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3 Influential Books: IPR Fellow Carole Brown

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We asked our IPR Fellows to write about three important books that helped to shape their scholarly career.  This week, Dr. Carole Brown discusses the three books she chose, and why they have been significant to her work.

Books for living and carrying out one’s profession

Daniel N. Stern, (1985) The interpersonal world of the infant:  A view from Psychoanalysis and Developmental Psychology, Basic Books, Inc. Publishers.  I first read this book on summer vacation after completing my dissertation about premature infant growth and their families.  The combination of a psychoanalytic view of the emergence of the self in infancy with developmental psychological research was a novel approach at that time.   His model also fits the newer focus on brain research and infant behavior.   I find that I have returned to this book many times in my career and it also fuels my interest in creating an infant assessment that is responsive to emerging scientific knowledge.  It turns out that I am in good company as Daniel Stern’s text has been cited 8,188 times. This must be the 8,189th time!

Jerome Bruner, (1966), Towards a Theory of Instruction, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge.   Jerome Bruner has written so many important books about the acquisition of knowledge and meaning that it is difficult to select the book that has been most influential.  What I like about this book is the connection Bruner makes between modes of knowledge, i.e., enactive, iconic, and symbolic representational thought with learning and teaching using these modes.  In the disability teaching and policy world, we foster the design of environments and processes to serve children and adults with differing learning talents and challenges using approaches such as the Universal Design for Learning (UDL).  UDL puts emphasis on engagement, expression and representation as modes of learning sounding very much like Bruner’s scheme.   I have used these concepts to help early childhood teachers translate theory to practice by naming classrooms to fit these modes, developing models of learning with drama and literacy research and evaluating museum education programs.  This book was cited by 5,591 people.

Cutler, Eustacia, (2004).  A Thorn in my Pocket, Future Horizons.  Eustacia Cutler is the mother of Temple Grandin, arguably the most famous adult on the Autism spectrum and a well-known professor of veterinary science.  Eustacia Cutler writes tenderly about the experience of discovering Temple’s gifts as well as the frustrations of parenting a child with a disability.  Writing about the period spanning the late 1940’s onward, Eustacia’s book is also a bit of a history of psychology and medicine about autism.  For example, she found Erik Erikson’s stages of development very hopeful.  It meant to her that Temple would grow and change.  Eustacia Cutler is in her 80’s now but still travels extensively and gives talks, often with her daughter about the family’s experience.  She titles the book after both the biblical “thorn in one’s side” along with Robert Frost’s personal communication in a course about writing in which he indicated the importance of keeping something in one’s pocket to remind one who they are, both lessons in modesty.  In sum, the lessons Eustacia Culter teaches are grand and small and intimate.   She is an important voice for families with children with autism in this country and internationally.

Carole Brown