An Interview with Stephen J. Gould: Joltin' Joe and the Pursuit of Excellence
Golberg, Mark F., Phi Delta Kappan
Award-winning author Stephen Jay Gould shares some of his personal history as well as his views on education and contemporary American culture.
Strictly speaking, Stephen Jay Gould is not an educator. He's a paleontologist, Harvard professor, and arguably America's finest and most commercially successful serious science writer. He does not profess to know what is laudable or lamentable about the public schools, since his career in education has been devoted to highly motivated graduate students and undergraduates. Indeed, he describes Harvard as "a school of valedictorians - highly skilled and pretty well motivated" and hardly an accurate microcosm of America's youth. However, Gould does have very strong feelings about what he valued in his own education and what he values in the educational world he knows - not to mention what he misses in today's students and in American culture.
I interviewed Professor Gould in his modem, beautifully renovated, spacious New York loft, which is filled with his artist wife's colorful and fascinating finished works and works-in-progress, built-in storage cabinets and bookcases, lots of books, comfortable furniture, and the old typewriter on which he still prefers to write. Dressed informally and without shoes, Gould graciously invited me into his office and answered all my specific questions, save those related to his immediate family. Not willing to react to a general question, Gould punctuated our interview with the courteous and gently spoken admonition "Be more specific."
The holder of more than two dozen honorary degrees; a charter recipient (1981) of a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship (a "genius award," as they have come to be known); the winner of numerous literary, scholarly, and scientific awards; and the author of 15 books, Gould was pleased to begin the interview with …
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Publication information: Article title: An Interview with Stephen J. Gould: Joltin' Joe and the Pursuit of Excellence. Contributors: Golberg, Mark F. - Author. Journal title: Phi Delta Kappan. Volume: 78. Issue: 5 Publication date: January 1997. Page number: 395+. © 1999 Phi Delta Kappa, Inc. COPYRIGHT 1997 Gale Group.
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