Critical Psychology Teaching Materials

Psychology & Education

John Morss & Mark Olssen

University of Otago, New Zealand
Department of Education

Educ 415


The paper examines psychology, and its role in education, from a critical standpoint.

Psychology is treated as a set of discourses and practices, as a discipline and as an ideology, rather than as an objective and value-free science of 'behaviour'.

Text: John Morss, Growing Critical (Routledge 1996) (UBS)

This book focuses on developmental psychology, and introduces/discusses a wide range of critical social science perspectives.


(2 weeks per section)

1 Introduction/psychology as a science

2 Power and knowledge in psychology

3 Social constructionism in psychology

4 Marxist approaches in psychology

5 Psychoanalytic approaches

6 Poststructuralist/deconstructionist approaches

Secondary reading includes:

Broughton, Critical Theories of Psychological Development

Burman, Deconstructing Developmental Psychology

Henriques et al., Changing the Subject

Stainton Rogers and Stainton Rogers, Stories of Childhood


70% internal [two essays @ 25%; one seminar @ 20%]; 30% examination

You are encouraged to discuss assignments with us ahead of submission date. Any assignments handed in after the due date, without an extension having been agreed, will be subject to the following penalties (as per departmental guidelines):

a) up to 1 week late: 2 grades (eg B+ --> B- )

b) more than 1 week late: will not be marked

First assignment (related to Seminar topic) to Mark Olssen by arranged date.

Second assignment: Due 15 September

2000 words: What is the critical psychology of development?

This is a broad title. As well as giving some overall account of the topic, select some more specific issues, resources, approaches etc. to focus on. Refer to at least three of the major resources: Morss, Broughton, Burman, Henriques, Stainton Rogers [as well as any other appropriate resources]. They differ in some ways in what they consider critical psychology to be, what it should be called, what its varieties might be, and in how it is different from orthodox psychology. Morss makes a very sharp distinction between 'social construction' and critical psychology -- you may not wish to make such a sharp distinction, but be aware of the issues involved.


John R Morss
Education Department
University of Otago, Box 56, Dunedin
New Zealand


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