Public Lecture Series

Advancing our understanding of children’s development and learning

The Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study is honoured to present two named free and public lecture series: the Leighton G. McCarthy Memorial Lecture and the Robbie Case Memorial Lecture.

These events, which typically occur annually on alternating years, feature speakers who bring together the educational and psychological communities, among others, to help advance our understanding of children’s development and learning.

Please see below a description of Robbie Case and Leighton G. McCarthy, and the donors that have made these lecture series possible.

Robbie Case Memorial Lecture

Robbie Case was born in Barrie, Ontario, in 1944. His post-secondary education began with McGill University, where Robbie received a Bachelor of Science and Psychology degree in 1965, after which he worked abroad in Israel for a year teaching high school English and Physics. Robbie received his Masters in 1968 and his doctoral degree in 1971, with both degrees done here at the University of Toronto. In 1970 and ’71 Robbie worked as a Research Associate at OISE. He became an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, in the mid-70s, and he returned to OISE as Associate Professor from 1976 to the late 80s. In 1988, Robbie returned to California, but this time as full Professor at the School of Education at Stanford University.

Robbie Case became a leading researcher in the field of child and adolescent cognitive development, and his work continues to inspire many. Robbie was a gifted and devoted teacher, generous with his time and encouragement. He searched for practical applications of his research, trying to enhance learning for all children and believed

that inquiry and problem solving was the most effective way to learn. A leading neo-Piagetian, Robbie Case had developed internationally recognized theories on intellectual development, and was the author of the seminal work, “The Mind’s Staircase: Exploring the Conceptual Underpinnings of Children’s Thought and Knowledge”. He also co-authored “The New Structuralism in Developmental Theory and Research: Analysis of Individual Developmental Pathways.”

Robbie returned to Toronto, and OISE, as Professor in 1993, and in 1999 Robbie was made Professor Emeritus at Stanford. In 2000 he became the Director of the Institute of Child Study. It was a great loss when Robbie died later that year.

The Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study is grateful to the many friends and family of Prof. Robbie Case who contributed to his memorial fund that made this lecture possible. Jackman ICS also recognizes the generous support of The Laidlaw Foundation.

Past Robbie Case Memorial Lectures

A Theory of Numerical Development: Building on Robbie Case’s Insights

Distinguished scholar and Teresa Heinz Professor of Cognitive Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University Dr. Robert S. Siegler presented an engaging look at numerical development and cognition at the 2015 Robbie Case Memorial Lecture on Monday night, hosted by the Dr. R.G.N. Laidlaw Centre at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study. Despite bitter cold and plummeting temperatures across the region, Dr. Siegler’s visit attracted a full house of interested researchers, graduate students, teachers and academics from across the province and as far away as California. Dr. Siegler was a close friend and colleague of Robbie Case, a world-renowned leader of research into children’s mathematical development and former ICS director, who passed away in 2000. Dr. Siegler’s talk, entitled An Integrated Theory of Numerical Development: Following in the Footsteps of Robbie Case, highlighted some of Robbie’s lifelong contributions to numerical cognition research, including “integrating Piagetian and information processing insights into a classic theory of cognitive development,” while being a “devoted mentor” and “setting the standard as a gentleman and a scholar”. Throughout Dr. Siegler’s address, audience members were presented with the challenges faced by educators when teaching the effects of whole number and fraction magnitudes on basic arithmetic functions such as multiplication and division. We also learned how commonplace activities such as playing counting and board games with children can improve their ongoing knowledge and understanding of the exciting world of mathematics that surrounds our daily lives.

ROBERT PIANTA, Dean of the Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

The Robbie Case Memorial Lecture, in association with ‘Investing in Mothers and Children’ –  a Connaught Global Challenge International Symposium to mark the official opening of the Fraser Mustard Institute for Human Development – welcomed keynote speaker ROBERT PIANTA, Dean of the Curry School of Education, University of Virginia.

Dr. Pianta spoke to a full auditorium on the topic Elevating the Capacity of Classroom Experiences for Promoting Students’ Learning and Development: Observation and Improvement of Teacher-Student Interactions.

PAUL HARRIS, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University

The Robbie Case Memorial Lecture was pleased to present guest speaker Prof. Paul Harris from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. Prof. Harris spoke on the topic of Trusting what you’re told: How children learn from others.

View the lecture on OISE’s You Tube Channel

 This special event marks the 20th Anniversary Year of the Dr. R.G.N. Laidlaw Centre for research at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study.

ADELE DIAMONDCanada Research Chair Tier 1 Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, University of British Columbia

Leading developmental cognitive neuroscientist Dr Adele Diamond spoke about her work with children in her lecture, Resonating with Robbie Case – Continuing His Legacy: Current approaches to optimizing all aspects of a child’s development on February 11.

Dr. Fraser Mustard introduced Dr. Adele Diamond, whose work was highlighted in a Sunday New York Times Magazine feature on children. More background information is available on Dr. Diamond’s Lab Website .  Concluding remarks by Prof. Carl Corter, Atkinson Chair, Early Child Development & Education (OISE/ICS).

Prof. Howard Gardiner, Harvard University, 2007

Prof. Anne McKeough, University of Calgary, 2005

Leighton G. McCarthy Memorial Lecture

McCarthy was a distinguished Canadian who served as the Canadian Ambassador to the United States (1941–1945) and as a Member of Parliament for North Simcoe (1899–1908). He was a highly respected businessman and a prominent lawyer. He enjoyed a close personal friendship with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was a great friend of Prime Ministers Mackenzie King and Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Leighton G. McCarthy served on the University of Toronto’s Governing Council from 1936 to 1942 and bequeathed his family home to the University, which became the new home of the 

University’s Institute of Child Study in 1953. Leighton Goldie McCarthy House, at 45 Walmer Road, in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood, continues to be the main facility for the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study. Plans are underway for a renovation and expansion of McCarthy House.

The Leighton G. McCarthy Memorial Lectures and other McCarthy public events presented by the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study are named in memory of this great Canadian and supported through the generosity of The Hope Charitable Foundation.

Past McCarthy Memorial Lectures

7:00 p.m. OISE Ground Floor Library

Guest speaker Paul Tough, education author and former editor of the New York Times Magazine, spoke on the topic of his latest book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. Read the August 31, 2012 Globe and Mail review and interview with Paul Tough and the August 23, 2012 New York Times Sunday Book Review.

Prof. Alison Gopnik, Child Study Centre, University of California at Berkeley, author of The Philosophical Baby

This was a special 85th Anniversary Event presented by the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study in honour of its founding grant from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Fund in 1925-26, and recognizing its sister institution, the Child Study Center at the University of California at Berkeley. Approximately, eighty-five years ago, six child study centres were seeded by the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Fund and established at Columbia University, University of California at Berkeley, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota, University of Toronto, and Yale University

Panel Discussion

Entitled “Acting on a Vision for Universal Child Care: Integrating early childhood education and support services for families”.

Panelists: The Hon. Margaret Norrie McCain, Prof. Carl Corter, City Councillor Janet Davis, Hon. Ken Dryden, Paul Tough (author), and Hon. Justin Trudeau.

Moderated by CBC TV host and author, Evan Solomon.


2005, with Prof. Nel Noddings of Standford University: “Happiness and Education: What does it mean to educate the whole child?”