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Practically Idealistic blog
The title for this blog originated with use of the term “practical idealist” in this 1996 opinion piece, which asked: “To what kind of work should a practical idealist aspire?” A century and a half earlier, Emerson, in his 1841 essay Circles, wrote: “There are degrees in idealism.  We learn first to play with it academically. . . .  Then we see in the heyday of youth and poetry that it may be true, that it is true in gleams and fragments.  Then, its countenance waxes stern and grand, and we see that it must be true.  It now shows itself ethical and practical.”  Mahatma Gandhi embraced practical idealism in the 20th century, as did UN Secretary General U Thant.  Al Gore invoked it in a 1998 speech. In the context of this blog, the term is meant to convey idealism tempered but not overwhelmed by realism: a search for the ideal on a path guided by common sense.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

“A Father Reflects on Reproductive Choice”

As Father’s Day approached, I published an opinion piece arguing that men often benefit from women’s reproductive rights and should more vocally support women in securing those rights, and health more broadly.

Similar versions of the article appear at Connecticut Viewpoints and via Medium.

4:25 pm edt 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Honoring Mnikesa Whitaker

Today my son and I were in the audience at Fair Haven School for an impressive performance of dance and music in honor of Mnikesa Whitaker – English teacher and founder of Ballet Haven.  

Kesa Whitaker has been mentioned previously on this blog, for example in a December 2013 (December 28) post.

4:55 pm edt 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

“Positive Coaching”

Last week, I attended an evening panel discussion featuring several Yale varsity athletic coaches.  They were participating under the auspices of the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA).

Themes included:

*  “Fierce competitiveness” is “a good thing – until it isn’t,” when taken to extremes, undermining such values as “sportsmanship” and “a respect for the game” (moderator Jack Ford).

*  “Enthusiasm” as a key quality in players; “anger” as “the easiest emotion, and usually the least useful emotion” (men’s hockey coach Keith Allain).

*  Sport’s value in teaching “how to compete”; “you learn to overcome adversity” and “injury” and to cultivate teamwork (former football coach Carm Cozza).

*  Forms of “hazing” are increasingly taboo and even “illegal” (women’s volleyball coach Erin Appleman).

*  The virtue of remaining “calm” with referees and, keeping in mind the “end goal,” having “fun” and “learning” as well as winning (men’s basketball coach James Jones).

*  “Respect” for yourself, your game, your team, your institution; “play hard and have fun” as a player, while coaches establish clear communication and expectations with parents as well as players (football coach Tony Reno).

In conclusion, Andy Crossley of the PCA noted how that organization aims to place the pursuit of winning in context, as basketball coach James Jones had argued.  PCA tries to counter hazing and bullying, offers workshops on use of social media, and recognizes “double-goal coaches” who not only seek to win but also to teach “life lessons through sport.”

Some of these themes have surfaced on this blog before, including in a December 2011 (December 24) post about “positive coaching” and in a May 2013 (May 4) post about “Coaching Boys into Men,” as well as in posts about Yale and UConn basketball.

8:34 am edt 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Literacy Blog

The LiteracyEveryday blog includes posts about President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative and, now, alliance.

9:07 am edt 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Literacy Forum: Why Is Math Important?

The New Haven Independent published my account of a recent event on “quantitative literacy” or “numeracy,” exploring “Why Is Math Important?” as part of a Literacy Forum series.

7:49 am edt 

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