Stuart Shanker is a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Psychology at York University, in Toronto, Canada and the CEO of the MEHRIT Centre, Ltd. He is best known as one of the world’s leading authorities on self-regulation and child development.
An internationally acclaimed speaker, educator and author, Dr. Shanker has written many influential books and articles including, Calm, Alert and Learning: Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation (2012), one of Canada’s top selling educational publication ever, and Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life (2016) which has been translated into five languages and continues to be an Amazon top-seller in several categories.
In 1975, Dr. Shanker, who had studied English literature at the University of Toronto, received a scholarship to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford. At Oxford he won the Marian Buck Fellowship at Christ Church, where he received his B Phil in philosophy and his D Phil in the philosophy of mathematics. During his post-doctoral fellowship at Oxford he studied Wittgenstein’s critique of Alan Turing’s mechanistic theory of learning, which resulted in his 1998 book Wittgenstein’s Remarks on the Foundations of AI. During this period Shanker became highly interested in child development, which he studied under the eminent developmental psychologist, Jerome Bruner. This led to a burgeoning interest in the the role that emotion and social engagement play in language development. Shortly after Shanker accepted a position at York University, in 1986, he was cross-appointed in both the philosophy and psychology departments, which allowed him to pursue his interests in child development.
During the 1990s Shanker worked and collaborated with many prominent academics, scientists and clinicians, including the anthropologist Barbara King, the primatologist Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, and the linguist Talbot Taylor. In 1998 Shanker began an intensive training in child psychotherapy under the late Stanley Greenspan. He went on to write the award-winning The First Idea with Greenspan (2004).
In 2005 Dr. Shanker received a $7 million grant from the Milton and Ethel Harris Foundation to establish a state-of-the-art cognitive and social neuroscience centre at York University. From 2007 – 2012 he served as director of the Milton and Ethel Harris Research Initiative (MEHRI), which undertook a major study of an adapted version of DIR therapy for children on the autism spectrum. This study showed that the MEHRI version of DIR, called MEHRIT, greatly increased the children’s capacity to share and initiate joint attention and reciprocal interaction with their parents, and to develop important functional language skills.
In 2007 Shanker became the first President of the Canadian Council of Early Child Development. He worked closely with J. Fraser Mustard for the next two years and the two of them, together with Margaret McCain, published Early Years Study II in 2007.
Along with his work as a professor at York University, Dr. Shanker has served as an advisor on early child development to government organizations across Canada and the US and countries around the world, including. Australia, Bosnia, Colombia, England, Hungary, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Peru, Romania, and Serbia. Most recently he served as the 2012 Thinker in Residence for Western Australia, and then returned two years later to follow up on the work that had been initiated during his tenure in Perth. He also served as Director of the Council of Human Development for ten years, an interdisciplinary dynamic systems think tank; and as the Director of the Canada-Cuba Research Alliance for six years.
Throughout his career, Shanker has studied the role of self-regulation in mental and physical wellbeing. He has focused on the beneficial role that stress plays in children’s development and learning and the worrying effects of excessive stress. Over the past five years he developed Shanker Self-Reg®, his five-domain model for understanding, recognizing and alleviating the negative impact of excessive stress. In 2012 he founded The MEHRIT Centre to promote and teach the practice of Self-Reg on a broader scale to teachers and parents.
Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (And You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life (2016), with Teresa Barker
Calm, Alert, and Learning: Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation (2012)
Early Years Study 2: Putting Science into Action (2007), with Fraser Mustard and Margaret Norrie McCain
Human Development in the 21st Century (2007), with Alan Fogel and Barbara J. King
The First Idea: How Symbols, language and intelligence evolved from our primate ancestors to modern humans. (2004), with Stanley Greenspan.
B.Phil., Oxford. First Class
M.A., English Literature, University of Toronto. First Class
B.A., Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, Oxford. First Class
B.A., English Literature, University of Toronto. First Class
Canada Council Doctoral Fellowship and Postdoctoral Fellowship
Calgary Institute for the Humanities Fellowship
University of Alberta Mactaggart Fellowship
Izaak Walton Killam Fellowship at the University of Alberta
Walter L Gordon Fellowship at York University