I came here because the department I was in at M.I.T. was sinking further
and further into despair. People were just fighting.
Not believing in what they were doing. No one having anything to do with anyone else.
M.I.T. in general needed to be loosened up. But my own teaching,
my own experiments in open and non-directive structures,
needed to be tightened up. This confused me.
It was time to come to a place where teachers were invested. But I had
taught at Franconia College for its first
two years and I knew enough to be scared of what went with heavy personal investment in new, experimental colleges.
But I figured I was older and wiser. The world was older and wiser. Mervyn Cadwallader looked older and wiser.
So I said What the hell, I'll give it a try.
And besides, I just got married and I figured that might help me survive transplanting trauma. I'm happy to be here. I'm optimistic. t think I like the horror stories of last year best of all.
My own education was very straight. Perhaps that's where some of my own innterest in experimental education comes from. All my training is in the field of English literature. After a term and a half of graduate school, I quit in despair and with addled brains. I tried to get a job teaching kindergarten -- to play --but no one but M.I.T. would hire me. Discovered to my relief that teaching was more fun than studying --graduate school anyway. Then Franconia and all the intensity of starting an experimental college. Then, because Franconia was falling apart and because I wanted to make a dent on education and felt I couldn't do it without playing it straight, I went back to graduate school and finished my PhD.
Tried to do a thesis in metaphor as thought, language, reality, and the universe. But it got out of hand and I did one on Chaucer. Covertly it was a study of contradiction. I taught back at M.I.T. for four more years. Wanting not too much investment in an institution so I could write things about teaching and learning. Wanting to try to be accepted as a professional in the profession. And so I did that to some extent. And finally said Why not? and here I am.
I've grown very interested in writing recently. I've worked out a theory of the writing process from the point of view of someone who finds it agonizing to write. I've written a book called Writing Without Teachers which Oxford University Press is bringing out this winter. I'm very proud of it.
I continue to be interested in language, thinking, learning --especially the difference between knowing something from the neck up and really knowing it so it affects your perception and behavior. And interested in what I think is the key to language, thinking, and real learning: metaphor.
During the earlier years of the Vietnam war I got a 1-A classification from my draft board and discovered to my surprise that I wasn't willing to go and seemed to be a Conscientious Objector. I wasn't put to the test. It turns out I was too old to be drafted. But since then I've always been interested in prison, conscientious objection, and techniques of non-violent resistance.
My wife Cami and I are in the process of buying a little house. Neither
of us h'as ever done something like this before. We're discovering the
secret of why capitalism does so well: it's fun.