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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.”  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.
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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Free Speech on Campus

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.

8:55 am edt 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Humanities, Arts, and Sciences

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.

1:45 pm edt 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Blood Demand, Supply

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.

9:53 am edt 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Teachers in Boston Public Schools, and Beyond

Travis Bristol, 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.” 

7:55 am edt 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

“My Brother’s Keeper” and Literacy

The LiteracyEveryday site includes a new blog post about President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative and boys’ reading skills.

8:58 am edt 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Domestic Violence Problems, Policy, Awareness

The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence led a Fatality Review Committee that has released a report drawing lessons from the period 2000 through 2012 – during which the state averaged 14 intimate partner violence deaths per year, with more than 80 percent of the victims women.

Perpetrators of subsequent attacks are now being prosecuted, and U.S. Senators Blumenthal and Murphy have introduced related legislation on access to firearms.

In Connecticut, expanded awareness efforts are planned for October.

The One World Progressive Institute recently posted about domestic abuse and its programming on that subject.  Those resources include a panel discussion with Tony Porter of A Call to Men, among others.  In three parts, a YouTube video of the panel contains:

* a public service announcement (PSA) and posting of information (such as the toll-free statewide domestic violence hotline, 888-774-2900);

strategies to address the problem; and

* emphasis on prevention and the importance of modeling peaceful conflict resolution from a young age.

This site has addressed domestic violence a number of times, such as in a January 2012 (January 21) post, and in an April 2010 article.  In the New Haven region, Men Who Give represents one way to get involved.

7:52 am edt 

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