Introduction to educational psychology practice
The term ‘educational psychology’ is in itself something of a ‘puzzle’ for, as James (2001: 3) once said, ‘Psychology is a science and teaching is an art’. So, it is important from the outset to appreciate that any combination of these two will clearly call for a unique blend of scientific knowledge and skilled applied practice. Thus, unlike some of their laboratory-bound colleagues, educational psychologists are ‘applied scientists’ working across the social contexts of the school, the family, and society. Educational psychology, like education itself, is influenced by both political and societal factors and this becomes particularly evident when looking at the broader, international picture where even the ‘prevalence’ of educational psychologists is quite diverse: while countries such as the USA, Finland, Denmark, and France report a significant presence of educational psychologists, Jimerson and his colleagues found that in German and Italian schools, educational psychologists are ‘almost non-existent’ ( Jimerson et al. 2008: 22). Boyle and Lauchlan’s chapter on A comparative overview of educational psychology across continents (Chapter 4, this volume) looks in greater depth at this international perspective while the present chapter focuses primarily on the many changes that have taken place in England in response to government directives, and highlights the current ‘shifting sand’ nature of the job and the resulting reports of low confidence within the profession (Boyle and Lauchlan 2009).