Susan Schweik

Sue Schweik photo

Susan Schweik (English) is Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities. A scholar of disability studies, her current book project, Lost and Found: How a Ward of Women at the “Feeble-Minded” Home Taught Us to Teach to the Test, tells the story of Harold Manville Skeels’ experiments beginning in the early 1930s. Skeels, a psychologist, tested the IQs of children in an Iowa orphanage and transferred low-scoring children to the Glenwood State institution. At understaffed Glenwood, two baby girls were given, out of necessity, to a ward of women inmates to care for. Later, Skeels visited the home and once again IQ-tested these children, who to his surprise now scored well. His ensuing landmark studies on the influence of environment and early stimulation on children’s cognitive development are well known, but no one has told the human story of the children, the women who fostered them, and Skeels himself. Schweik’s project places Skeels’ encounters with these women and children in larger context, making a case for the importance of historical perspective in discussions of education, testing, disability, and the normal.