Teaching communication skills While the British Psychological Society stipulates that graduates should be able to ‘communicate ideas and research findings by written, oral and visual means’, I have noticed the absence of any form of specialised writing or communication classes in curricula. In the US, by contrast, writing classes in particular are commonly included in undergraduate courses, and that could well be one of the key differences between the two countries’ programmes.
are great for giving students the opportunities to do the practical things needed to practise the things necessary to become psychologists. We write essays, conduct experiments, give presentations, and so on. That’s great because we get experience of what we need to do to take up roles as practitionerscientists.
So, maybe one thing we could work on as a discipline is imparting how to do what it takes to be a psychologist. As it is, from my own experience I think British institutions
Of course, that is why students go to university to learn these things, but why not add an optional extra year to undergraduate programmes with courses that deal explicitly with the nitty gritty of communicating in science (and other study skills)? Writing classes, presentation workshops, experiment design lab sessions… It might seem below some of the more ‘able’ students, but then it’s not aimed at them, and American institutions (like those in many other countries) have four-year undergraduate programmes so that’s a whole extra year more than the UK anyway. It would be for developing students’ language skills and allow them to focus on investigating phenomena – if they can spend less time on writing, then they can spend more time on research, which will hopefully improve the quality of their work (and make markers’ lives easier). David Poole MBPsS Osaka Japan
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Politics and psychology Reading Professor Kinderman’s somewhat emotional ‘address’ to the Society’s Annual Conference in the June issue (‘Psychology is action, not thinking about oneself’), I was reminded of President Professor Miller’s equally humanitarian plea to the American Psychological Association in 1969. In this, Miller invited his audience to ‘give psychology away’: some of your older members may recall its similar rhetorical fervour. The same heartfelt plea, the same desire to make the world a better place by specifically applying and ‘giving away’ the accumulated truths about human behaviour so painstakingly (scientifically) acquired: a duty-bound obligation to not only proselytise but also to procure a better future.
Such hubris! And a half century later? What have we got? A world dominated by the neo-liberal hegemony, the Washington consensus, structural adjustment, the idolisation of economic growth, profit, the unelected oligarchs of the Bank of England, the Federal Reserve… blah, blah, blah. Not my thing… I’m very much in favour of anarcho-syndicalism, just like Chomsky. What’s ‘Psychology’ in favour of? Brexit is, clearly, a bit of a downer for Prof. K. Lost that one, eh? Too many Common People having a say perhaps?
Do you see the problem? There’s a Science of how the mind (old-fashioned term) works and – what shall we say – the Political Futures to which we, as individuals and groups, strive and aspire. Psychology and Politics. The spellings are different because they are different. Charles Mercer Cardiff