Read Robertson_Connections.pdf text version

Springfield College HUMANICS LECTURES "CONNECTIONS" James B. Robertson Distinguished Springfield Professor of Humanics September 2, 1988 INTRODUCTION Given by Paul U. Congdon, Fourteenth Distinguished Springfield Professor of Humanics I am privileged to introduce our newest distinguished Springfield Professor of Humanics, James B. Robertson. He is a member of the Springfield College Class of 1966, a pretty good class. It boasted such members as Gail Blaisdell, Larry Buell, Bill Cadoo, Gail Clayton, Jim Close, Kathy Corrigan, Doug Coupe, Carmen DeFrates, Dick DeFay, Leon Drury, Sarah Eddy, Tracy Gibbons, Sue Pavlovich, Joe Robitaille, Lynn Russell, Sue Rohde, Bill Scanlon, Reed Schultz, Scott Taylor, Jim Turbyne, Susan Umstead, Hal Vasvari, Jeff Venell, Judy Vargian, Dick Whiting, Gary Wilcox, and himself, Jim Robertson. Those remembered off the top of my head provided a pretty stimulating human part of the environment for each other during undergraduate years at Springfield. Of that impressive group, the College won back one, Lynn Russell, as a Corporator, and three, Dick Whiting, Scott Taylor, and Jim Robertson in the Administration and Faculty. Jim returned in 1973 after seven years of distinguishing himself as an elementary teacher of physical education in the West Hartford schools. After his return in 1973, Jim was established very early as an outstanding contributor to the work of his department at Springfield College, and it wasn't long before his role in the work of the whole college was recognized as well. The latter is illustrated not only by his membership on critical all-college committees, but by his performance of the detailed work of those committees. Jim Robertson's professional competence and dedication has been illustrated in evaluations by Darlene Kelly, Paul Lepley, and Nick Moutis--three H.P.E. and R. administrators to whom he has reported. Also, he has served as a professional consultant, has been highly commended by parents of children in a soccer program he ran, and by those in attendance at professional meetings where he has made presentations. This acclaim, it seems to me, arises out of Jim's adherence to principles of his profession which foster healthy growth and development. Jim's segment of the education profession does not have a corner on these principles, but there are especial pressures in his part of the education profession to distort those principles. Jim is among those who have resisted those pressures. You can read a partial review of the principles for which James Robertson, Distinguished Springfield Professor of Humanics, stands in the recently distributed bulletin called Springfield, Summer 1988. This review is most gratifying to me, as its salient points are so consistent with those emphasized in ED 211, or whatever the undergraduate foundations course was called in those days when Jim was a student. Of course, it should be readily admitted, with regard to Jim Robertson, as all professors should admit about students who later distinguish themselves, that he may have come to the very first session of that class with the important principles already in place in his thinking and in his instincts. James Robertson is the fourth Distinguished Springfield Professor of Humanics to have been chosen from the general field of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation having been preceded by Charles Silvia, Jesse Parks, and Ted Dunn. He is the 15th Distinguished Springfield Professor of Humanics overall. He is the very first chosen from, specifically, elementary physical education. This specificity of professional assignment, however, could never be prescriptive enough to inhibit broad applications to the improvement of the human condition as we will discover as we hear from our current Distinguished Springfield Professor of Humanics, Professor James B. Robertson. HUMANICS LECTURE

"CONNECTIONS" Earlier this summer Ann Richards, keynote speaker at the Democratic Convention in Atlanta, was asked if she was prepared to give such an important speech. She quickly indicated to the reporter who asked the question that certainly she was prepared, she had been preparing for this speech for over 30 years! I understand what she meant because I feel that for my lecture to you today, I have been in preparation for over 40 years. I know this is true because as I began to gather information I happened to come across a report card done by Miss Knelbler, my kindergarten teacher at North School in Collingswood, New Jersey. On November 16, 1949 she wrote the following: Jimmy has made a nice adjustment to Kindergarten and has quite easily conformed to necessary routine. He is enthusiastic and interested in his classmates and the activities. He responds well to directions and signals. He is very cooperative and is forming good work habits. (Now for the clincher!!!) He speaks freely both to individuals and before the group. (!) Well, as in 1949 I intend to speak freely before this group and I am hopeful that the comments I make will help you to better understand what it is that we, at Springfield College, are all about. INTRODUCTIONS Before embarking upon my formal presentation I would like to take a few moments to recognize former Humanics Professors and Special Guests: Humanics Professors: Paul Congdon (1986-87) Herb Zettl (1985-86) Ed Sims (1981-82) Henry Paar (1980-81) Special Guests: Yasuaki Nozaki (Kyoto, Japan) My wife, Sandy, and son, Andrew Also, I would appreciate it if you would share a moment of silence with me to honor the memory of Dr. Seth Arsenian, first Distinguished Springfield Professor of Humanics, who passed away earlier this summer. . . . .Thank you. INITIAL COMMENTS Several years ago our Commencement speaker was Mary Alice Kellogg. Over the years I have difficulty remembering what various speakers have had to say, but I remember the beginning of her speech very vividly. She began by telling the graduates that she could give her speech in five minutes and that it would be very much like other speeches given throughout the country on that same day. She also indicated that it would be greeted with polite applause and that she could then sit down and watch the degrees being awarded! In her "tongue in cheek" speech she told the graduates how hard they had worked, what they would be faced with in the future, and what they really needed to know in order to get by in the "real world." It is tempting for me to give a similar "short speech" so you would have some "food for thought" and then get to the "food for the body!" But I haven't waited forty years to be denied the opportunity to share with you my insights into the philosophy we call Humanics. However, if I was to give such a talk, I would ask you to remember two key points: ONE. . . .that the essence of Humanics is the commitment of educating the "total" person in service to others. (Zettl, 1986)

TWO. . . that Humanics is nothing but the release of the power of the person by another person. . . it is relationships with people geared toward the release of their potential. (Paar, 1981) (My thanks and credit to Professors Zettl and Paar for these quotes from their Humanics speeches.) For me these two ideas form the basis for what I believe Humanics is. They have been part of the College since its earliest years and will, I believe, continue to be part of the College in the years to come despite any changes which may occur in the way the institution is structured. CONNECTIONS Upon accepting the Humanics Professorship, I reflected upon the many possible topics and/or themes I could develop. As I prepared my talk, it became clear to me that the title I should select should be "CONNECTIONS." I chose this title because I am very interested in history and I have thoroughly enjoyed the alternate view of world history given by James Burke in his book entitled CONNECTIONS and in the subsequent PBS television series of the same name. Also, I selected the title because I find that I have a personal connection to Springfield College that spans my lifetime. Therefore, it is my intent to share with you some of the personal events which have connected me to Springfield College, to indicate those qualities I believe need to be present in order for Humanics to continue to be central to the mission of this institution, and to ask for your help in completing a task I have set for myself in the coming year as Humanics Professor. Since its earliest days, Springfield College (initially the YMCA Training School) has placed an emphasis upon the "total" development of the individual. The words spirit, mind and body are most often used. In my work with children in the area of Elementary Physical Education I have seen the importance of this concept yet much of education fragments the child's learning and neglects this needed balance. The need for providing a balanced education that includes a physically active lifestyle remains as important today as it was years ago. Many would say it is even more important today. The styles, colors, functions and prices (!) of sneakers have changed, but the key point of getting people to move their bodies has not. In 1891 James Naismith was given the assignment by Luther Gulick, director of the physical department, to "devise an indoor game suitable for men of sedentary habits." (Hall, 1964, pg. 65) Basketball was invented and has been played throughout the world by millions of men, women and children. My reason for mentioning this is because it forms my first connection to Springfield College. No, I wasn't there in 1891, but two years later my Grandfather was a member of the first basketball team in the City of Camden, New Jersey. Throughout his lifetime sports and a physically active lifestyle played a role in his development. I am certain that the lessons he learned from the Springfield College trained coach helped influence his son (my father) and his grandson (me). Earlier, I mentioned forty years of preparation for my task today. Throughout my life beginning in elementary school and continuing today in my work and personal life Springfield College teachers have had a profound influence upon me. I would like to outline for you how these connections have taken place: ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Just last week I received a call from Bill Diemer, Class of 1922 (who recently celebrated his 92nd birthday). He called to congratulate me on being selected as the Humanics Professor. Mr. Diemer was my elementary school physical education teacher. Several memories remain with me concerning his influence upon my life. First, I remember how he would walk the mile and a half to school each day and would ask me to join him as he passed by my house. At 92 he still is physically active and keen of mind. Secondly, I remember him asking me in 5th and 6th grades to maintain a bulletin board in the school hallway listing the results of various sports events in the community. Finally, I remember him writing a letter of recommendation for me to Springfield College when I was a senior in high school.

JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL: A 1951 graduate of Springfield College, Bob Hughes, was my physical education teacher and basketball coach in junior high school. Not only did he consistently show concern for me in class, but he took a personal interest in me out of class by employing me to work in the recreation program as an instructor and later in senior high school as a program supervisor. The self esteem and work ethic he helped instill in me have served me well throughout my life. SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL: When in senior high school it was evident that my teammates were continuing to grow taller while my growth rate stalled, it was time for me to consider a different sport than basketball. Fortunately, Sam Cousen, Class of 1953 and Olympic wrestler, was my teacher and was looking for a person to wrestle in the 98 pound weight class. Once again a Springfield College graduate was at my side to serve as a mentor. He helped me to strive for excellence when I felt I was incapable of meeting the demands placed upon me. The self confidence he developed in me has transferred to the many tasks I have undertaken since graduation from high school. COLLEGE: As a result of the influence of these three individuals there was only one school I wanted to attend upon graduation from high school. Springfield College was the only school to receive my application and I have never had regrets for this decision. The many men and women, many of whom are in this room today, have influenced my life in significant ways. To better understand the Springfield College I entered in 1962 I would like to list some facts: 1. The overwhelming enrollment was in the Division of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. It was assumed that everyone on campus belonged to one of these departments even though this was not the case. 2. There were far more men enrolled than women and there were separate Men's and Women's Physical Education Departments. Keep in mind that the decision to admit women to Springfield College was made in 1950. Also, female students living in the dorms had to follow a strict curfew. 3. Alcohol consumption was forbidden and smoking was highly regulated. 4. The tradition of greeting everyone on campus with a friendly 'hello' was encouraged and at times enforced! I list these facts because they help to illustrate in a small way how the institution is different in 1988 than it was in 1962. Also, it is important to remember that the Springfield College of 1962 was much different than it was in 1920. YET THE CONNECTION TO HUMANICS CONTINUES.... POST GRADUATE: In graduate school and as I began my professional career as an elementary school physical education teacher, my wife, Sandy, and I had the good fortune to live with Coach Leslie Judd, Class of 1920 who was born in Australia in 1888 and was coach of the gymnastics team for over 30 years. The hours spent with him recounting his years at Springfield College as a student and later as a teacher were many. He provided me with a valuable connection to Springfield's past. Furthermore, he provided another living example of how Humanics should be practiced. IMPLICATIONS As I read the newspaper, listen to and watch the news, talk with friends and colleagues, I become convinced that what we profess at Springfield College is as relevant today as it was at the turn of the century. ITEM....ln May a woman entered an elementary school in Winnetka, IL and began shooting at children indiscriminately, killing one child. ITEM....A drunk driver in Kentucky rammed into a school bus filled with youngsters returning from a school trip, killing several and injuring many others. ITEM....The wars between the Arabs, the Arabs and Jews, the Blacks and Whites in South Africa, the Northern Irish, the Contras and Sandanistas continue.

ITEM....A child in Philadelphia is killed in the crossfire of drug dealers. ITEM....I watch as people on the Morton Downey Show vent their anger and hatred for each other. Although these seem to be ordinary incidents, I find it hard to accept that this is "the way it is." At times we seem to be immune or indifferent to such events because they don't touch our lives personally. As I was reading a term paper this Spring I came across a poem which the student included in her paper. It helped me to put into perspective just how important it is for us as teachers to avoid being insensitive to lessons from the past. I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no man should witness. Gas chambers built by learned engineers Children poisoned by educated physicians Infants killed by trained nurses Women and babies shot and burned by high school and college graduates. So I am suspicious of education. My request is: Help your students become human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, educated Elchmans. Reading, writing, arithmetic are important only if t they serve to make our children more human. (Ginott, 1972, p. 245) Too often we forget the lessons from the past because we are too focused upon the future. Peter Davis (1988) in an article entitled "Where are We Going" speaks to this point when he says: In the U.S. change is a given, accepted even when it is unacceptable. New products, fashions, planned obsolescence are the fuel that drive the economy. (Change) becomes a psychological necessity in America. Our demand that each day be the first day of the rest of our lives has made (Americans) far more interested in the future than the past.... It's time we turn again to the spirit of community service, not because of altruism, but because of our own enlightened self-interest. (pp . 120-122) One of my favorite humorists is Garrison Keillor, who for a number of years cronicled the lives of the folks in Lake Wobegon, MN on the radio show "Prairie Home Companion." Recently, he wrote an urban fable entitled "Everything's Up-To-Date in South Roxy" (1988). The part I want to share with you involves a yuppie couple, Nancy and Bob, and their two children, Sue (age 14) and Randy (age 15). "I hate you," Sue Niles told her parents one evening at the dinner table. "I absolutely hate both of you, you're the most boring and awful and disgusting people I ever saw. You think you're cool, but you're not, you're ridiculous." Randy looked up from his plate. "She's right, you know, you are," he said. Nancy smiled at both of them and set down her fork. "Bob and I have something we want to share with you," she said softly. "It's taken us a long time to face up to this, but you two are just not the right children for us. It's not your fault any more than it is our's. Please try to understand. You're a constant source of aggravation--the mess, the endless clutter and noise and confusion and hostility. It makes for a stifling atmosphere for mine and Bob's relationship. We're all the time being parents, we don't have time to grow. I choose not to accept that." Bob took Nancy's hand. "I don't know if our marriage can survive your adolescence," he said. "We've come to a decision. We have to do what's best for us. We're going to sell you."

The story continues....and in the end when the parents are down on their luck, the children adopt the parents. I laughed at the story, but several days later I saw on the evening news where a young couple in Philadelphia were arrested for attempting to sell their newborn child for $30,000 on the "open market." I believe that over the years the number of individuals from Springfield College who are committed to Humanics has approached a "critical mass." I am hopeful that a breakthrough may be made to help prevent the incidents I have just mentioned from being so common and easily accepted and that the men and women from Springfield College will be intimately involved. It is possible! To illustrate what I mean, the following story concerning observations by a group of scientists studying behavior of a breed of monkeys on several Japanese islands should be helpful: ...The Japanese monkey, Macaca Fuscata, has been observed in the wild for more than 30 years. In 1952, on the island of Koshima scientists were providing monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in the sand. The monkeys liked the taste of the raw potato, but they found the taste of the dirt unpleasant. An 18-month old female named Imo found she could solve the problem by washing the potatoes in a nearby stream...She taught this trick to her mother. Her playmates also learned this new way and they taught their mothers, too. This cultural innovation was gradually picked up by various monkeys before the eyes of the scientists... Between 1952 and 1958 all the young monkeys learned to wash the sandy sweet potatoes to make them more palatable. Only the adults who imitated their children learned this social improvement. Other adults kept eating the dirty sweet potatoes. Then something startling took place. In the autumn of 1958, a certain number of Koshima monkeys were washing sweet potatoes--the exact number is not known. Let us suppose that when the sun rose one morning there were 99 monkeys on Koshima Island who had learned to wash their sweet potatoes. Let's further suppose that later that morning, the hundredth monkey learned to wash potatoes. THEN IT HAPPENED! By that evening almost everyone in the tribe was washing sweet potatoes before eating them. The added energy of this hundredth monkey somehow created an ideological breakthrough! But the most surprising thing observed by these scientists was that the habit of washing sweet potatoes then spontaneously jumped over the sea. Colonies of monkeys at Takasakiyama began washing their sweet potatoes! Thus, when a certain critical number achieves an awareness, this new awareness may be communicated from mind to mind. Although the exact number may vary, this Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon means that when only a limited number of people know of a new way, it may remain the conscious property of only those few. But there is a point at which if only one more person tunes in to a new awareness, a field is strengthened so that this new awareness reaches almost everyone. (Keyes, 1982, pp. 11-17).

Although we may not in this society have yet reached the point where the Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon will take place making people "Humanic like," but we, at Springfield are contributing in a positive way to making the world a better place in which to live just by the fact that we are called upon to place Humanics in the center of the educational process. We are washing the sweet potatoes!!! THE ULTIMATE HUMANIC What are the characteristics of individuals who might aspire to being "Humanics?" In his book, The Ultimate Athlete, George Leonard (1974) gives a list of criteria which are applied to the realm of sport, but which I feel apply very well to the qualities desirable in Humanics. His criteria for "The Ultimate Athlete" are: -one who joins body, mind and spirit in the dance of existence -one who explores both inner and outer being -one who surpasses limitations and crosses boundaries in the process of personal and social transformation -one who plays the larger game....with full awareness, aware of life and death and willing to accept pain and joy that awareness brings -one serves as model and guide on our evolutionary journey. (p. 256) As with Leonard, I do not offer the name of any one individual as the Ultimate Humanic because to do so would eliminate to potential for each of us to become that the "Ultimate Humanic." The people I have included as having influenced me in the past and many of you in this room today have served as models and guides in my personal journey of becoming the very best I can be. For this, I give them and you my heartfelt thanks. Last Spring I had the privilege of giving an eulogy at the memorial service for Coach Judd. As indicated earlier in my speech, his influence upon my life was significant. In my comments at the service I outlined five "gifts" which Coach gave to me. These gifts are qualities which I would hope each of you would seriously consider passing on to our students. -A sense of History. Let us not forget where we have come from and what it has taken us to get where we are. -A sense of Humor. If we take ourself too seriously, others may not take us seriously at all. -A sense of Hope. Helping our students strive to be better than they actually believe they are is important. -A sense of Health. Living a full life means that one maintains a balance between spirit, mind and body. -A sense of Humanics. Knowing that being "other-centered" is more important than being "self-centered." Each of these qualities is within our reach and are worthy of pursuit. Coach Judd helped me to understand the value of each and I am hopeful that you too come to realize their importance and share them with your students. REQUEST My major responsibility as "Professor of Humanics," i.e. the presentation of this lecture is about to come to an end. It would be easy for me to now sit down and let the rest of the school year proceed without taking any further responsibility. However, I would like to make a request of you to help make our understanding of Humanics more complete. Throughout this presentation I have spoken of Connections. Now, I would request of you the following: Please take time in the weeks to come to reflect upon those persons who are connected to Springfield College who may have had an influence upon your life. These may be former teachers or students, current colleagues or students, or others connected to Springfield College. After reflection, would you please submit to me a brief description of the contact you have had that has been of significance. I intend to share these anecdotes with you throughout the year and include them as an appendix to my presentation today. Too often we forget the tremendous influence that others have had in our lives; and too often we forget the little acts of kindness that others have shown to us. By making this request, I want us to remember the past so that we will be even more strongly committed in the future to that which we call Humanics. EPILOGUE

Last week, on vacation, I played a game of beach tennis with my son, Andrew (age 14). In past years the competition between us in the game was not particularly balanced. It took little effort on my part to win, so I would ease off. But this year he won the first game which made me want to try harder in the second. As a result, I won the game. We both wanted to play a third and deciding game. At the conclusion of the game Andrew won 21-20. Although the outcome was important to each of us, what was even more important to me was the mutual degree of respect we displayed and following the rules of the game that we had established. There was no cheating and there were often words of encouragement and praise for good shots by each of us. At the end of the match, Andrew extended his hand to me and said, "Nice game, Dad." How proud I was of him at that moment. It was as if all the lessons I wanted to get across to him in past years concerning fair play and concern for others had finally come into focus. What a good feeling I had. I am sure as he continues through adolescence and adulthood there will be many joys and heartaches he and I will experience. Yet, it is comforting to me to know that he possesses many of the qualities which I believe are part of the thing we call "Humanics." It is as if another connection has been made!!! As we go from here today, I challenge you to use the power of Humanics to affect the lives of others. We may be from different disciplines, but we are all bound by a common bond that has developed over the past century. We cannot and we should not forget our connection to the rich heritage we have. REFERENCES Congdon, Paul U., Editor (1984). TRYING TO DO HUMANICS. Springfield College, Springfield, MA. Congdon, Paul U., Editor (1986). HUMANICS AT THE CENTENNIAL: STILL TRYING. Springfield College, Springfield, MA. Congdon, Paul U., Editor (1978). HUMANICS: INSIDE OUT IN WRITING. Springfield College, Springfield, MA. Congdon, Paul U. (1987). Humanics Lecture, WHAT IT REALLY IS. Springfield College, Springfield, MA. Davis, Peter (1988). "Where Are We Going?" ESQUIRE, June issue, Volume 109, Number 6. New York, NY. Ginott, Haim (1972). TEACHER AND CHILD. New York: Avon Books. Hall, Lawrence K. (1964). DOGGETT OF SPRINGFIELD. Springfield College, Springfield, MA. Keillor, K. (1982). THE HUNDREDTH MONKEY. Coos Bay, OR: Vision Books. Leonard, George. (1974). THE ULTIMATE ATHLETE. New York: The Viking Press. Paar, Henry J. (1981). HUMANICS LECTURE: The Power of the Person: On the Nothing Butness of Humanics. Springfield College, Springfield, MA. Zettl, Herb. (1986). HUMANICS LECTURE: Education With A Moral Dimension. Springfield College, Springfield, MA.


8 pages

Report File (DMCA)

Our content is added by our users. We aim to remove reported files within 1 working day. Please use this link to notify us:

Report this file as copyright or inappropriate


You might also be interested in