Category archives for Logos/Ethos

Gatsby – The Great American Novel: A Speech

  June, 2009              Besides literary excellence, it seems to me that the great American novel would have to be one that is not only placed in a recognizably American setting, with characters who reflect an American spirit, and who speak the American language. But beyond any of these elements is the necessity that the [...]

Enough is Enough

March, 2009             In his idea known as the “Golden Mean”, Aristotle pointed out that every virtue has the potential for becoming a vice if we do not practice it to an exact degree. A virtue like courage, for instance, quickly becomes a vice when we take it to an extreme. We call excessive [...]

Imus and Incivility

                              September, 2008             I have been an Imus listener since 1973. Obviously I enjoy the show’s content and style. I am rarely shocked or otherwise put off by his opinions and/or delivery. That is not to say that I have agreed with his opinions or that I think civil discourse ought to be [...]

You Can’t Handle the Truth!

July, 2008             There is a painter in Maine by the name of Robert Shetterly and he has created a powerful series of portraits called “Americans Who Tell the Truth”. Americans as diverse as Dwight Eisenhower and Emma Goldman are captured in dramatic chiaroscuro effect with a quotation of theirs painted in thin characters. [...]

Speech to Simmons College Alumnae

 October, 2007 Thank you very much for inviting me to speak with you today.  For over a century Simmons College has played a major role educating women as independent, equal and empowered citizens.  You have every right to be proud alumnae and I am honored to speak with you here today. I’d like to share [...]

Lyceum Rekindles Civil Democracy

  July, 2007   Many people lately have recognized the irony of America’s  attempt to export democracy while it seems to be seriously threatened here at  home. While the source of our concern can easily be traced to the current  administration and its policies, perhaps we should also look to ourselves and  our increasing indifference [...]

Education and Democracy

August, 2006             School starts this week, but for the first time in forty years I won’t be there.  I’m just beginning a new life as a retired teacher but I can tell already that I’m not going to be able to leave public education behind.  It is too important in my life and [...]

Two Boston Globe Letters

Civic illiteracy: The days of the living dead / Boston Globe October 8, 2006 JEFF JACOBY has used the results of a survey of college freshmen and seniors to conclude that America’s youth suffer from civic illiteracy (“Dumbing down democracy,” op-ed, Oct. 1). Not surprisingly, he rounds up the usual suspects, liberal college professors and [...]

Plain Old Teaching

    July, 2005        As I prepare for my fortieth and final year as a classroom teacher, I can’t help but reflect on Thomas Sowell’s recent column, “What happened to plain old teaching?”  I have seen educational trends and national mandates come and go.  But because we care about our children and their lives we [...]

       Several years after my retirement from full-time teaching, I decided to join that most ridiculed of all American professions. I became a substitute teacher. It didn’t take me long to discover that there are no educational expectations associated with this position. Since the absent teacher was responsible for the lesson plan (and that [...]

Educate for Democracy First, Jobs Second

Nov. 2018 It doesn’t matter which side of the political divide we’re on, we can all agree we’re in an era of extreme political and social tribalism. We’re living in an age of hyper-partisanship and democracy is being tested. The foundation of democracy is faith, not in a god, but in human nature. Democracy rises [...]

Is the notion of American values a delusion?

January, 2019 I’ve been focusing my reading lately on the issue of American character and trying to understand why our people seem so divided. Political candidates make much of “restoring fundamental American values”, but what exactly are they? Do Mainers, Alabamans, and Oregonians actually value the same things?             Colin Woodard, author of American Nations, [...]

The 4th of July: The Enlightenment gives birth to a new nation

July 3, 2019 The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence begins with the most consequential single sentence in American history and perhaps in all the world’s democracies.  (begin ITAL) We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that [...]