Mimsy: Yesterday I was talking to a professor of philosophy and his daughter, who's about 13 or 14, and she said, “The stuff that you learn for tests – you learn it, and then you just vomit it out, and you never know it again.” And he turned to her and said, “I would not have said that. I would have said ‘regurgitate’.” I was waiting for him to complain, but he just suggested a more polite word!
I've often advised education students who want to know how to have a meaningful career, to “just walk away” from what they're doing. And sometimes people have done just that.
You have expressed many, many views over your many, many years, that are pretty extreme according to a lot of people. You don't think your ideas are extreme at all. According to you, they proceed very logically from the most elementary theses about life to the most radical. Have you ever been in a situation where your ideas were so extreme that people didn't want to have anything to do with you anymore?
Dan: Yes, I have had an experience like that.
I had been invited pretty regularly to give a presentation at one of the local universities to a graduate class in the philosophy of education. I think I was that professor’s “token radical”. I would come year after year and get a pretty good reception, because those people were experienced and mature. They were graduate students and had already engaged in years of classroom teaching. That day, they got very enthusiastic about what I was saying. In the question and answer period afterwards they said, “Tell us, Dr. Greenberg, what advice would you give us? We're teachers. We're all going to be administrators in the public school educational system. What advice can you give us for how to apply what you've been saying? What can you tell us?” And some devil took hold of me, and I just looked right at the class and said, “My advice is: quit! ”
I was never invited back.