Professor Reuven Feuerstein (1921-2014)

Professor Reuven Feuerstein (1921-2014)

Professor Reuven Feuerstein was the founder of the Feuerstein Institute and served as its Chairman until his passing in 2014. A clinical, developmental and cognitive psychologist, Professor Feuerstein is responsible for the vision, essence, ideas, and practices that make up the Feuerstein Institute.

The Path to Realizing Human Potential

Reuven Feuerstein was born in Romania in 1921. He began his academic career studying education at the Teachers College of Bucharest (1940-1942), before shifting his focus to psychology at UNESCO College Bucharest in 1942. Simultaneously, Feuerstein worked as a teacher and then principal at a school for children with disabilities. Feuerstein’s studies were interrupted in 1944 when the Nazis invaded Romania and Feuerstein emigrated to Mandate Palestine (modern-day Israel). After a year at the Teachers Seminar of Jerusalem, Feuerstein began working as a special education teacher and youth counselor at the Youth Aliyah Villages. While serving in this position, Feuerstein came to understand and study the varied and complex psychological and educational needs of immigrants, refugees, and other disadvantaged groups.

Feuerstein resumed his academic studies in 1950, pursuing a degree in general and clinical psychology at the University of Geneva in Switzerland (1950-1954). During this time, he also served as the Director of Psychological Services for the Youth Aliyah agency in Europe. Feuerstein then returned to Israel, where he was appointed the Director of the Children’s Clinic for Instruction and Development at Aliyat HaNoar (1955-1983). During this period, Feuerstein also earned his Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the Sorbonne University in Paris (1970) and established the Hadassah WIZO Research Institution in Jerusalem, which engaged in research and development of intervention plans for the advancement of disadvantaged groups.

Feuerstein taught and guest lectured at several universities around the world, including Bar Ilan University in Israel and Yale University in the United States. Feuerstein was a member of several academic committees relating to cognitive development, education, autism and more.

In 1989, Feuerstein established the ‘International Center for the Enhancement of Learning Potential’ – known today as the Feuerstein Institute.

A Man and Psychologist Ahead of His Time

Professor Feuerstein began to develop his theories of structural cognitive modifiability and mediated learning while studying at the University of Geneva. Through his professional work with immigrants, refugees, and persons with disabilities, he found support for his presupposition that intelligence and achievement are not accurately measured by static assessment examinations, such as IQ tests.  Having realized that not everyone learns in the same manner, Feuerstein began to develop his own set of tools in order to assess potential and teach new ways of learning.

From the 1970s until his passing in 2014, Feuerstein created and developed numerous application for his methodology, aimed at integrating and improving the lives of disadvantaged groups. Feuerstein has given hope to hundreds of thousands of people, having provided them with the opportunity to create a significant and life-altering change by improving their functional abilities through their learning aptitude.

For his work, Professor Reuven Feuerstein received many awards, prizes and worldwide recognition for his groundbreaking work in actualizing human potential; he was a recipient of the Israel Prize in Education in 1992, nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2012, and posthumously received the President’s Medal in 2014.  

Quotes

“He was a psychologist ahead of his time, relentlessly walking the path of his professional convictions, against the grain of his generation’s scientific conventions.” – Eyal, Ziona and Uzi Peled

“Feuerstein’s perception was, and is still, revolutionary. He saw a different picture of humanity, as asked decision makers at all levels to ask themselves – what is the potential of the person standing before me? How can we actualize it?” – Professor Amnon Rubinstein

“His life’s work – which consisted not only of groundbreaking theories dozens of years ahead of their time but also resulted in (most importantly) ‘Tikkun Olam’ (repairing the world) – still creates a deep change in the lives of hundreds of people, in Israel and around the world.” – Prof. Yoram Yuval, Head of the Brain Institute’s Emotion Research Center, Haifa University

“Professor Feuerstein was one of the greatest speakers of our time in the field of psychology and education. He was the very image of educational creativity and daring, of a deep motivation for education and boundless love of humanity.” – Professor Menachem Sasson, President of the Hebrew University

“Professor Feuerstein presented a new and revolutionary approach, allowing a different evaluation of the child, teaching them with the help of special methods, and then to test them, enabling an assessment of the child’s ability to change with the help of learning. This approach realistically represents the individual potential for learning and development. The use of this approach saved thousands of children from being labeled as mentally disabled and allowed them access to a life of action and integration into normative society.” – Professor Pnina Klein, Bar Ilan University, winner of the Israel Prize 2011

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