Reflecting on More than a Decade of Teaching Current Directions: Some Greatest Hits and Thanks to David Myers

Thank you, David Myers!

Teaching Current Directions remains committed to bringing cutting-edge psychological science into the classroom. We can link the column’s birth to two sources: APS Executive Director Emeritus Alan Kraut and the glacial pace of academia. In 2002, Kraut wrote to Hope College Psychology Professor David Myers with the germ of an idea to connect Current Directions in Psychological Science’s content to the classroom. But the teaching column idea simmered on the back burner, never finding the right time to start. A decade later, Myers recruited me as a successor coauthor for his Introduction to Psychology textbook series. To help break the ice on our new working relationship as a duo, we started Teaching Current Directions.

Now in its 11th year, Teaching Current Directions has become a mainstay of the Observer. The column has reached classrooms worldwide, showcasing Current Directions research that students can understand and use in their everyday lives. The column’s contents and contributors continue to evolve. What started with only two authors has grown to include psychological scientists with various backgrounds and areas of expertise, including APS Fellow Cindi May (College of Charleston), Gil Einstein (Furman University), Beth Morling (University of Delaware), Michael Scullin (Baylor University), June Gruber (University of Colorado Boulder), Salena Brody (University of Texas at Dallas), Regan Gurung (Oregon State University), and Elizabeth Yost Hammer (Xavier University of Louisiana).

See all Teaching Current Directions columns

Here, I share the 10 most widely read Teaching Current Directions columns. I also include our contributors’ dedication to column cofounder David Myers. Myers has transitioned away from the column to focus on his textbook writing, TalkPsych blog, and philanthropic projects.

Top 10 most widely read Teaching Current Directions columns:

Thanks to Teaching Current Directions cofounder David Myers 

“Thanks to David Myers for inspiring me to become a psychological scientist and to devote my professional life to teaching psychological science through writing. Myers has taught more people psychological science through his writing than anyone else. To learn from him through our work on Teaching Current Directions has been nothing short of life changing. Most people say you should never meet your heroes. Clearly, they’ve never met David Myers.”

—Nathan DeWall, University of Kentucky 

“I’ve been a reader and fan of Dave’s work for about 2 decades. Like many of my students, I appreciate and love how Dave writes in a way that inspires curiosity and how his tone is always warm and inviting. Besides his textbook writing—a gift to our field—I would like to share a more personal example of Dave’s writing. Dave has taken the time to write encouraging notes about my writing over the years. This has meant the world to me (I’ve saved them!). It is so meaningful to hear words of encouragement from someone you admire so much, who is truly a gentle giant in psychology. Thank you, Dave, for all of your writing—for the parts that are public and for the small gestures of kindness that make a big impact, too.”

—Salena Brody, University of Texas at Dallas 

“Few psychology translators are more adept at distilling complex ideas to a broader audience than David Myers. There are even fewer writers who have a knack for facilitating the teaching of psychology. Dave’s passion for advancing the teaching of psychology infused each column, making the Teaching Current Directions a must-read and a font of pedagogical inspiration.”

—Regan Gurung, Oregon State University 

“Off the page, David Myers is known for his grace, optimism, and kindness; these qualities inspire and move everyone he meets. Working on the column with Dave Myers has been just as magical as you’d expect. Dave’s love for psychology and breadth of knowledge make his scientific feedback invaluable. But his wisdom about the craft of writing, communicated during line edits, may be what I’ve appreciated the most. I think of Dave whenever I use the lilt of alliteration or the punch of a pithy phrase. I channel his advice when rearranging sentences to put the important stuff last. And nobody’s better than Dave at finding the hook. I’m deeply grateful to him for his generous mentorship.” 

—Beth Morling, University of Delaware 

“I never enjoyed homework until I was assigned Dave Myers’ introductory psychology textbook. As an aimless freshman who was distracted by video games, the best you’d get from me was a skimming of reading assignments. So, imagine my parents’ surprise when I returned home for the summer and spent my time reading a textbook! I wanted to consume the content again and read the chapters that hadn’t been assigned for the class. I suspect there are many psychology students with similar stories. I am one of the lucky individuals who have gotten to work with Dave for the Teaching Current Directions series. Dave has been a graceful colleague, always providing supportive feedback. He has a gift for making his critiques feel like you’re landing on a featherbed. Dave has also been exceptional at welcoming critiques of his writings and expressing gratitude for the feedback. His teaching columns were outstanding, including the ones on scams (“The Art of the Steal”), technology and happiness (“Digital-Media Use and Mental Health”), and the benefits of education (“Education Matters: Making the Mind’s Muscles”). It’s hard to pick a favorite because each of his columns embodies what I most love about his writing: cheerfulness. He’s like a tour guide who wants to show you a new field solely for your enjoyment. If I didn’t know better, I’d say his sentences were smiling at me.”

—Michael Scullin, Baylor University 

“I don’t know where to begin when describing David Myers’s impact on psychology. His textbooks have provided so many students with an entry point into psychology. When reminiscing with my husband (a social psychologist), we realized he used the first edition of Dave’s text in his introductory psychology course. I am most familiar with Dave’s contributions to the high school psychology community through his AP text. In writing and revising this text, he prioritizes the student experience, using an accessible and engaging writing style that is relatable and fosters growth. Further, he infuses compassion, humility, and kindness throughout. He extended his impact when he began writing the Teaching Current Directions feature. This feature supports instructors who want to bring cutting-edge research to their students. The feature provides specific learning activities for instructors and a model that instructors can use for any article of interest. I can only imagine that this feature, like his textbooks, was designed to enhance students’ education experience, providing not only an entry point but exposing them to the breadth of the field.”

—Elizabeth Yost Hammer, Xavier University of Louisiana 

“Dave wrote the textbook assigned in my very first psychology course in college, and that book drew me in and ignited my curiosity for the field. Reading Dave’s work is like conversing with your most knowledgeable yet unassuming friend. Dave’s writing is simultaneously precise and universally engaging, complex and accessible, objective and passionate. Writing a teaching column with him was a genuine honor, and I am grateful for his feedback, which was always insightful, impactful, and kind.”

—Cindi May, College of Charleston   

Feedback on this article? Email [email protected] or login to comment.


What a treat to read more about the unique work of David Myers, who has been inspiring colleagues and students for well over half a century since his own PhD in 1967. A GREAT thank you David.

APS regularly opens certain online articles for discussion on our website. Effective February 2021, you must be a logged-in APS member to post comments. By posting a comment, you agree to our Community Guidelines and the display of your profile information, including your name and affiliation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations present in article comments are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of APS or the article’s author. For more information, please see our Community Guidelines.

Please login with your APS account to comment.