by Geri Fox, MD, Self-published, copyright 2010; Van Nuys, CA, Distributed by Child Development Media, Inc. (www.childdevelopmentmedia.com), DVD versions, $99 to $395.
Geri Fox, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has just completed a second 10-year installment of her teaching videos on normal development, the sequel to her initial project: Normal Development in the First Ten Years of Life. For readers who are not aware of this remarkable teaching tool, Dr. Fox discovered early in her teaching career the importance of videotaped segments of children to supplement her lectures on normal child development. This led her to the idea of systematically videotaping her own two children, from birth onward. She then used these video vignettes in her presentations to medical students and psychiatric residents, selecting clips to illustrate topics such as temperament, attachment, sibling interactions, and developmental progress in cognition, morality, emotional regulation, motor function, and other domains. The success of these teaching videos led her to edit and organize vignettes taken over a 10-year period and to make them available with an accompanying teaching manual.
Having relied on these teaching vignettes in my own longitudinal child development course for pediatric residents, I was particularly pleased to find that Dr. Fox has continued the project—now very much in partnership with her children—for another decade covering middle childhood and adolescence. The newly issued “Normal Development in Middle Childhood and Adolescence” provides 170 video-clip segments in 4 DVDs in the Complete Version, or, in the “Greatest Hits Version,” 39 selected video clips on a single DVD. The vignettes range from less than a half minute to over 7 minutes in duration. They proceed chronologically, covering Dr. Fox's daughter's ages from 10 to 20 years and her son from 5 years to 15½. Each version comes with an Instructor's Manual that lists the clips and the age of the child and provides commentary on potential teaching points. For busy instructors, an especially attractive feature is the “Topic List” that suggests vignettes to use in presentations on 20 different topics, from traditional developmental domains, teen social dynamics, bullying and teasing, risky behaviors, parenting, and many others. The technical quality of the vignettes is for the most part very good, and the DVD format allows immediate selection of the desired clips.
I have now had an opportunity to use these vignettes in my recent presentations to pediatric residents on normal development in adolescence. As with the earlier set, the ability to show video clips of a single subject across years and in every-day settings has been a great advantage for stimulating thought and discussion. I have found that the video snapshots have immediacy for trainees, often triggering their own memories of teenage life. The vignettes exemplify and animate developmental principles that may otherwise be difficult for residents or students to absorb in a lecture format.
I was especially struck by the valuable coverage of the development of social relationships and the testimony of the two teens in connection with their developing self-concept and identity. There are excellent examples of self-observation, comparisons with peers, and musings about what is important to them and to their future. In this sense, these are teens who may be more “gifted” than most in their capacity for self-reflection and self-expression. Yet, they describe themes and dilemmas that can easily be generalized.
This series is loaded with examples of what it means to be a loving, functioning, and functional family. Several clips take up the inevitable tensions between the adolescents' insistent desires and the parents' rules and expectations. Vignettes provide a window on how conflicts connected with those rules tend to be settled and also zero in on examples of quieter and more intimate interactions in the family. A special bonus in my view is Dr. Fox, herself, who provides many examples of how a parent might ask her teen about important and sensitive questions, probe for and then accept her feelings, or assist in problem solving—all the while maintaining the parental position. In this sense, the vignettes offer trainees an opportunity to envision a model of parenting and of youth.
In summary, this is a rich mine of video examples for teaching child development. I can recommend it wholeheartedly to all interested faculty. For those interested in viewing samples of this work, clips can be found at http://www.psych.uic.edu/faculty/fox.htm and contact Dr. Fox at email@example.com for further information.
Lane Tanner, MD
Division of Mental Health and Child Development
Children's Hospital & Research Center at Oakland