- Listen to Ron's Interview with Roberta Israeloff and George McDermott -
Today’s episode is the final chapter of a 3-part conversation that I began earlier this summer, focusing on of a terrific book, What Went Right: Lessons from Both Sides of the Teacher’s Desk, by co-authors Roberta Israeloff and George McDermott. Roberta was one of my classmates at Syosset High School on Long Island in the late 1960s and has remained a long-time friend. George was our 11th Grade American Lit teacher at Syosset. Roberta, a career writer and author, is currently the Director of the nonprofit Squire Family Foundation, dedicated to encouraging the teaching of philosophy at pre-college levels. And George, a writer and poet, has had several teaching jobs , as well as extensive editorial experience in several business and media fields over several decades.
In my last conversation with Roberta and George in July, we elaborated on some of their recollections and perspectives during their earlier teaching experiences, which were detailed in their book. We went on to focus on what’s changed (or not) in public education, society and in their own lives, inside and outside the classroom.
In today’s show, we’ll continue our discussion of significant shifts and trends in public education that George and Roberta have observed—some of which have spurred considerable debate, such as the application of more corporate approaches to education…and questions about how much education should be linked to the training of students more specifically for future jobs. We’ll take a longer look at the true meaning of lifelong learning. And finally, I’ll ask Roberta and George to offer some parting takeaways from their collaborative exploration of education over their lifetimes, what they discovered about themselves in the process, and how we can all continue this conversation that ultimately teaches us to be human.
Roberta Israeloff has directed the Squire Family Foundation since its inception in 2007. The Foundation advocates for the inclusion of philosophy in elementary and secondary schools, and co-founded both PLATO and the National High School Ethics Bowl. She co-edited Philosophy and Education: Introducing Philosophy to Young People, and is on the editorial board of Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice. In her 35-year writing career, she has published numerous essays, short stories, book reviews, and books including, mostly recently, The Ethics Bowl Way: Answering Questions, Questioning Answers, and Creating Ethical Communities, co-edited with Karen Mizell.
George McDermott is a Philadelphia poet who lives in Florida (that’s not impossible, not even particularly uncommon). He’s also been an English teacher, a speechwriter, and a screenwriter (those are not mutually exclusive, not even especially different). His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Painted Bride Quarterly, Toho Journal, Passengers Journal, The Fourth River, Notre Dame Review, Coastal Shelf, and MacQueen’s Quinterly, as well as in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and his first collection—Pictures, Some of Them Moving—was published by Moonstone Press in 2018. He is also co-author—with Roberta Israeloff, who was a student in one of his high school English classes—of the nonfiction book What Went Right (Rowman & Littlefield 2017), a conversation about the successes and missteps of public education in the United States.