March 20, 2008
Vol. 27 No. 12

current issue
archive / search
Chronicle RSS Feed

    Thelen used group dynamic theories in research, as neighbor

    Herbert Thelen, Professor Emeritus in Education, whose work concentrated on the development of a behavioral science rationale for educational processes, died Feb. 5 in Laguna Woods, Calif. He was 94.

    Thelen was a pioneer in the field of group dynamics and created a laboratory to study students on the fourth floor of Blaine Hall at the Laboratory Schools.

    He used his research to write five books, Dynamics of Groups at Work, Emotional Dynamics and Group Cultures, Education and the Human Quest, Classroom Grouping for Teachability and The Classroom Society.

    A native of Berkeley, Calif., he received a B.A. in Chemistry in 1934 and an M.A. in Chemistry in 1938 from the University of California, Berkeley.

    He was a high school teacher in Oakland, Calif., and an instructor at Oklahoma A&M College before coming to the University, where he received a Ph.D. in Education in 1944.

    He joined the faculty in 1945 and retired in 1979. During his tenure, he served as Chairman of Educational Psychology.

    Thelen helped organize the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and worked on the development of block groups, which gave neighbors of all races a chance to work together on common concerns. He received the Mayor’s Commission on Human Relations annual award in 1951 for his work.

    He married Leonora Elizabeth Knox in 1937. She died in 1977. He married Sophia Lazarus in 1977. She died in 2004.

    Survivors include son, David, daughter, Marian Kontek, two grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and twin brother, Edmund.

    A service was held Saturday, March 8 in Laguna Woods, Calif. Donations may be made in Thelen’s memory to Chikaming Open Lands, a project to preserve land near Lakeside, Mich. Donations may be sent to 14913 Lakeside Road, P.O. Box 291, Lakeside, MI 49116.