ESSAY 4 – College  

 

Great Books for Serious Readers
Two educators at the University of Chicago launched the Great Books Foundation in 1947. Robert Maynard Hutchins, then chancellor of the university, and professor Mortimer Adler shared a vision of book discussion groups in which passionate readers could meet and talk about enduring issues and ideas. From  http://www.greatbooks.org/programs-for-all-ages/gb.html?PHPSESSID=5b0e1b31a0106f1c500521bbfee3dd45

 

Hutchins and Adler had the idea that it would be worthwhile for people to read classical books and discuss them together, exchanging ideas in a group.  The groups were 15 or 20 people with a leader.  The leader would ask questions (using the Socratic Method) and try to get each person in the group to see whatever the subject was in a completely different way.  The goal of the leader was also to open people to develop their own ideas to the fullest.  In other words, the Great Books leader was a facilitator of ideas within each participant and between the participants.

 

Mrs. Cockefair was pretty much in charge of all the Great Books Groups in the Kansas City area.  For some reason she got me to lead some groups.  I remember leading at least two groups at different times, but I think there were more.  The groups met once a week, so there would be a new book each month.

 

Of course the first year and all the remaining years were the same for each group, so once you had read the book as a participant, and once you had read it once or twice as a leader, you were pretty familiar with the contents of each book.  This made you more skillful as a leader.  Of the two I remember, one was a group of people who were much older than I.  My youthfulness, however did not seem to disturb the group.  The other group was made up of adolescent children – people much nearer my own age.

 

When I returned from Stanford, I was casting around for things to do. Being in the Great Books Group was of course helpful, but Bill (Cadman) came up with the idea of working with the Child Guidance Clinic.  During the 1940’s European ideas about psychoanalysis, Freudian psychology and working with children came to America.  Of course, it spread to all age groups, but the idea of emotional disturbance and helping people with problems was much more acceptable when talking about children than it was when talking about adults.  Child Guidance Clinics were far ahead of State Hospitals in understanding that people are influenced by emotions and early childhood experiences.  So the idea of volunteering at a Child Guidance Clinic sounded like  a worth while venture. 

 

Bill arranged for me to meet with Miss Pritchard, a psychologist who was the Chief Psychologist at the Kansas City Child Guidance Clinic.  They were both instructors at UKC and active in the Graduate School.  The idea of an undergraduate with some experience with projectives and with psychotherapy was a foreign concept (and probably still is).

 

But Miss Pritchard (although most likely uncomfortable with the idea) met me, and thought it could work.  However, we first had to meet with Dr. Vance Alexander, a psychiatrist and director of the Clinic.  Dr. Alexander was also a woman.  It was not unusual at that time to have women such as Dr. Alexander,  in top executive positions in social agencies because there was a many fewer men employed in such agencies.   I was told I could work (volunteer) in the clinic under the direct supervision of Miss Pritchard.  I came there sometime in  1951, and remained there about 2 ½ years, until a little before I graduated with my Master of Arts degree.

 

Being allowed to be there – to work there - was just as extraordinary if not perhaps even more so than being allowed to work at St. Joseph.  St. Joseph was less advanced in psychiatric treatment than the CGC (Child Guidance Clinic), so they were just sort of glad to have new live bodies show up to help however they could.  But the CGC was not in such a desperate circumstance.  Child Guidance Clinics were more at the leading edge of psychiatric knowledge in Missouri.

 

Miss Pritchard was “glad” that I knew about the Rorschach, but she let me know from the start that I would have to relearn everything the way she taught it at the University of Kansas City.  So, I had test after test that she reviewed and went through many corrections of my scoring of the tests until she felt I had some competence.  She had studied with Klopfler at some point, and Klopfler was THE AMERICAN AUTHORITY of the time when it came to understanding the Rorschach.

 

She was a sort of odd woman – very set in her ways.  She was not a particularly attractive lady, and she did not impress me as being of great intellect, but I recall that she was a kind person who really loved children and had the sort of empathy and skill that it took to be an excellent therapist.  

 

Miss Pritchard was just finishing her own personal analysis, a “thing” psychiatric personnel did in those days, and that may have been a help to her in her understanding of children.  From wherever her skills came, I learned a great deal about children, psychological testing, diagnosis, and emotional development from her.  From the start, my role involved being part of the diagnostic team and also involved participating in staff meetings with a status equal to the others.  I also had a caseload of patients.  I don’t remember whether I was there 1 or 2 or 3 days a week.  I think I began to spend fewer days later in my stay than I did in the earlier times, but I do not have a clear recollection.

 

The CGC was located downtown.  I think it was on the fourth floor of a building which was not too far from my parent’s office.  Whatever floor, there were other offices there, one of which was the Mental Health Organization (MHO) on the 3rd floor (I think).  One day I decided to find out what that organization was, so I visited them and talked with the woman who was the head of the group.  Her name eludes me even though she and I had a long and cordial relationship.

I found out that this group spent most of their time going to clubs, organizations, Parent-teacher Associations, and other places, educating people.  Their goal was to talk about what emotional problems were and to educate people about child rearing, and preventative and curative care.  The organization was trying to improve the conditions in institutions such as the State Hospitals, and to generally raise the level of awareness in the general population about mental health.

 

We talked for a while, and I was offered the opportunity to work with them as a volunteer by going to meetings, particularly PTA (Parent Teacher Association) meetings to talk about various aspects of child development.  A PTA education chairman might come up with a topic such as “How Do You Discipline Children” and I would be supposed to come talk for a period of time (somewhere around ½ hour).  Then there would be a series of questions and answers, and the speech would be over.  I worked with the MHO for quite a while.  Eventually I came up with an idea to combine a couple of these activities in a project that turned out to be quite interesting.  Perhaps that would be a good subject for some future essay. 

Fri

13

Nov

2015

Are Languages Products of their Environment?


shutterstock_222422665_151112


DISCOVER MAGAZINE published this very interesting article: 


  Languages Are Products of Their Environments


The characteristics that make each language unique may actually be adaptations to the acoustics of different environments.

0 Comments

Tue

03

Jun

2014

The Case for Reparations

 

The Case for Reparations

 

Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

 

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

May 21, 2014

 


Chapters

  1. I. “So That’s Just One Of My Losses”
  2. II.  “A Difference of Kind, Not Degree”
  3. III. “We Inherit Our Ample Patrimony”
  4. IV. “The Ills That Slavery Frees Us From”
  5. V. The Quiet Plunder
  6. VI. Making The Second Ghetto
  7. VII. “A Lot Of People Fell By The Way”
  8. VIII. “Negro Poverty is not White Poverty”
  9. IX. Toward A New Country
  10. X. “There Will Be No ‘Reparations’ From Germany”
0 Comments

Mon

02

Jun

2014

A Look At 19th Century Children In The USA

PHILADELPHIA — DINNER with your children in 19th-century America often required some self-control. Berry stains in your daughter’s hair? Good for her. Raccoon bites running up your boy’s arms? Bet he had an interesting day.

 

As this year’s summer vacation begins, many parents contemplate how to rein in their kids. But there was a time when Americans pushed in the opposite direction, preserved in Mark Twain’s cat-swinging scamps. Parents back then encouraged kids to get some wildness out of their system, to express the republic’s revolutionary values.

The New York Times

Sunday Review

By JON GRINSPAN MAY 31, 2014

 

A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks
A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks

American children of the 19th century had a reputation. Returning British visitors reported on American kids who showed no respect, who swore and fought, who appeared — at age 10 — “calling for liquor at the bar, or puffing a cigar in the streets,” as one wrote. There were really no children in 19th-century America, travelers often claimed, only “small stuck-up caricatures of men and women.”

 

This was not a “carefree” nation, too rough-hewed to teach proper manners; adults deliberately chose to express new values by raising “go-ahead” boys and girls. The result mixed democracy and mob rule, assertiveness and cruelty, sudden freedom and strict boundaries. Visitors noted how American fathers would brag that their disobedient children were actually “young republicans,” liberated from old hierarchies. Children were still expected to be deferential to elders, but many were trained to embody their nation’s revolutionary virtues. “The theory of the equality” was present at the ballot box, according to one sympathetic Englishman, but “rampant in the nursery.”

 

Boys, in particular, spent their childhoods in a rowdy outdoor subculture. After age 5 or so they needed little attention from their mothers, but were not big enough to help their fathers work. So until age 10 or 12 they spent much of their time playing or fighting.

 

The writer William Dean Howells recalled his ordinary, violent Ohio childhood, immersed in his loose gang of pals, rarely catching a “glimpse of life much higher than the middle of a man.” Howells’s peers were “always stoning something,” whether friends, rivals or stray dogs. They left a trail of maimed animals behind them, often hurt in sloppy attempts to domesticate wild pets.

 

And though we envision innocents playing with a hoop and a stick, many preferred “mumbletypeg” — a game where two players competed to see who could throw a knife closer to his own foot. Stabbing yourself meant a win by default.

 

Left to their own devices, boys learned an assertive style that shaped their futures. The story of every 19th-century empire builder — Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt — seems to begin with a striving 10-year-old. “Boy culture” offered training for the challenges of American manhood and a reprieve before a life of labor.

 

But these unsupervised boys also formed gangs that harassed the mentally ill, the handicapped and racial and ethnic minorities. Boys played an outsize role in the anti-Irish pogroms in 1840s Philadelphia, the brutal New York City draft riots targeting African-Americans during the Civil War and attacks on Chinese laborers in Gilded Age California. These children did not invent the bigotry rampant in white America, but their unrestrained upbringing let them enact what their parents mostly muttered.

 

Their sisters followed a different path. Girls were usually assigned more of their mothers’ tasks. An 8-year-old girl would be expected to help with the wash or other physically demanding tasks, while her brother might simply be too small, too slow or too annoying to drive the plow with his father. But despite their drudgery, 19th-century American girls still found time for tree climbing, bonfire building and waterfall-jumping antics. There were few pretty pink princesses in 19th-century America: Girls were too rowdy and too republican for that.

 

So how did we get from “democratic sucklings” to helicopter parents? Though many point to a rise of parental worrying after the 1970s, this was an incremental change in a movement that began a hundred years earlier.

 

In the last quarter of the 19th century, middle-class parents launched a self-conscious project to protect children. Urban professionals began to focus on children’s vulnerabilities. Well-to-do worriers no longer needed to raise tough dairymaids or cunning newsboys; the changing economy demanded careful managers of businesses or households, and restrained company men, capable of navigating big institutions.

 

Demographics played a role as well: By 1900 American women had half as many children as they did in 1800, and those children were twice as likely to live through infancy as they were in 1850. Ironically, as their children faced fewer dangers, parents worried more about their protection.

 

Instead of seeing boys and girls as capable, clever, knockabout scamps, many reconceived children as vulnerable, weak and naïve. Reformers introduced child labor laws, divided kids by age in school and monitored their play. Jane Addams particularly worked to fit children into the new industrial order, condemning “this stupid experiment of organizing work and failing to organize play.”

 

There was good reason to tame the boys and girls of the 19th century, if only for stray cats’ sake. But somewhere between Jane Addams and Nancy Grace, Americans lost track of their larger goal. Earlier parents raised their kids to express values their society trumpeted.

 

“Precocious” 19th-century troublemakers asserted their parents’ democratic beliefs and fit into an economy that had little use for 8-year-olds but idealized striving, self-made men. Reformers designed their Boy Scouts to meet the demands of the 20th century, teaching organization and rebalancing the relationship between play and work. Both movements agreed, in their didactic ways, that playtime shaped future citizens.

 

Does the overprotected child articulate values we are proud of in 2014? Nothing is easier than judging other peoples’ parenting, but there is a side of contemporary American culture — fearful, litigious, controlling — that we do not brag about but that we reveal in our child rearing, and that runs contrary to our self-image as an open, optimistic nation. Maybe this is why sheltering parents come in for so much easy criticism: A visit to the playground exposes traits we would rather not recognize.

 

There is, however, a saving grace that parents will notice this summer. Kids are harder to guide and shape, as William Dean Howells put it, “than grown people are apt to think.” It is as true today as it was two centuries ago: “Everywhere and always the world of boys is outside of the laws that govern grown-up communities.” Somehow, they’ll manage to go their own way.

 

________________________________

 

A National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Massachusetts Historical Society who is writing a book on the role of young people in 19th-century American democracy.

0 Comments

Mon

21

Apr

2014

Investigating Family's Wealth, China's Leader Signals a Change

From The New York Times 

By CHRISTOPHER DREW and JAD MOUAWAD

APRIL 19, 2014

 

HONG KONG — His son landed contracts to sell equipment to state oil fields and thousands of filling stations across China. His son’s mother-in-law held stakes in pipelines and natural gas pumps from Sichuan Province in the west to the southern isle of Hainan. And his sister-in-law, working from one of Beijing’s most prestigious office buildings, invested in mines, property and energy projects.

 

In thousands of pages of corporate documents describing these ventures, the name that never appears is his own: Zhou Yongkang, the formidable Chinese Communist Party leader who served as China’s top security official and the de facto boss of its oil industry.





A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China.  Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests.  Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times
A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China. Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests. Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times

But President Xi Jinping has targeted Mr. Zhou in an extraordinary corruption inquiry, a first for a Chinese party leader of Mr. Zhou’s rank, and put his family’s extensive business interests in the cross hairs.

 

Even by the cutthroat standards of Chinese politics, it is a bold maneuver. The finances of the families of senior leaders are among the deepest and most politically delicate secrets in China. The party has for years followed a tacit rule that relatives of the elite could prosper from the country’s economic opening, which rewarded loyalty and helped avert rifts in the leadership.

Zhou Family Ties

1 Comments

Fri

13

Nov

2015

Are Languages Products of their Environment?


shutterstock_222422665_151112


DISCOVER MAGAZINE published this very interesting article: 


  Languages Are Products of Their Environments


The characteristics that make each language unique may actually be adaptations to the acoustics of different environments.

0 Comments

Tue

03

Jun

2014

The Case for Reparations

 

The Case for Reparations

 

Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

 

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

May 21, 2014

 


Chapters

  1. I. “So That’s Just One Of My Losses”
  2. II.  “A Difference of Kind, Not Degree”
  3. III. “We Inherit Our Ample Patrimony”
  4. IV. “The Ills That Slavery Frees Us From”
  5. V. The Quiet Plunder
  6. VI. Making The Second Ghetto
  7. VII. “A Lot Of People Fell By The Way”
  8. VIII. “Negro Poverty is not White Poverty”
  9. IX. Toward A New Country
  10. X. “There Will Be No ‘Reparations’ From Germany”
0 Comments

Mon

02

Jun

2014

A Look At 19th Century Children In The USA

PHILADELPHIA — DINNER with your children in 19th-century America often required some self-control. Berry stains in your daughter’s hair? Good for her. Raccoon bites running up your boy’s arms? Bet he had an interesting day.

 

As this year’s summer vacation begins, many parents contemplate how to rein in their kids. But there was a time when Americans pushed in the opposite direction, preserved in Mark Twain’s cat-swinging scamps. Parents back then encouraged kids to get some wildness out of their system, to express the republic’s revolutionary values.

The New York Times

Sunday Review

By JON GRINSPAN MAY 31, 2014

 

A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks
A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks

Read More 0 Comments

Mon

21

Apr

2014

Investigating Family's Wealth, China's Leader Signals a Change

From The New York Times 

By CHRISTOPHER DREW and JAD MOUAWAD

APRIL 19, 2014

 

HONG KONG — His son landed contracts to sell equipment to state oil fields and thousands of filling stations across China. His son’s mother-in-law held stakes in pipelines and natural gas pumps from Sichuan Province in the west to the southern isle of Hainan. And his sister-in-law, working from one of Beijing’s most prestigious office buildings, invested in mines, property and energy projects.

 

In thousands of pages of corporate documents describing these ventures, the name that never appears is his own: Zhou Yongkang, the formidable Chinese Communist Party leader who served as China’s top security official and the de facto boss of its oil industry.





A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China.  Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests.  Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times
A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China. Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests. Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times

Read More 1 Comments