Youth

Eat the Fire: Paul Goodman is 100

One hundred years ago Friday—September 9, 1911—a boy was born in upper Manhattan, the “Sugar Hill” area between Washington Heights and Harlem, into a family freshly torn apart.

Good Sixties/Bad Sixties? (part 2)

Paul Goodman died in 1972, after roughly a dozen years as a widely-read and celebrated author. For this reason, he is largely remembered as a sixties figure, even though much of his important writing was published in the forties and fifties. Goodman's salad days as a public intellectual came in the early part of the sixties. Goodman became one of those figures, like Michael Harrington, C. Wright Mills, Rachel Carson, and Martin Luther King Jr., who at this pivotal moment in U.S. history transmitted into the culture ideas that helped bring about dramatic change.

Good Sixties/Bad Sixties? (part 1)

Toward the end of PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE comes a poignant and revealing clip from a Canadian television program circa 1969. Goodman, whose writings made him closely identified with the youth movement of the sixties, is having a dialogue with a group of young people who don't seem to understand or sympathize with him much at all. One accuses him of being alienated and confused.

Where do the children play?

There's a moment midway through PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE that really struck home for me. We see a series of photographs of him as a teenager, as a young man, with a striking, unusually beaming grin.

They’re Unteachable, Thank God

One of the virtues of the documentary PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE is that it offers an answer to the question, how do you make a movie about an intellectual that isn't boring? Or even better, one that's neither boring nor shallow?

A Man in Full

What a breathtaking range of 20th-century experience is embodied in the life and writing of Paul Goodman. The upcoming biopic PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE provides a splendid introduction to Goodman for we 21st-century folk who can learn so much from his example. The film admirably captures the astonishing diversity of fields on which he had an impact—poetry, psychology, politics, planning, education, and the theory and practice of queer sexuality.

The Error of Their Ideas

Diane Ravitch's change of heart is reason to take heart. A prestigious policy voice in education, she served in the Poppy Bush administration and for many years was a top supporter of the whole right-wing vision of school reform—charter schools, free markets, demanding "accountability" from teachers and principals, No Child Left Behind, and testing, testing, one, two, three. Now she's done a nearly-complete turnaround. She deliberately chose the title of her newest book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, to sound like Jane Jacobs.

excitement and growth, absurd

I've written several posts recently about the psychological theory that Paul Goodman spelled out in his contribution to the 1951 book Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality. In my view, it is an admirable and thought-provoking attempt to synthesize the essential insights of Freud and Wilhelm Reich with the assumptions of philosophical pragmatism and express all that in un-jargony language applicable to empirical experience.

Education and The System

I confess, one subset of the national political discourse I have largely tuned out lately is the education debate. I find it kind of inane and depressing. Apparently some mainstream media people are speculating that education could be one area where the incoming Congress might be able to work constructively—that is, if the GOP is willing to allow anything to pass in the next two years. Hurry up and wait.

As far as I can see, the intervention of the politicians in education mostly makes things worse. It's all about standards and tests to them.

funschooling

My 8-year-old daughter has begun her fall session of classes. Her curriculum includes the following: Mask Improvisation and Theatre Production; Backyard Astronomy; Crochet Circle; Movement, Music and Math; Art in the Woods; a series of tours of local institutions (the water treatment plant, the bus depot, a chocolatier, etc.); an American history class taught through historical fiction (with girl heroines); another class called Strong Female Characters Book Club; and Dragon Book Club.

Needless to say, we are homeschoolers; unschoolers; funschoolers.