Psychology has so many roles in our lives. Since the beginning of man’s walk on earth, human behaviour – which is the interest and focus of psychology – has been with us. Hermann Ebbinghaus, quoted by Eric Landrum, said that psychology has a long past but a short history.
As stated above, the focus of psychology is the understanding of human behaviour. As quoted by the American Psychological Association (APA), psychology means the study of mind and behaviour, which historically emerged within the field of philosophy. Since then, it has evolved and is a diverse scientific discipline including several major branches of research such as experimental, biological, cognitive, lifespan, developmental, personality, and social along with the sub-areas of research and applied psychology such as clinical, industrial/organisational, school and educational, human factors, health, neuropsychology, and cross-cultural.
In education, psychology has made a contribution since the Victorian era (Phillips, 1976). Phillips explained that the influence of psychology in education appeared in school curricula at the end of the nineteenth century with the practical activities such as gardening, singing, painting and woodwork. Herbart (1776-1841) is regarded as the best example of the early contribution of psychology to education. He stated that the mind was the central problem of psychology. This statement was followed by most psychologists, including John Dewey (1959-1952). Dewey put psychological theory into practice by introducing workshops, laboratory materials and tools in which students could actively create, construct and inquire,
Dewey can be described as an early cognitive psychologist. Since the essence of learning is the mind, especially in the pre-behaviouralist era, this seems a promising way of applying psychology to education.
Developmental psychology is another promising and emerging psychology in the early years. Psychologists in this field agree that the teacher must understand the stages of growth through which the child passes (Phillips, 1976). It is in line with the statement of James Ward (1843-1925) who stated that every educator must understand that their work is related to a growth mind whose laws should dictate educational practice. He emphasises that the teacher must understand the order of mental development and how it grows by degrees.
Another psychology that the teacher must master is educational psychology. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), educational psychology is the study of how people learn and retain knowledge. This field aims to improve the learning process and promote educational success for all students. Educational psychology helps to understand individual learning and inform the teaching process.
As well as contributing to the learning process and understanding human learning, psychology also works on the applied science discipline – applied educational psychology – to focus on specific learning challenges such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or dyslexia.
We can therefore conclude that psychology plays a major role in education. As mentioned above, education is a process that focuses on the development of the human mind. It shows that the science of psychology is important as it discusses about the mind and social behaviour of human. It emphasizes that teachers, without any hesitation, should understand the psychology especially in educational psychology.