[xmca] Irv Sigel, R.I.P.

From: Peter Smagorinsky <smago who-is-at uga.edu>
Date: Mon Oct 15 2007 - 10:39:56 PDT

I just learned of the death of Irv Sigel last February. I met him at the
Vygotsky conference outside Moscow in 1994, and developed a very high regard
for him.

Irving E. Sigel, Psychologist and Expert on Childhood Learning


Irving E. Sigel, a distinguished developmental psychologist, passed away on
Sunday, Feb. 26, at the University Medical Center at Princeton. He was 84.
His death was due to complications from heart disease.

Sigel was an internationally known expert on children's cognitive
development. Based on his theory of "psychological distancing," Sigel's
research focused on the capacity of young children for representative or
symbolic thought, as well as on the conditions under which that thought

Sigel was a leader in demonstrating how theory and research on child
development is relevant to the concerns of practicing educators and parents.
"Irv Sigel was a pioneer. He saw earlier than most the importance of doing
well-conceived applied research that would put to the test our knowledge of
child development for helping children and parents," says Frances Degen
Horowitz, president emerita of the Graduate Center at the City University of
New York and past president of the Society for Research in Child
Development. "As the founding editor of the 'Journal of Applied
Developmental Psychology,' he moved our whole field to be serious about
applied developmental research."

Sigel also is the author of more than 100 scientific articles, chapters, and
books. He was the editor of a series of books on child psychology and
co-editor with K. Ann Renninger of Swarthmore College, of the volume, "Child
Psychology in Practice," part of the forthcoming 6th edition of the
"Handbook of Child Psychology."

Sigel was on the faculties of Smith College, Michigan State University, and
the State University of New York at Buffalo. He was director of research at
the Merrill-Palmer Institute. He was a distinguished research scientist at
the ETS in Princeton, NJ, from 1973 until his retirement in 1990. At ETS, he
established a preschool for developing curricula and training teachers on
the basis of distancing theory. In recent years, he focused on the
implications of his theory for parent-child relationships, and was a
frequent consultant to teaching centers and school districts.

For his work on child development, he received many honors and awards, both
nationally and internationally, including an honorary degree from his alma
mater, Clark University, in Massachusetts. Sigel served as president of the
Division of Developmental Psychology of the American Psychological
Association and as president of the Jean Piaget Society, from which he
received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. His doctorate was from the
University of Chicago.

He is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Roberta Schoenland Sigel; two
sons, Kenneth George Sigel of Mystic, Conn., and Newton Thomas Sigel of
Malibu, Calif., and four grandchildren.

A private funeral was held on March 1. In lieu of flowers, memorial
donations in Irving E. Sigel's name can be sent to the Rock Brook School;
109 Orchard Road; Skillman, NJ, 08558 (www.rock-brook.org/donate.htm) or the
Children's Defense Fund; 25 E Street N.W.; Washington, DC, 20001


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