New research from new lecturer

Posted on 3 May 2016

Article on the history of child psychology published by Dr Clémentine Beauvais

The March 2016 issue of the journal History of Education features an article by Dr Clémentine Beauvais entitled 'Ages and ages: the multiplication of children’s ‘ages’ in early twentieth-century child psychology'.

In the article, Clémentine explores how early 20th century child psychologists began to talk about 'ages' of children other than their chronological age. This practice began with Alfred Binet's idea of 'mental age', which could differ markedly from a child's actual age and was calculated from various tests of intelligence

In the years to 1920, a number of such different 'ages' were proposed by psychologists, including emotional, social and anatomical ages. These new 'ages' were held up against a view of a 'normal' chronology of child development, but also frequently singled out and celebrated as demonstrating individual children were 'advanced' in their development. A key finding of the research however was how puzzled psychologists were with what they observed using their new metrics for age:

"The challenge of readjusting this capricious being was as beguiling and frustrating as toying with a Rubik’s Cube; and in many ways, as this essay hints, psychologists might have enjoyed the scrambling as much as the solving."

Clémentine joined the Department and CRESJ in January 2016 as a Lecturer in English and Education. Previously she was Junior Research Fellow in Education at Homerton College, Cambridge, prior to which she studied for BA, MPhil and PhD degrees at Christ's College, Cambridge. Her research interests cover cultural, literary and philosophical understandings of childhood, focussing especially on adult-child relationships in children's literature and notions of the 'gifted' child.

In addition to her academic work Clémentine is a prolific writer for children and young adults, with many books to her name in French and English. She has recently been awarded the prestigious Prix Sorcières prize for children's literature for her novel Les Petites Reines. The book has been adapted for the stage and will go on tour in Paris and the Ile-de-France region from February 2017.