Professor Reuven Feuerstein founded the Feuerstein Institute and served for decades as its Chair. A clinical, developmental and cognitive psychologist, he was responsible for the vision as well as theoretical and applied bases of the Institute.
Reuven Feuerstein (1921-2014) was one of nine children born to a Jewish family in Romania. He attended the Teachers College of Bucharest and studied psychology at the Onesco College in Bucharest before fleeing the Nazi invasion of Romania. Settling in Mandate Palestine in 1945, Feuerstein taught child survivors of the Holocaust until 1948. This was the beginning of a long career that would highlight the psychological and educational needs of immigrant, refugee and otherwise disadvantaged populations.
Feuerstein returned to Europe to complete degrees in General and Clinical Psychology at the University of Geneva, where he studied under Andre Rey and Jean Piaget and attended lectures given by luminaries such as Karl Jaspers and Carl Jung. In 1970, Feuerstein earned his PhD in Developmental Psychology at the University of Sorbonne, France. His major areas of study were Developmental, Clinical and Cognitive Psychology.
In the 1950s and 60s Professor Feuerstein served as the Director of Psychological Services of Youth Aliyah in Europe. In this capacity, he was responsible for assigning prospective candidates for emigration to Israel to various educational programs in Israel. He discovered that Moroccan Jewish children did poorly on standardized tests of intelligence, but that their
performance improved dramatically if they were guided by a mediator through the question-and-answer format. Professor Feuerstein began to question widely held beliefs regarding the stability of intelligence. Cultural differences in learning styles, he proposed, were the real educational obstacle. As such, Dr. Feuerstein formulated novel methods of evaluation and new teaching tools that sought points of and developed cognitive flexibility (the ability to learn).
This period was also seminal to the development of Professor Feuerstein’s working hypothesis concerning low-functioning children and their potential for change. His research revealed that the key to meaningful instruction for all children is the mediated relationship. From the 1970s until his passing in 2014, Professor Feuerstein worked in Israel, initially applying the tools he developed for evaluating and teaching cognition to Down syndrome children, and eventually to victims of stroke, dementia, cerebral palsy, autism and other conditions. The Feuerstein Institute not only treats people from around the world, but also trains therapists and educators internationally in the famed Feuerstein Method.
Professor Feuerstein received numerous awards for his ground-breaking work. These include, among others, the Israel Prize in Education and the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques, France. As well, Professor Feuerstein was a 2012 Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
Above all, Professor Feuerstein epitomized the biblical teaching of “Ve’ahavta Le’reacha Kamocha” – “Love your fellow as you love yourself”-regardless of religion, race or nationality. His care for every individual was unparalleled. A clinical genius, he offered hope and direction to thousands of parents of children with special needs and learning challenges. The meaningful and productive lives of these children are his tribute. Reuven Feuerstein touched with love and brilliance hundreds of thousands of people. He will be deeply missed.
To read more about Professor Reuven Feuerstein, please click here. (Link to FI)