The World’s Best Philosophers and Other Mundane Items

I constantly tell my friends and readers, of which I have 432,000 responders, that my favorite quotes come from four or five sources.  These are:

Benjamin Franklin

Mark Twain

The Bible

Abraham Lincoln

and,      Shakespeare (although I use him a little more sparingly), I also like Mahatma Ghandi.

French philosopher Piaget stated that Ghandi and Christ were the only people to make it to seven on a scale where 7 is the highest you could get, and two or three was where most of the rest of us were situated.  So I make it a point to listen closely to the sermon given every Sunday and I read up on Hindu philosophy.

People like me, need to look up the philosophies of the greats in order to gain a sense of what is possible.  I was a little boy when John F. Kennedy was killed, but I do remember right where I was when I heard the news and I cried for years.  He would have handled our current malaise with wit and humor.  But, instead people make what I believe are mistaken comparisons between his time in office and Trump’s treatment of women.  At no time did Kennedy get caught in delicato.  If he did have affairs, they were not measurable to the degree that Trump has been openly accused of, not in the least.

   Shakespeare said, after a satisfying dinner, “I praise God for you Sir; your reasons at dinner have been sharp and sententious;  pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, audacious without impudency, learned without opinion, and strange without heresy,”  He apparently had dinner with the perfect dining companion.  Either way, he seemed deeply appreciative of his new friend’s mannerisms.  Would that we all could have such a dining companion.  Equally, would that we could have William Shakespeare to pass judgement.  

Lord Chesterfield wrote to his son, in some of the most quoted letters from parent to child, …”that the English crust of awkward bashfulness, shyness, and roughness…is pretty well rubbed off (as in it no longer is a problem).   I am most heartily glad of it; for, as I have often told you, …those lesser talents, of an engaging, insinuating manner, an easy good breeding, a genteel behaviour and address, are of infinitely more advantage than they are generally thought to be, especially here in England.”  Determination and my father is the gist of this article.

I have recently had an opportunity to go through my late father’s papers.  The more I read, the closer I get to education, as in the profession, the more I admire his tenacity.  I always knew that he thought he was right, but looking through these many reports and books,  he had reason to be proud of his Superintendency’s.  At a time, such as now, when we have many people working in the Head Office, he kept his staff in Lowell down to seven people, four of them Secretaries and Clerks.  He came to Lowell determined to not put the elderly school system in debt, beyond what he could master.  He used old schools, found 33 classrooms in tours of the old Lowell High School, and worked around some well-intentioned grants.  One of them was the grant that paid for Patrick Mogan to study the canal system.  I know this because I had the opportunity to work for a day with Peter Stamas and Patrick Mogan on the canal system.  It was Mogan’s idea.  It was the school department’s money.   My father said I would enjoy Mr. (not Dr. yet) Mogan’s style and I did.  Mr. Mogan had dreams for the canal city.  One that he stated to me was gondolas.  But he could not see how they would fit under the bridges.  So he wisely dropped that idea.

Patrick Mogan, the inspiration, had the canal system, all of it, set up on wooden platforms.  The water was blue paint.  The sides were white painted wooden panels.  Peter Stamas actively contributed to the conversation.  I do not believe I have ever had a better time than I did in the Smith/Baker Center where they had set up the system on the second floor in a hallway.  My father was determined to see that funding of the project stayed in the budget.  As far as I know, he wrote or oversaw the writing of the grant(s) himself.  So he proved he could be a dreamer.

In (The Commonwealth of Massachusetts/Department of Education – Lowell Public Schools, an Interim Report) written under the directives of Neil V. Sullivan, Commissioner of Education, the Commissioner stated that he was writing in response to a request of my father’s for additional information on a one-day visit on October 24, 1969, “this Department sent a team of Specialists to Lowell for a one day study,”  Dr. Peters openly asked for more information from the panel.  They “visited schools at all grade levels and talked to citizens, children, teachers, and administrators.”    The purpose was to determine where “the Department can best assist Lowell in meeting the challenge in the excellent report, “Agenda for Change” recently completed by Harvard University.”  Mr. or Dr. Sullivan says that “my staff are very impressed with the current determination of the citizens and school officials in Lowell to  implement change.” (Page One)

“It is apparent,” Dr. Sullivan stated, “that all responsible  elements of the Committee (the State Committee) are eager to assist you, your Staff, and the School Committee in your efforts to acheive equal educational opportunity for every child in Lowell.”  There was limited infighting.

“The Department of Education stands ready to join you in the tasks  that lie ahead.”  “I extend to you, Dr. Peters, and your fine staff my congratulations for the steps you have already taken on behalf of the children of Lowell.”  Thus did Dr. Sullivan close his letter.  He thought my father was a fine Superintendent.  A few years later, after he was denied tenure and ran for School Committee,  Wayne Peters won more than 5,000 votes ahead of his second-place finisher.  The 2nd. place went to Mrs. Stoklosa.  They became good friends,  His vote total was over 15,000 votes.

This may be  just the ramblings of his son, but I am the only son who went into education, and I was close to him throughout his tenure.  It is my feeling that he did a good job.  That he refused to bend to those who wanted to control him, and we almost had to leave Lowell rather than stay here. I have been here for forty-nine years, and in my case, fathered four children who had a hometown; something I never had because we moved so much.  I, as George Anthes continues to say, am still a “blow-in,” who has made Lowell his goal.

Hopefully, I am closer to the Shakespeare assessment than the Lord Chesterfield one.  I want to be that person, adroit, and stoical.  For me, the LHS election was historically perfect.  Hopefully, what we get out of it will be perfect.  Oh, and one other thing, my father would not have wasted money on building the 1980’s building.  He would have been on the construction site everyday he was Superintendent or School Committeeman.  He was the most tenacious man I knew.  He never understood politics, but he did fairly well with that medium.  This blog is written in order to let people know what he was like.  In Holbrook, MA, his next assignment, he was there for years, but he never moved out of Lowell until he retired to Florida.  Even then, he kept up with politics in Lowell.  He called me all of the time.

I wrote this because I am my father’s son.  Lowell is better off because he chose to live here.  He did not move out.  That was a miracle.  He moved many times as I was growing up.  From the safety  of Iowa to the tension  of Harvey, Illinois; to the relative safety of Lowell.  He thought that Lowell did not know what to do with him.  It made him a better person and helped him deal with the many people who supported him.  He even wrote a book about it.

 

Copyright by James A. Peters

 

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