Board on Children and Families of the National Research Council, and Head Start.

The Lewis P. and Edna Duchin Lipsitt Lectures in Child Behavior and Development

The Lipsitt family recently established the lecture series to celebrate many years of association with Brown University and to preserve interest in child psychology at the University.

Lewis Paeff Lipsitt joined Brown in 1957 as an instructor of psychology, after receiving his doctorate in child psychology at the University of Iowa. A pioneer in the study of sensory and learning processes of babies, Lipsitt established a laboratory at Women & Infants Hospital in 1958 to study infant behavior and development. He is the founding director of Brown’s Child Study Center, serving from 1967 to 1991. Lipsitt also directed an experimental child psychology graduate training program and began Infant Behavior and Development, and Advances in Child Development and Behavior, both landmark publications in the field.

Lipsitt has received the 1990 Nicholas Hobbs Award for science in the service of children from the American Psychological Association Division of Child, Youth, and Family Services and the 1994 American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Lifetime Achievement Mentor Award for helping minorities and women in the pursuit of scientific careers.

After retiring from Brown in 1996 as professor emeritus of psychology, medical science and human development, Lipsitt continued his research. He currently leads the National Collaborative Perinatal Project, a study documenting the development from infants to adults of 4,000 people originally studied at birth 36 to 42 years ago. That study is also led by Stephen L. Buka, who completed his undergraduate honors thesis at Brown under Lipsitt’s direction.

Lewis and Edna Duchin married in 1952, the year he received his master’s in clinical and social psychology at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. Edna is a graduate of Lesley College with a degree in early education. They have two children, Mark, born in 1955, and Ann, born in 1957, a few days after the Lipsitts arrived at Brown.

The lecture is co-sponsored by Brown’s Center for the Study of Human Development and the Brown University School of Medicine, in celebration of its 25th anniversary. It is free and open to the public.