Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Roger Prince Reflects

Roger talks about the Studio and My Dad

Morgan Studio was very much a product of my father’s view of how things ought to be. Of course, I have carried many lessons with me all my life. What a pleasure it was to chat with a Roger Prince on December 22, 2015. We were on the phone for 90 joyful minutes. It is the anecdotal stuff of legends that I feel compelled to record here. Roger is 80 and my father passed just over two years ago and yet the memories of the familiar nuances remain.  The following notes are presented to share. As always, I take some poetic license but welcome further discussion of detail and larger implications.

On being hired
Roger reported that he interviewed with a production manager when a client meeting made it not possible to meet with my father. He left his portfolio. A telegram from my father summoned him back downtown “Can you meet me today?” The result was being offered a job. It’s telling that this young man in his early 20’s was so thrilled that salary was not even a part of the discussion.
Basic Training
My father liked military precision and likened his indoctrination as a sort of basic training. Roger, was not alone in finding this distasteful. Jim Morgan had ideas about how things should be done and he was the boss. Roger clearly remembers, in hindsight however, the value of swallowing his pride. So much of what Jim Morgan was asking for made sense.
Competitive Leverage
Wyse Advertising was a sort of cross town rival but with a big agency orientation. (Morgan Studio and Wyse were both founded in 1951 and this was 1955). Roger managed to get an offer that included the title of Art Director. Jim Morgan was able to match that offer and keep Roger. Roger settled in at the Studio for the balance of the decade leading up to 1960.
Roger was able to mimic my father so well that I could recognize the cadence of his voice calling for Mary Evers when the Art Director was a few minutes late to work one day. “Mary, Mary, Mary…Roger here apparently wants to change our hours. Roger --- What time do you think we ought to start around here? 9:05? 9:11? Or perhaps it would be more to your liking if we started at 9:15?” Great stuff (and a wonderful illustration of how important being on time was to the Morgan Studio model.
Mary Mary
Mary Evers was chief administrator at Morgan Studio and Mary Morgan was my mom. Both Marys figured in the success formula and support network of Mr. Morgan. Not surprisingly, Roger and the employees liked to speculate and imagine a more salacious bond between the Mary and Jim at work. Roger was more than a bit amused to learn that mom would sometimes refer to the studio’s Mary as “twinkletoes.” The dynamics of women in my father’s life is the subject of a much longer discussion. Suffice it to say both Marys were incredible and indispensible.
A Big Car and a Boatride
Roger reported an incidence that began one day at work with Jim Morgan waving to Roger with his thumb gesturing to follow him and waving others in the shop to follow him. The employees did not know where they were going as they followed the leader. They found themselves in front of the Caxton Building where my mom’s White Lincoln Continental was waiting for them. At dad’s urging they piled into the car and he drove them to the 9th street pier where dad’s boat, The Leprechaun, was waiting. Roger described a quick round trip to the five mile crib on Lake Erie and a return to work. According to Roger, “Jim said --- I just wanted you to see the boat you helped me buy.” 
Layouts and Humility
Roger described a Jim Morgan that could be both cruel and supportive. He offered an example of reviewing some layouts that he critiqued with a devastating rejection. “These are Nnnnothing,” Jim Morgan said.  This was near the end of his run at Morgan Studio --- Roger was at the end of his rope. He admitted to being angry and needing an hour or so to cool down. He threw and broke a small radio. Roger gathered the layouts and peeked in on my father at his drawing table to discover him smiling and offering . “You finally got mad about something.” It was as if the object of the game was not about design but passion. 

Roger, Thanks for sharing these stories. The best thing about our conversation (for me) is your comment at the end of the ninety minutes. You said, “I learned a lot from your father and the reason I am telling you these things is that I built my business based on the Morgan Studio model and I wanted to thank your father. Talking to his son is the next best thing.”


Roger Prince passed on Saint Patrick's Day in 2018. I hope he will meet up with my parents in heaven. I hope he's on time, though. God Bless You Roger.   

Roger Prince, 82, of Wadsworth, passed away Saturday, March 17, 2018. He was born May 11, 1935 in Ironton, OH to the late Floyd and Martha Prince.Mr. Prince was a graduate of Wadsworth High School Class of 1953, was a self employed graphic designer, artist and owner of Roger Prince Design. He wanted to always be near a window to see the trees, sunshine and loved the outdoors. His life was spent in the arts, he enjoyed music, especially classical and jazz. He had a great sense of humor. At the age of 10 he wrote a comic strip for the Wadsworth News – Banner and was a talented painter. Roger is survived by his son David of New York City, sister Mona Jenkins of Savannah, GA, his life long friend Rick Hoffner of Akron and his former wife Teri (Dibble) Surratt.The family will receive friends 9-11am Wednesday at the Hilliard Rospert Funeral Home, 174 N. Lyman St., Wadsworth. Graveside service will follow at Woodlawn Cemetery. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015


I used to be a big deal;
Never had to pay for a meal;
Business prevailed almost on a whim;
Around the clock, fit and trim;
Looking good --- like it will last;
The future is bright with no regard for the past.

History repeats, but what do we learn?
Times change --- you continue to earn.
Myopia hits a blind spot and ka-boom.
Now who’s the smartest in the room?
Family, friends, and friends of friends everywhere;
You know who you are and you know that I care.

No frills, cheap thrills and all in retrospect;
The sun sets on a day and your own self respect;
The best of times were those with nothing at stake;
Philosophers dream but dreams do not make.
A wise man looks and is one who sees;
Blue skies and splashes of color in the trees.

Clarity of vision, simple, clean and crisp;
Proceed with caution but never without risk.
When there is a will of a way with some time to chill;
On this day I thank you, love you and admire you still.
The best is yet to come --- The best and then some; 
For now, cherish the moment for your day will come.
Fast forward if you must.
In G-d we trust.
Remember quality is in the journey --- In how we proceed.
Be calm and confident and you will always lead.
Generation gaps quickly merge as time slips away.
But please smell the flowers along the way.

It's not how you arrive;
It is great to be alive.
It is not what you have, but what you do;
Make a difference --- it doesn’t matter who.
Let it be --- Roll the dice.
Together now --- isn’t that so nice?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Exploring Art in Iowa

A weekend road trip of 800+ miles on October 10-11, 2015 from St. Louis to Des Moines and Davenport (IA) and back with six passionate art fans looking to put their association with the Laumeier Sculpture Park into a kind of perspective is sure to be an eclectic collection of people. So we were: Shown above (l. to r).at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park flanking Paul Kasal – our expert and awesome docent wearing a t-shirt with the apt advertising claim“Entirely Unexpected” are Maureen Jennings, Melissa Loraine Stone, Ann Baur and Wes Morgan, Liz Murphy and Hank Baur .

The weekend included three wonderful art experiences hosted by expert docents in Des Moines and a first rate academic from the University of Iowa at the Figge in Davenport. We filled gaps in our itinerary with meal occasions,lost car keys,smart phone misdirections and periodic absent-mindedness but overall we feel like we enjoyed a huge dose of unexpected excellence, representative art and a few smiles.     
JOHN & MARY PAPPAJOHN SCULPTURE PARK - Located within a major crossroads of the urban grid in downtown Des Moines the park is in an accessible setting with a skilled landscape design. It is unlike any other sculpture park in the United States. Paul, our docent introduced us to more than two dozen stunning examples of world class public art.
DES MOINES ART CENTER - Recognized by international art critics as a world-class museum has a noteworthy art collection and boasts an outstanding collection of architecture too. Three architects collaborated in the design of the museum, Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei and Richard Meier. We were treated to a wonderful stroll from gallery space to gallery space and delighted by the unexpected excellence of significant works that felt as leisurely as leafing through a folio that might accompany a brilliantly planned overview of the history of modern and contemporary art.  

FIGGE ART MUSEUM University of Iowa Museum of Art curator Kimberly Datchuck assured us of a tight presentation of a special exhibition entitled Exploring the Demimonde: Sin and Temptation at the fin-de-si├Ęcle. She smoothly walked us through the special exhibition leaving time for our crew to also take in the permanent collection. A bonus: The Figge landmark glass building in Davenport, IA on the banks of the Mississippi was designed by British architect David Chipperfield.


Keith Harring at Sculpture Park, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) at Des Moines Art Center, Nomade by Jaume Plensa at the Sculpture Park, Liz Murphy in front of a Mark Rothko at the Des Moines Art Center and Sol LeWitt at the Figge Art Museum

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Meditation of Presence

Carts & Cocktails 2015

Tree Dancers, Tree Bands, Music and the Fine Art Center at Laumeier Sculpture Park

Executive Director, Marilu Knode knew, in the mix of so much activity around the capital campaign, the renovation of the estate house and the building of the brand new Fine Art Center --- that to pull off another ambitious blockbuster fundraiser evening event would be a gamble. And yet September 26, 2015 was a glorious evening at the Sunset Hills living laboratory where artists and audiences explore the relationship between contemporary art and the natural environment.

Special Events Committee Co-Chairs Susan Werrenmeyer and Sam Foxman planned a progressive evening in three stations that would unfold during the course of the night. A natural place to start is just off the back porch of the place Henry and Matilda Laumeier once called home. Under paper lanterns, the guests gathered, enjoying the first round of appetizers, wine and signature beverages. Only a hint of a soft breeze of Fall was in the air when museum curator Dana Turkovic announced a dance performance by Holly and David Marchant. The cocktail conversation died down as the attention drifted skyward as the Zen-like movements in a treetop. David moved lightly through the branches and returned to earth as a natural creature helped direct the focus to his partner closer to the base of another nearby tree. It was mesmerizing.

30 captivating minutes closed with a calmness that yielded to applause as the shuttle carts arrived on cue for transport through the park and into the woods where music by the Bottoms Up Blues Gang performed inside the Beverly Pepper earthwork, Cromlech Glen, under a still black sky. Another ephemeral experience diffused as the progressive evening moved to a finale at the Adam Aronson Fine Arts Center.



Saturday, August 1, 2015

Labadie Gems

Wolf Hollow is far away but close in a way too. Their website claims they are a St. Louis hidden gem – a golf course designed by Mother Nature. Well sure, it follows that mom would want her kids to have fun but with the requisite challenges. Our foursome on this, the best weather day of the entire summer, is an all-star cast (if I’m the one doing the casting). So it begins - we find our way to Labadie, MO.

Dave Cox – Cast as my bestest friend. Why? Well all my bestest friends since I was in high school have been called Dave. So I can tell a story of nearly any important period in my life that begins with: So my friend Dave and I...  Also because Dave is an incredibly good sport when he is inexplicably the target of my convoluted jokes.

Tom Shaughnessy – The Journeyman software specialist is perhaps the most fun guy in the world to traverse a challenging golf course. Tom’s wife says he likes the game because it is like a five-hour math problem. I love riding in a cart with him because he shows me how to use that part of my brain. Not because I ever will, but because I like knowing there might be potential there.

Mike Malloy – Filling in for our regular band-mate Rowdy Jones, Mike demonstrates how the game can be played almost effortlessly. And who knew? He’d come up with cigars and salami sandwiches. Mike thinks of everything. And by the way, thanks for the lesson Mike.

Wes Morgan – Starring role? Well sure. It’s all about me. I chose the venue (by virtue of my winning ticket from a PTO fundraiser last winter). As team captain, I get to make unilateral decisions for the group, even though I am easily the worst player. God forbid the conversation drifts in favor of anyone else. I simply introduce a subject more squarely about me. It’s good to be King.

It all adds up to a few laughs and a spectacular day – this last day in July 2015. I’d give the reader a hole-by-hole account but in the interest of brevity, I think I’ll just share a few highlights. So, my friend Dave is telling himself not to decelerate when chipping some delicate shots around the green only to sky it from where he dropped (out of the woods) into the sand bunker on the other side. On the very next hole, as if never troubled by adversity, he executes a sand bunker shot like a PGA pro to within inches of jarring it. Malloy was textbook and followed the strategy I proposed at the beginning of the round. “Hit Fairways. Hit Greens. Make Putts. Beat Dave.” Shaughnessy was Shaughnessy – Parabola graphing quadratic equations and calculating triangulations of possible putts and yet missing a few. It’s way funnier to see a guy fail after intense scrutiny than to watch a guy step up and knock one in as if by pure luck.

I was excellent as usual. 

Group shot selfie by Tom Shaughnessy - "Friends of Bobby Jones" (c) 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Scouts on Tour

Another tour is scheduled. Seven Girl Scouts and their chaperones (four moms no doubt) are ready for an activity but being together as friends is really what they are up to. From the start the laid back scouts are at home. They are on the patio of the Laumeier estate house and are ready for whatever. I heard one of the girls say that she knew one of her friends was born in 2002. (It startles me to realize 6-7th graders may have no memory of where they were when 9-11 happened). They got a tour that leads them to the Tree Tent, The Way field, Recess and more.

We ended up at Ferrara's site specific piece when one of the moms asked about the pool complex. The group gets a second wind and enjoys the triangular bridge, redwood one, reading room and Beverly Pepper's earthwork. Another group recognizes the jewel we have in our region – Laumeier Sculpture Park. The adults are reacquainted and the kids are introduced to something they may remember for years to come. (I hope so.)

“Now your homework is to write a 1,000 word paper of at least 4 pages.” I concluded with the scouts. Not missing a beat one of the girls envisions the headline of her assignment beginning with “Art is Cool.” I think they get it.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Clara Collins Coleman

The docent does what she does
The art is what it always was
The park is for us all -- and for each
It’s here and within easy reach
The docent does what he does
Now and forever -- as it was
Follow me and take a look
Each tour is unique -- not by a script or in a book
Listen to your heart and mind
There is no telling what you will find
“Art is not what you see
It is what you make others see”
Abstract Minimal Conceptual
Surreal Difficult or Accessible
It’s the gems you collect but never count
The sum of which is a substantial amount
Thank you Clara for helping us see
The joy in the little things that make us free

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pulitzer and CAM

The continuing quest for enrichment and camaraderie of our corps of docents from Laumeier Sculpture Park continues. On July 22, 2015, 15 of us are treated to a one-two punch in the Grand Center Arts District with guided tours at both Pulitzer and CAM.

The Pulitzer Arts Foundation  is a  intimate space for exploring the arts in the remarkable Tadao Ando designed building. Jennifer Baker, a curator intimately involved with the current exhibitions of Alexander Calder, Richard Tuttle and Fred Sandback serves us well as our guide. Calder’s mobiles, standing mobiles and constellations are on view and speak to the Ellswoth Kelly color field Blue Black on view as we are introduced to the Calder pieces. Already we are well rewarded for our efforts to meet here . Wire Pieces by Richard Tuttle is a multi-layered sculptural experience is stunning in its simplicity. 64 Three Part Pieces by Fred Sandbank challenges the viewer to understand mathematical possibilities of three lines of stretched yarn across adjacent gallery spaces.  

Seth is our guide at The Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) which opened its new building in the Grand Center Arts in St. Louis in 2003. We are impressed. Beginning with ACCUMULUS a site-specific installation by graduate architecture students in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Also at CAM Pre-Verbal Painting by Israeli-born, Los Angeles-based artist Liat Yossifor:  Mexican artist Pedro Reyes explores art and psychology, photography by Laurie Simmons (CPR dummies and female love dolls). Green Varnish, by New York-based Nomad Studio tells us “We live in denial within vanishing landscapes.” in the interior courtyard, a lush, growing sculpture.

Special thanks to Molly Pearson and  Victoria Donaldson at the Pulitzer and CAM respectively for making arrangements for our visit. I think it is safe to say, we’ll be back.

ACCUMULUS  (PHOTO by Barb Flunker) - designed and fabricated by students Jay Bassett, Qian Huang, Boxun Hu, Jeffrey Lee, Chun Liu, Alex Melvin, John Patangan, Joseph Vizurraga, Lingfeng Zhang, and Yue Zhang with guidance from Washington University instructors Jason Butz and Lavender Tessmer.  

This magnificent bouquet from Barb Flunker made its way to Clara Coleman and the remainder of this awesome cake from Pamela Dern's culinary artist baker friend made its way to Laumeier Sculpture Park (delivered by Maureen Jennings). Thanks to Pamela Dern, Mary Drury, Nancy L, Maureen, Barb, Ann Bauer, Mary Devine, Janette, Sheila, Mary B., Tim R., Loren, Karen Mullen and Tara, (and me --- makes fifteen). Summer Salads sponsored by Wes Morgan.  

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Call Me Maurice

Call me a space cowboy. Call me Maurice.
No dedicated follower of fashion -- shorts, flip flops, a Hurricane fleece.
And don’t call me meathead -- please.
Coach said I was a pro -- Provelone, like the cheese.
In the registration building -- where they keep the books.
Art is never as easy as it looks.                                                                

Well read and well rested,
We always knew we would be tested!
Cream cheese on a bagel lightly toasted,
“Another day another A” -- You always boasted.
Paperback books, rubber cement and wind chimes,
It was the worst and the very best of times.

Frugal, fun seekers hitch hiking to Key West.
Chopper hears about your motorcycle -- He is not impressed.
Drawing a landscape, still life bowl of fruit or full frontal breast.
Gauntlets, metaphors, ironies in jest.
The Loch Ness Monster seen or not seen,
A duck, a dog, a boat, a machine.

Busted into a Red Road rental -- broke the Madonna.
Devil Dog swims -- not a fish called Wanda.
Salvador Dali paintings in a Cleveland injection molding plant.  
Picasso, Gustav Klimt, Warhol not among those who say I can’t.  
So its Head Shoulders Knees and Toes.
Kafka-esque. Quintessentially Drimer. So it goes.

Happy Birthday Dave Drimer July 2015.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Kangaroo carton project

Materials – single serve milk carton, grocery brown paper bag, cardboard, black Sharpie marker, Elmer’s glue, scissors, tape.

Step 1 – Clean and rinse milk carton.

Step 2 – Cut brown paper shopping bag (remembering to cut a slit for the kangaroo pocket). Wrap and glue brown paper to carton wraping carton with extra room at top. Tape paper together at top. 

Step 3 – Cut legs, arms, baby kangaroo (joey) out of cardboard. (Can be made from discarded boxes often available in local grocery stores).

Step 4 – Use Sharpie pen to add features (eyes, nose and, if desired, paws) to cardboard pieces.

Step 5 – Glue face, feet and arms to carton (bend arms to give lifelike embrace look). Insert Joey in pocket. (Glue in pace if desired.) Paste brown paper to bottom of carton with brown paper tail showing in back.   

Step 6 – Allow time for glue to dry so kangaroo is secure.

NOTE: You can scale to larger size by following the same steps (substituting a square cardboard box and brown kraft paper) to create Kangaroo that is closer to life size.  

School Board Report

Name of School District: Parkway School District
Date of Meeting Attended: Wednesday August 27, 2014 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Brief Description of What was Discussed: Regular meetings of the board of education are held monthly at Parkway Central Middle School as designated in the board meeting calendar, They and are open to the public.  In addition, all meetings are streamed live on Parkway's website. (I was able to get a preview of a typical meeting but technology prevented me from sitting through more than the opening remarks of an archived video of the June meeting.) Meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. unless otherwise specified.

Public comments are welcome at each regular board meeting during the period designated for citizen statements.  To address the board, a sign-up sheet is provided between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at the entry table.  Citizens will be called to the podium by the board president to make their statement.  Those who address the board are also asked to provide a written statement.  Those who do not wish to address the board may fill out the comment sheet located at the sign-in table.

The board consists of the following seven people: Beth Feldman, President (Term Expires 2015, appointed 2008, elected 2009); Chris Jacob, VP (Term Expires 2017, elected 2008); Kim Applebaum, Director (Term expires 2016, elected 2010); Tom Applebaum, Director (Term expires 2016, elected 2010); Dee Mogerman, Director (Term expires 2017, appointed 2004, elected 2005); Deborah Hopper, Director (Term expires 2017, elected 2014); and Sam Sciortino, Ph.D., Director (Term Expires 2016, elected 2010). Also present was Superintendent Keith Marty.

This meeting I noted was, somewhat predictably, efficient. This is clearly not the forum for debate as much as a public demonstration of the civilized and orderly bureaucracy of managing a district that includes 5 high schools and somewhere in the neighborhood of 17,000 students.
The agenda, neatly printed on two sides of a single sheet of paper included housekeeping items like call to order, roll call, pledge of allegiance; special recognitions for a group of boy scouts in attendance and efforts on behalf of the American Heart Association. A long list of action items were quickly voted on, such as board approval of minutes of past meeting, unanimous votes in favor of purchases of supplies, transportation and a variety of other items that seemed essential to the ongoing business of running the various schools.

The biggest items for the evening came later in the meeting: Approval of Comprehensive Assessment Plan; A preliminary discussion of Math Program Evaluation and an SSD Public Review Committee Report. Surely these topics represent highly charged issues for which there are widely divergent views.           

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this group, it seems, is a cohesive agreement to stay on a course forged by the creation of a comprehensive strategic plan. In addition to the plan itself, Parkway appears to have done a pretty good job of elevating their brand by communicating with stakeholders in clear, concise terms. As it happens, I am familiar with the firm UPbrand that proudly assisted in helping the Parkway School District. They described the assignment as follows on their website:
Parkway School District has long been viewed as one of the top public districts in the country. As part of their on-going evolution, they embarked on an ambitious strategic planning process that led to the re-conception of the core elements and process of delivering a top-notch public education.
Having codified their new direction, it was time to generate excitement about the new approach among the community and their key constituents.

Personal Reflection on the role of the School Board:
Before attending the meeting, I was sure that I would feel like an outsider sitting in on a board meeting of the Parkway School District. Both of my children are graduate products of Parkway West High School (Classes of 2000 and 2004).
Parkway School District was my second choice for this assignment. I had hoped to attend a Special School District board meeting until I learned those meetings are scheduled on Tuesday nights in direct conflict with EDU 211 Foundation of Education with David L. Shields, Ph.D. Fortunately, the special  report on the partnership between Parkway and SSD was on the agenda that evening.
When we relocated to St. Louis at the end 1996 we, like so many others who move, were heavily influenced by the perceived quality and reputation of the public school where our kids would attend high school. It never occurred to me to get more involved than a typical parent attending periodic open houses, teacher conferences and athletic events. With this experience I am struck by the tremendous responsibility these seven school board leaders have in delivering on the Mission Statement spelled out in the well designed and crafted Strategic Plan brochure online:


More than 400 Project Parkway volunteers helped develop Parkway's mission, vision and strategic plan, which will guide our work through 2016. We have also revitalized Parkway’s brand with a new logo and tagline to better reflect our mission and vision for students.(1)

(1) Parkway Schools. Higher Expectations. Brighter Futures. A printed copy of this brochure was available at the meeting and is offered as an exhibit.
(2)  The agenda for 8/27/2014 board meeting is also provided.  

This report was prepared by Wesley A. Morgan in accordance with assignment as described in the Syllabus provided by the professor on the first night of class August 18, 2014

Philosophy of Education

Upon reflection, it strikes me that my paper on MY philosophy of education should more closely reflect some understanding of key reference points discussed in class along with subsequent independent study for EDU 211. Education is new to me as a career path but not entirely foreign as I am currently a para-educator with the Special School District in St. Louis at the Neuwoehner School (a school that proudly boasts itself as a National School of Character).

Plowing through Dewey and his Pedagogic Creed[1] I was first struck by what I found to be a sort of pomposity with the frequent use of I believe but I warmed up to his philosophy as I began to understand Dewey’s enormous influence in moving education away from being a unique privilege to a system that needs to understand and address social conditions. Schools are indeed social institutions. Furthermore, I agree with the notion that a child learns best when the teacher understands the dichotomy of psychology and social natures. Our second reading of Dewey[2] finds him a bit more reflective (if not a tad defensive) in his philosophies of education – fair enough given that his leading influence lasted sixty years or more with a great influence on leading thinkers in education today. You can understand his concerns about being misunderstood. (A situation due, I believe, in equal parts to his huge influence and his proclivity to overly explain his positions. He would have benefited from a strong editor/publicist on his team.)

George Counts seems willing to stir the pot among progressives in his remarks[3] that shape arguments that draw on what are uniquely American ideals while generously inserting a Soviet style brand of socialism. He calls for a measure of disruption of the economic order of Capitalism. While Dewey struck me as pompous, Counts seemed positively radical and Communist. As a baby boomer born of the Greatest Generation I am impressed that Counts was able to generate meaningful dialogue about the role education plays in a democracy in spite of his political leanings. My guess is he would have found a less receptive audience in the 1950s-60s.

We further studied Paulo Freier and his Pedagogy of the Oppressed[4] and it isn’t hard to see the huge impact education can have in motivating the meek and persecuted under-classes in modern societies for social reform. I am impressed by this too (but it is not this kind of world view that inspires me to be in the field of education).

Marie Monetssori[5] begins to seem more pragmatic (if at times formulaic) as our study of educational philosophies continued. Her approaches to education provide sound advice to educators to prepare an environment, be prepared as teacher/facilitator, and offer freedom to learn (with appropriate responsibility). This strikes me as abundantly wise, particularly with younger students as they begin their studies.

Nel Noddings[6] is compelling and sensitive. Her ideas of organizing education around themes of care (for self, intimate others, strangers, animals/plants/earth, human-made world, ideas) might be criticized as being feminine, stereotypically assigning education to the wheelhouse of the feminine gender. Not a fair criticism in my view. Noddings is a successful product of the system and part of a huge family. She has a justifiable position if you believe in practicing what you preach. (No surprise she is a prolific author.)

We come to this idea of The Just Community Approach[7] and almost stumble on our teacher as one of the authors of our assigned reading. Doing a Google search on Dr. Shields might have been a distraction. but perhaps not as jarring as the profound sadness of discovering news of Kohlberg’s suicide. (Okay, I admit it this piece of information came from Wikapedia but with sufficient detail to remind us all how short and precious life is. He was only 59 years old.) Since my source is Wikapedia on this factoid I am not going show it in the footnotes). I am mindful, having participated on some athletic teams in my lifetime, of how a Just Community supports a group as all the members take ownership of governance and boundaries. It works.  

I will confess that I wrote an earlier paper on My Philosophy of Education. It is more personal. It draws on my experiences as admissions counselor for the University of Miami and as para-educator for the Special School District (SSD) and my audit of a Parkway School District School Board Meeting in August (for this class). Most of the philosophers we have discussed appear to have a much grander view of education than mine. Maybe that is because they earned a bigger audience among the education community. With the remaining space I will outline my general position on education even though I can see it as a philosophical position that will likely evolve further.

I.               I have always been a fan of great books, fine art and timeless classics with a healthy interest in how art meets commerce. That makes me more a Perennialist I suppose.

II.             I see how Essentialists may feel it necessary to get ahead by preparing students for the world as we (in the U.S.) are arguably falling behind in STEM. (My least favorite subjects are Science and Math. I am baffled by Engineering. And I am not overly confident in my Math skills.) Maybe judging the advocates of Common Core and No Child Left Behind is unfair of me. But there has to be a better answer than creating a culture of Test Takers. 

III.          I tend to side with Progressivism, since I like the intention of making education available for all, not just the elite and privileged. I like the pragmatism of Montessori for early education. And I see the role of education in a democracy as real.

IV.          At the risk of sounding like one picking from a Chinese menu – I see the value of a culture of caring (Noddings) and pragmatic/systematic (Montessori) for early childhood education setting a stage for some practical learning of common core (without the burden of mandated testing) for High School culminating in a rewarding college pursuit of liberal arts with room for the exceptional STEM types to co-exist as it takes a lot of people to make the world go around.

V.            Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t emphatically support the great need we have as a society to support those human beings with special needs. We are only now beginning to realize the spectrum of Autism, the impact of ADHD, Downs, Mental Illness and a long list of medical obstacles that individuals live with every day. (And by extension, their families, and society as a whole.) The educational systems (public and private) needs to take responsibility as everyone in our society deserves a chance to live a happy, fulfilling and productive life. And each success achieved through our educational systems is a victory for humanity.  

[1] Dewey, John My Pedagogic Creed School Journal vol 54 (January 1987)
[2] Dewey, John From Experiences and Education (1938)
[3] Counts, George S. Counts Progressive Education Vol IX April Number 4 Dare Progressive Education be Progressive? (1932) 
[4] Freire, Paulo Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1972)
[5] The Early Years – Lillard, Angeline and Else Quest, Nicole - Evaluating Montessori Education – Science vol 313 2006  and Taming Montessori by Jacobson, Linda Education Week vol 26 Issue 27  (2007)
[6] Noddings, Nel Teaching Themes of Care
[7] Power, F Clark; Power, Ann Marie R; Bredemeir, Brenda Light; Shields, David Light – Democratic Education and Children’s Rights