The History of Psychology course is of basic importance for the education of all psychologists. Undergraduate curriculum reports have suggested that course as a capstone, and accreditation guidelines require instruction in the history of psychology. However, in his review of Wade Pickren and Alexandra Rutherford's A History of Modern Psychology in Context, Bruce Henderson points out that history "is frequently taught by amateurs; few teachers of [this] course have formal training in the history of philosophy of psychology."
Only two universities (New Hampshire and York) offer specialties in the history of psychology, and few psychology departments are likely to hire those specialists. If a department offers the course at all, students will be fortunate if their teacher took the course herself or himself.
What's to be done? We could forget about it; other sciences do not require courses in their history yet seem to produce competent graduates. I would prefer to consider two other possibilities: one, an intensive 3- to 4-week institute to prepare teachers of the history of psychology; two, offer an online history course that departments could buy to fill the gap. Henderson's "amateurs" could lead discussions and administer examinations.
By Bruce B. Henderson
PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(37)