The Life and Contribution of Eleanor Ruth Duckworth

The Life and Contribution of Eleanor Ruth Duckworth

Eleanor Ruth Duckworth is a psychologist who was born in 1935 in Canada. Duckworth’s foundation as a psychologist was motivated by Piaget Jean when she was studying and being trained by Jean Piaget as a student. When she was a student, she studied philosophy at the University of Harvard Graduate School of Education; during which she interacted with various psychologists such as Jean and Inhelder who motivated her ambitions and interests in psychology (Duckworth, 2006). In fact, Jean Piaget and Inhelder are believed to be academicians in psychology as a subject. Duckworth also acquired a PhD in 1977 and is today known across the world as an important psychologist across the cities of Canada and at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where she was teaching curriculum development and training of teachers. Duckworth was involved in many area areas in psychology including cognitive psychology, educational theory, and constructive education. She used her involvement in these areas to change the society. As such, the purpose of this paper is to discuss Duckworth’s biography, her zeitgeists in Canada from 1935 to present, her influential intellectual forefathers, and the overall impact of Duckworth teachings in the society.

Biography of Eleanor Ruth Duckworth

Eleanor Ruth Duckworth is a female Canadian psychologist who was born in the year 1935 at Montreal City in Canada (Duckworth, 2006). Her parents were from Canada and were Jack (born 1897) and Muriel H. Duckworth (born 1908). Duckworth’s parents were peace advocators and intervened in community issues related societal challenges. For instance, Muriel Duckworth was actively involved in freedom of social justice, peace, gender equality and women’s right, eradication of poverty, and educational development in the society. Again, Jack was the leader of Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) until his death in 1975. YMCA is based in Geneva purposely to empower the youth. Duckworth had two brothers Martin and John who were given birth to in 1933 and 1938 respectively. Duckworth pursued philosophy during her undergraduate studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (Duckworth, 2006). In 1977, Duckworth graduated with PhD and contributed in curriculum development and preparing of teachers.

Eleanor Ruth Duckworth Zeitgeists

Zeitgeists focuses on issues that struggled Canada during the period from which Duckworth was born until present. The scope of zeitgeists explores historical and contemporary issues that affected Canada. These issues include wars, cultural influences, and influential relevant in psychological school from the period of birth of Duckworth. First, war occurred in Canadian history following the exploitation by European imperialism (Dobson, 2012). For instance, during colonial wars there was Pre-Civil war with Spanish that wanted to control Canadian land. For instance, the borders of Canada with America have remained rejected throughout the history of Canada to present. During colonial wars, England and France communities of the American origin settled in the region of North of Canada and they appear to be the immigrants in Canada who modernized the nation through transport and trade because they were forced out of America during the Pre-Civil War in America (Dobson, 2012). The anti-slavery movements and pro-slavery movement talk in America led to racial bias against the immigrants who were seen as competitors in economic prospect of the original descendants of the nation. Researchers argue that the influence of the colonial imperialism led to few established cities in Canada (Dobson, 2012). At the same time, there were immigrants such as communities of French backgrounds in Canada who settled there during the world war.

On the other hand, the Canadian cultural practices were mainly composed of primitive culture. For instance, Canadians mainly practiced nomadic lifestyle because they depended on animals as the source of food (Phillips, 2013). During colonial wars, England and France communities of American origin settled in the region of North of Canada and they appear to be the immigrants in Canada who modernized the nation through transport and trade because they were forced out of America. Canada is a bilingual nation because of the immigrants who settled during the Pre-Civil War and world war. For instance majority of Canadians almost 60% speak English with only 24% speaking French (Winter, 2009). The French language is majorly spoken by French Canadian immigrants. During 1930s, French Canadian language established in Canada and most of the elementary schools and newspapers were written in English.

Influential forefathers of Eleanor Ruth Duckworth

During her undergraduate studies, she was a student of Jean Piaget and related with one another well (Duckworth, 2006). At the same time, she worked with Jean Piaget and Barbel Inhelder as Research Teaching Assistant at the Institute of de I’ Education in a city in Geneva, Switzerland. Duckworth worked hard as a cognitive psychologist, educational theorist, and constructive educator with the aid of Inhelder and Piaget. For instance, Inhelder and Piaget recommended Duckworth in 1962 to participate in a curriculum development and education reform project in Massachusetts. The goal of the project was to evaluate how children can investigate the nature of the society around him/her by putting particular materials such as bulbs, batteries and butterflies into the hands of the children. Duckworth capitalized on this project and incorporated Piaget’s theory and clinical method into her classrooms studies.  The major breakthrough for Duckworth came in 1964 when she acted as the translator and interpreter of Piaget during the conference she dubbed Piaget Rediscovered. In fact, this formed the basis for the foundation of book generated from essays from developmental psychology and curriculum development.

Impact of Eleanor Ruth Duckworth on the Field Of Psychology and Society

Duckworth has significantly influenced the society and the field of psychology through her teachings she envisioned as a cognitive psychologist, educational theorist and constructive educator. She majorly based her principles on the knowledge she acquired when she was a student of Jean Piaget who introduced her to cognitive psychology. The insights of Inhelder also proved valuable for her to help transform the field of psychology and society in general. Owing to interaction with Jean and Inhelder, she reshaped their insights into the study of nature and development of clear knowledge and intelligence using clinical research methods.

Cognitive psychology is a branch of psychology that deal with the study of how the human being process information, receives information  from another person (recipient) and how they treat the information with respect to response they recipients of such information give to the person who delivers the information (sender) (Sternberg and Mio, 2009). The process scope of cognitive psychology entails studying internal processes of the human including how people think, perceive, remember attentiveness, and the tone of language the person uses to communicate. Cognitive psychology is a scientific process because it involves the study of the brain functions such as memory tests using laboratory experiments set at specific by the cognitive psychologist Cognitive psychology is applicable in varied ways including improving memory, increasing decision-making process and construction of educational curriculum to help learners in school study efficiently and smoothly.

Cognitive psychology is beneficial to students pursuing careers in behavioral neuroscience, linguistics and artificial intelligence and computer simulation. For instance, learners studying computer technology such as typesetting often find this technique useful to them because they are able to simulate the computer commands and master the keyboard letters because they develop good memory of the letters and can type words faster. At the same time, behavioral neuroscientists with the aid of cognitive psychology are able to access the individual’s brain damage and evaluate the nature of a person’s cognition capacity. Furthermore, cognitive psychologists use the cognitive-behavioral couple therapy to counsel the couples with difficulties in understanding one another (Dobson, 2010).  For instance, couples who often quarrel over petty issues and couples with difficulties inculcating moral values into their children.

Cognitive psychology also helps teachers, educators and designers of the school curriculum to on how to process information, comprehend, and remember information (Dobson, 2010). This is beneficial to such teachers because they can get to prepare information faster in order to teach their lesson comprehensively with proper content of the information. Owing to such good mastery of information, the teachers often realize good grades from the learners and in turn, the teachers feel satisfied. Similarly, scientists and engineers who often engage themselves in constructing scientific model and designs majorly use cognitive psychology to understand the state of mind and process before embarking on any activity.

Education theory refers to the theory of refers to the concept of application, interpretation of the education system and learning models among other epistemological disciplines which help students at different levels of career pursuit such as early childhood education, primary school, high school and university to achievement the purpose of education (Noffke and Somekh, 2009). These educational theories assist individuals with capacities to accomplish complex tasks and predict what the future entails. At the same time, educational theories helps to transfer information such as social issues from one setting to another through program evaluation of the situation affecting the society. As a result, the society and individuals who embrace educational theories are able to comprehend the status of the society and learn from the society. Educational theories further help learners to design their potentials and capabilities within frameworks that allow them to improve into greater opportunities and achievements in life. For instance, educational theorists offer information to learners regarding learning and performance by improvising academic environment to help learners unleash their potentials for learning and excellence.

The first learning theory is behaviorism that capitalizes mainly on noticeable behaviors among the students during the learning process. Therefore, teachers use this technique to commend students for good behaviors and to use corporal punishment on students found with queer behaviors. Duckworth also extensively explored the literature of Piaget educational theory, which focuses on child developmental processes and stages in order to familiarize with the environment around them. Duckworth and Jean Piaget extensively explored four developmental stages including sensory motor stage, pre-operational stage, concrete operations and formal operational stage necessary for child development. This theory is majorly important to early childhood teachers in customizing the curriculum to facilitate learning of students and conceptual growth.

Finally, Duckworth influenced the society positively as constructive educator, a career that focuses on constructive teaching (constructivism), which focuses on the individual’s personal experiences in order to design models and understanding of the society we live in. In other words, constructivism helps learners to modify their own mental perception from life personal experiences into the way that accommodate new experiences and challenges. Constructivism assists teachers to embrace assessments in evaluating the progress of students as opposed to using grades and standardized testing techniques in elementary schools.

In conclusion, Duckworth from the time of her birth in 1935 developed a goal to pursue psychology not only as a subject but also as a component for inculcating moral values and principles to society. The teachings offer solutions to problems facing learners and teachers to unleash their potential for the best. The educational writings of Duckworth in curriculum development and training of teachers is envisioned in her career. The period she was born is marked with wars. Duckworth being   cognitive psychologist, educational theorist and constructive educator influenced the society and the field of psychology through varied ways including memory, increasing decision-making process and construction of educational curriculum, therapy to couples, behaviors, evaluating the behaviors of students and constructive teaching of students. Therefore, Duckworth career in psychology has a significant role in shaping the society, in learning lives of other psychologists and historical issues in Canada.



 Dobson, A. (2012). Canadian Civil Aviation 1935–45: Flying Between the United States and Great Britain. The International History Review34(4), 655-677.

Dobson, K. S. (2010). Handbook of cognitive-behavioral therapies. New York: Guilford Press.

Duckworth, R.E. (2006). The Having Of Wonderful Ideas: And Other Essays On Teaching and Learning. New York: Teachers College Press.

Noffke, S. E., & Somekh, B. (2009). The Sage handbook of educational action research. London: SAGE Publications.

Phillips, J. (2013). Strong, Beautiful and Modern: National Fitness in Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, 1935–1960 by Charlotte Macdonald (review). Histoire sociale/Social history46(1), 243-245.

Sternberg, R. J., & Mio, J. S. (2009). Cognitive psychology. Australia: Cengage Learning/Wadswort.

Winter, E. (2009). The dialectics of multicultural identity: learning from Canada. World Political Science Review5(1).

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