Professor Reuven Feuerstein (1921-2014)
Professor Feuerstein was the Founder and Chairman of the Feuerstein Institute. A clinical, developmental and cognitive psychologist, he is responsible for the vision, concepts, practices and substance of what makes up the Feuerstein Institute.
Reuven Feuerstein (b. 1921, Romania) was one of nine siblings. He attended the Teachers College of Bucharest and studied psychology at the Onesco College in Bucharest before being forced to flee for his life by the Nazi invasion of Romania. After settling in Mandate Palestine in 1945, he taught child survivors of the Holocaust until 1948. This was the beginning of a long career that would address 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 when standard IQ tests were administered to Moroccan Jewish children they did poorly, but if guided through the question-answer format by a mediator, the children’s performance improved dramatically. This experience made Professor Feuerstein question current beliefs regarding the stability of intelligence, and posit that cultural differences in learning styles were the real issue. He developed new methods of evaluation and new teaching tools that searched for cognitive flexibility (the ability to learn) and built on those abilities.
This period was also seminal to the development of Professor Feuerstein’s working hypothesis concerning low-functioning children and their potential for change. Through research, he discovered that the key to meaningful instruction for all children is the mediated relationship. Since the 1970’s Professor Feuerstein has been working 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, which he founded and directed, not only treats people from around the world but also trains therapists and educators internationally in the famed Feuerstein Method.
For his groundbreaking work, Professor Feuerstein has received numerous awards. These include, among others, the Israel Prize in Education; and the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques, France. He also was a 2012 Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
Above all, Professor Feuerstein epitomized the teaching of “Veahavta LeReacha Kamocha – love your fellow as you love yourself”-regardless of religion, race or nationality. His care for each individual who came for help and guidance was unparalleled. A genius clinician, he gave hope and direction to many thousands of parents of children with special needs and learning difficulties about how to advance and integrate them and bring them to lead meaningful, giving lives. He has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and will be sorely missed by all who knew him and knew of him.