Susan B. Isaacs Essay

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An influential educational theorist, teacher, and psychologist, Susan B. Isaacs was born in Lancashire, England. She studied philosophy and psychology at Manchester University. She earned a first-class degree from Manchester University in 1912 and went on to a research position at the Psychology Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. From 1913–1914, she taught at Darlington Training College, a preparation program for early childhood educators. From 1914–1915, she returned to teach at Manchester University.

Influenced by Froebel, John Dewey, and Sigmund Freud, Isaacs believed that early childhood experiences were very important educational experiences. In 1921, Isaacs completed the first of many books, titled An Introduction to Psychology. In 1922, Isaacs completed the qualification process to see patients as a psychoanalyst and began her practice, which she would continue until her death. In 1924, she and her husband founded Malting House. A progressive school, the curriculum was centered on experience rather than instruction. In 1927, Isaacs left the school to focus on research, writing, and her patients in her psychoanalytic practice. In 1929, she began writing an advice column under the name Ursula Wise. She continued this column until 1940. In 1933, she was offered the chance to direct the Department of Child Development at the University of London, and she held this post until 1944. During the evacuation of London during World War II, Isaacs studied the psychological problems of children who were relocated as a result. Susan Isaacs died in 1948 after a long battle with cancer.


  1. Isaacs, S. B. (1949). Childhood & after: Some essays and clinical studies. New York: International Universities Press.
  2. Smith, L. A. (1985). To understand and to help: The life and work of Susan Isaacs (1885–1948). Toronto: Associated University Presses.

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