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.” John
Dewey and 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, August 30, 2014
Free Speech on Campus
8:55 am edt
In his recent address to freshmen, Yale President Peter Salovey focused on campus free expression. He recalled the report of a committee that the late historian C. Vann Woodward chaired four decades ago – a
report that became influential nationally.
Woodward and colleagues were appointed to that committee by the late Yale President Kingman Brewster.
The Woodward committee (along with an earlier committee, chaired by the late political scientist Robert Dahl, that addressed
coeducation among other issues) was a subject of a 2013 senior essay by Nathaniel Zelinsky: “Who Governed Yale? Kingman Brewster
and Higher Education in the 1970s.”
An aide to Kingman Brewster, Jonathan
Fanton, later went on to become president of the New School – where for several years I worked for him.
Amid controversies in California
(at Berkeley) and New York (at the New School), a 1996 Wall Street Journal op-ed treated campus free speech.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Humanities, Arts, and Sciences
1:45 pm edt
In a recent column, Nicholas Kristof invoked philosophers Isaiah Berlin, John Rawls, and Peter Singer to argue the importance of the humanities,
as well as the sciences.
Focusing on history and civics (and "STEAM" vs. "STEM"),
a November 2013 piece addressed similar themes.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Blood Demand, Supply
9:53 am edt
Blood is always needed. Unfortunately, an April trip to malaria-prone India precludes me, under Red Cross protocol, from giving blood for a year. In the meantime, let me encourage other blood donors. An estimated 8 percent of potentially eligible U.S. donors give blood each year; we can do better.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
Teachers in Boston Public Schools, and Beyond
7:55 am edt
whose work was mentioned in September 2013 (September 7) and June 2013 posts, was featured – along with teacher Hayden Frederick-Clarke – in a recent public radio discussion: “How to increase the number of black male teachers in Boston public schools.”
Sunday, August 3, 2014
“My Brother’s Keeper” and Literacy
8:58 am edt
The LiteracyEveryday site includes a new blog post about President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative and boys’ reading skills.
Saturday, August 2, 2014
Domestic Violence Problems, Policy, Awareness
7:52 am edt