Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Often referred to as the “Father of Modern Educational Psychology,” Thorndike incorporated measurement into education and psychology, as well as developing testing of animals and studies of learning in humans.
Edward Lee Thorndike was born August 31, 1874, in Williamsburg, Massachusetts. Thorndike was the second son and the second of four children of Edward Roberts Thorndike and Abigail Brewster (Ladd) Thorndike. His father had first practiced law and later became a Methodist clergyman. Reared in a clergyman’s home, Thorndike and his siblings were expected to be models for the congregation and to strive for excellence.
The religious environment of the Thorndike home has been described as austere, and the children constantly participated in church activities. As an adult, Edward Thorndike financially supported the local Methodist church, but he did not attend or require attendance of his children. Thorndike guided his later life by nonsectarian ethical precepts, rather than by the religious precepts of his upbringing.
Intellectual pursuits were important in the home. Thorndike’s mother, Abigail, was a highly intelligent woman, and the children were stimulated by their home environment as well as by contact with the sophisticated congregations of the Boston-Cambridge area. The four children all went on to earn excellent grades and scholarships, and all...
(The entire section is 1645 words.)
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