tv [untitled] CSPAN June 13, 2009 10:30am-11:00am EDT
visited and praised because i found it quite interesting that you could go to an oil rig and find five workers sitting around trying to read, trying to write their own stories. what an exciting kind of extraordinary thing. i think learning should go from cradle to grave. i think that it's one of the crazy things about our educational system is it's considered for the young, like the young learn and then, what, they go on automatic pilot the rest of their lives. that's nutty. so i did admire that, and i do admire that. so, yeah, i, i don't find that objectionable. >> host: we have another question from the audience. name and location of where you're from. >> guest: my name is jessica, and i'm from cleveland, ohio. my question is an educational one which piggybacks on the question the gentleman asked earlier. given the importance of teachers
and schools are only as good as teachers, what are your thoughts on how we can recruit, retain, and support good teachers and the other side of the coin, teachers who don't believe children can learn or who are discouraging and tend to maintain a system that we have, what are your thoughts about how you handle that? >> guest: are you a teacher? >> no, but i'm a former school board member, and i had to deal with no child left behind, and if i could just put in one other comment, what we can do to enrich our curriculum to we can get history, culture and arts, i think it's reading and arithmetic and not much else, and it just kills students' interest in learning. >> guest: yeah, i think you make so many good points. i mean, we're missing history in a big way, we're missing science. you all know we're missing geography. "national geographic" did a survey of 18-25 american kid, they asked them to find certain
countries, 80 percent couldn't find iraq, 80 percent couldn't find palestine, israel, and something like 10 percent couldn't find the united states. i know that makes you laugh, but the problem is as bernadine often says, there ought to be a rule we can't bomb a country we can't find on the map, and that way the level of violence would go way down. [laughter] the question of recruitment. i think it's a huge and important question, and the problem, again, around controlling metaphors around education is that we have bought into the idea, for example, that teach for america -- that type of program, alternative certification -- is the way to go. now, i can't defend the status quo, i wouldn't defend the status quo because we do a poor, poor job in colleges of education. but the idea that all we need to fix the schools is a smart kid from michigan or penn or columbia who gets two months of training then goes into the worth school in america and
leaves in two years, that's not a model for success. we need to invest in teachers, and that means higher pay, that means recognition of the actual work that they do which is back-breaking and mind-bending. it's the idea, well, they work six hours. forget about it. teachers work 24/7, many of them, for months and months. and so i think we need to pay more, i think we need to create schools in which teachers want to teach by recognizing their intelligence. we need to recognize their professional wisdom and allow that to flourish in schools rather than treat them as if they're mid-level bureaucrats in a factory. so those are, those are broad, but those are the -- and i should make a distinction as i did earlier. the kids who go into teach for america are fantastic kids to a person. they're wonderful, wonderful people, it's just the system and the theory of change strikes me as wrong. in terms of teachers as they
exist, here again i want to say that there's a metaphoric shift that we need to make. whenever john mccain stood up in the campaign, and he often did, and said we need to get the lazy, incompetent teachers out of the classroom, all of us in this room felt ourselves nodding dully, even me. what am i going to do, stand up and say, no, the incompetence must stay? i want my granddaughters to have the lazy teachers, for sure. no. if i stood up and got to the microphone first and said every kid in an american public school deserves an intellectually-grounded, curious, morally-committed, you know, well-paid, well-rested teacher, i would get approval too. so the question is how do we frame it? i think most people slogging out their teaching lives in the chicago public schools are fantastic. they work in systems that undermine their ability. they don't recognize their intelligence and talent, they don't pull on it, they don't give them the kinds of opportunities to talk to one
another, to work, you know, with parents that would allow them to be more successful. so we need to change structures much more than we need to change the people. >> host: cheetah, bellton, texas. please go ahead with your question for bill ayers. >> caller: yes. i want to know what are the three or four most important things for teachers to do to encourage their students to learn? >> host: thank you, cheetah. >> guest: i'm sorry, i missed it. >> host: three or four most important things for a teacher to teach their student or to be with their student in a classroom. >> guest: you know, it's a huge question, and we could spend the next several hours talking about it, but simply i would say this: the intellectual challenge of teaching, the intellectual and ethical challenge of teaching is to see your students as three-dimensional creatures, much like yourself. people with aspirations, goals that have to be taken into account. that's not easily done in a
system that reduces kids to deficits and that kind of thrives on a toxic habit of labeling. so we have kids who are bd, ebh, ld, tag, it's just an endless warm of labels. but that doesn't get at the heart of this, you know, one and only who will ever trod the earth. so your job is to look through all of that, you know, confetti and to see the actual human being before you. that's challenge number one. challenge number two is to create an environment that's deep enough, rich enough and wide enough so every kid who walks into your classroom can find something familiar and something to stretch toward. creating an environment is huge, and it's undertheorized and it's undertaught in colleges of education, and it's ignored often. so if you go into a room and i do all the time where they desperately want the kids to read but the room itself is illiterate, there's no books, there's no magazines, there's no
words, there's no time to write, that's -- you're running the environment against your goals. and i learned this as a young teacher. i was 20 years old, i used to take my kids to the detroit metropolitan airport, and i had nothing in mind except that we would watch the planes take off. i was teaching kindergarten. we got there, and this was before security and before airports had turned into malls, so they would look at concourse a, and i had six 5-year-olds or 85-year-olds with me, and what would they do? exactly, they would run. because a 5-year-old seeing a hall like that will run down the hall. well, i would chase after them and round them up, and the next time we went i'd give them sketch books and explain to them that they can't run, and i would give them m and ms at the end of the corridor if they just stayed together. and we got there, and you guessed it, they ran. and why? [laughter] because the environment trumped the lesson. and we don't pay attention to that, but it's true.
the environment tells you to read or not. the environment tells you to cooperate or not, the environment tells you to be a good citizen or not. so what all this dividing up and ranking kids into winners and losers does is create the conditions we're trying to teach cooperatively is a loser. so creating an environment is huge. and then i think linking teaching to the wider world. there's no way that teaching could exist in a vacuum. so we have to open our eyes to a wider world and participate in it. so students should, obviously, learn to read and write and do arisk me tick and history and geography and all the rest of it. but creating that environment, creating a culture of curiousty, a culture of learning goes a long way towards that goal. >> host: a little bit more than halfway through our in depth on booktv with bill ayers. we're going to take a short break. we're live from chicago with a studio audience, and we'll be
back your phone calls and more questions from the audience. >> when i arrived here and was looking for your office, someone told me that it's easy to find because you have all of these things attached to your door. >> guest: well, they tell a lot about my interests which are eclectic. and ever-changing. so this wall here next to my office and that wall what happens is that as things strike my attention and i put them up here, eventually this wall will be covered by clippings and things that i find that i think are worth sharing. my students who are waiting for office hours will sit out here, and i figure i'll give them a whole, you know, political education. some of it, of course, is just personal stuff.
this is my son's, one of my sons' plays that was at julliard. he's a play wright, and so i have -- >> what's his name? >> his name is zade. here's a very powerful quote from may 1967 and so on. and so the wall grows, and then at some point somebody complains, and then the dean sends me a note and says this wall doesn't belong to me, the door belongs to me. but the wall belongs to the -- is part of the public square, and therefore, i have to take everything down. so then i take everything down, and then it starts over. and then the door similarly. you know, i'm an education professor, so i have to have the chalkboard with, i must remember to be cheerful and obedient written over and over. >> i notice a picture of you here. >> i was in the merchant marines in 1964. i had dropped out of michigan, and i joined the merchant
marines. that's my identity card. yeah, these are my three kids, now all grown. he's a teacher in oakland, california, now but that's him at about 8 years old, and he's now a playright and a teacher at columbia university. he's an author and a first-year law student at yale. this is -- oh, and this is my playright son and his wife, and she's a novelist. and a poet. the place is a little crowded because i've been here 20 years. those are my three kids. yep, those are my three kids, and that's us at our place in california that i mentioned. that's us in california. about 12 years ago, i think. several of my students have published books. this is of borders and dreams which is, was the doctoral dissertation of chris carger. this is a terrific and important book, holler if you hear me, by
greg mitchie. these shelves are for my research class because i teach classes in qualitative or narrative research, and one of the things we do is we read a lot of examples of qualitative or interpretive research. we try to see what other people have done. for example, this is a tremendous book about, about street vendors in new york city, and mitch duneier kind of hung out with these guys and became one of them. that's the cover after a book that i edited, and that woman, maxine green, was my mentor at teachers college, columbia university. the other book i just found on my desk is the berkeley high school slang dictionary. this is a dictionary that my brother who just retired as an english teacher at berkeley high school put together year after year. and it's a very, very smart book
about language and the palace tisty of language. the opening word is all right. final word in the book is zook, a man dressed in latin style very stylishly and carefully dressed. the best thing i've ever done in my life is to raise three extraordinary kids, and the most fun i have these days is taking care of my grandchildren. >> do you have any pictures of them here? >> yeah. i have tons of pictures of them. that's -- there's one, there's one -- >> what's her name? >> dalen. that gives me a lot to do, and also the other thing i like about taking care of my granddaughters is that it's not only kind of personally satisfying and wonderful to watch kids grow up and to watch their minds work and to watch them make the connections, you know, that we take for granted and to have them looking at the world in a different way, but also i feel like it's useful because i have these -- my son
>> this summer, book >> this summer booktv is asking, what are you reading? >> the books i would have pulled out if you'd asked what are the books you're reading now are probably two or three graphic novels. what is fun home? do you know the book fun home? it's a graphic memoir by allison beck tell who is famous in a couple of different subcultures because she has had an online comic strip for years called dikes to watch out for. and she's a funny, feisty, irreverent, insurgent kind of artist. and she spent many years working on a memoir, and it's her true story of growing up and coming out as a lesbian, and her
participants were english teachers, so it's a -- parents were english teachers so the lenses through which she refracts her works are very literary lenses. she realizes that her father is a repressed homosexual, and as she makes that discovery, he kills himself. so it's a powerful, poignant, funny, incredibly moving book. so allison bechtel is one of my favorite current writers, authors, artists. and the other book that you may have heard of is called persepolis which is a graphic memoir of the iranian revolution. she's an iranian-french woman, and it's an extraordinary book and a very different style than bechtel, but of coming of age at a time of repression and autocracy and kind of a theological, a theocratic kind
of nightmare in her country and fleeing to france, and it's got all the adolescent troaps of falling in love and discovering your body and all the rest of it. but told against the backdrop of this gigantic historic moment. very moving book and shows you both books together show you kind of the great flexibility of this medium and the great things you can do with comics. which i don't pretend to be an expert about ft i've taught comics for a long time, and now i've written a comic, but, man, it's a terrific medium, and it's one that reaches into all corners of the world that other literature doesn't. >> to see more summer reading lists and other program information, visit our web site at booktv.org.
>> this summer, book tv >> this summer booktv is asking, what are you reading? >> cnn's wolf blitzer, who will you be reading this summer? >> i've got some books that i hope to read this summer beginning with the emperor's new clothes, a very well-known washington lawyer, he's an old friend of mine. he was very much involved many years ago in watergate, in the 9/11 commission. the emperor's new clothes, i think he's going to have some good stories to tell about what's going on here in washington, certainly what's happened over these past several decades. another book i want to read is by william cohen, house of cards. this is a book that basically tells the story of how the collapse on wall street occurred, what was going on. i've had him on my show, he's really smart, and i think this
is -- and i've read parts of this book already, but i want to really get through it as a result of what i've heard directly from william cohen. there's a book coming out this summer entitled myths, illusions and peace: finding a new direction for america in the middle east by dennis ross who's now working in the obama administration on iran among other subjects and david m makovsky. i go way back with david, he used to work with me, so i'm really interested in what these two guys have to say about the arab/israeli conflict since both of them have either worked or covered it so, so long. another book is by david sanger of the new york times entitled the inheritance, the world obama confronts and the challenges to american power. having read him for years in "the new york times," i know what a terrific reporter he is, and he's put together what's really an important book on what the president of the united
states has basically inherited. he's been on my show, he's smart, and i think this is going to be an important book, i'll learn something reading this book. and finally, the one, the one fiction, piece of fiction that i want to read this summer -- i hope to read some others, but i definitely want to read elie e wiesel's a mad desire to dance. i was really moved by what he said a few weeks ago when he spoke openly about having lost his foundation, so much money in the bernard madoff uproar, my fiasco. he was so smart, and he's lost millions, but this is a book, obviously, that continues what he's been writing for so many years about the holocaust. so i want to get through this book, if i can, this summer. those are the five books i plan on reading this summer. i hope to get through them all and then start on some more. >> well, you're, obviously, a very busy man. if we find you reading, where do
you do your reading? >> i try to read a little bit before i go to sleep at night. i try to read on weekends, i just go out on my deck in the backyard and just relax, especially if the weather is good. you know, whenever you can. i am a busy guy, and i don't have a whole lot of time to do fun reading, but you make time, and it's important. and i really appreciate books. >> wolf blitzer, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> to see more summer reading lists and other program information, visit our web site at booktv.org. >> and we are back >> host: and we are back live from chicago with this month's in depth program. bill ayers has been our guest for the last two hours, and now we are joined by one of his co-authors, bernadine dohrn.
and the most recent book they have co-authored is called race course against white supremacy, this is the book. but first a little bit about bernadine. how did you get the nickname of the radical left? >> guest: i think it was the lunatic left. >> guest: no, that's bill's interpretation. [laughter] you know, some columnist during the 1970, i think the year 1970 when we first became fugitives came up with that idea. so, you know, it was unusual to have women leaders of national organizations and political organizations, so you had to reach around in history and find somebody similar. >> host: what was your role with the weather underground? >> guest: well, i was a national leader of sds for, from 1968-1970, and then with the weather underground i was part of the team of people that decided to not show up for our
court dates and to create an underground. >> host: was that scary when your court date came and went and you weren't there? >> guest: it really wasn't scary. it was rather a relief. we were in a situation in 1969 if i can just conjure it up for a minute those of you who are chicagoans will remember that the level of tension and hostility and violence between the chicago police department and political activists had reached a level that we could only have imagined, you know, the assassination of fred hampton and mark clark, black panther party leaders by the fbi and the chicago police department we now know but then covered up by the city and reenacted as if they had provoked the attack and assassination, constant arrests of white radicals, of us, really for a lot of nuisance kind of
events, and, you know, massive demonstrations against the war which by then was who knew that it was going to go on for five more years? but where about a thousand people a day were being killed in southeast asia. so the level of polarization in the country, the level of militancy and resistance was enormous, and in that framework we once we had kind of dropped out and changed our names and were just trying not to be caught and to regroup, it was kind of a relief to be outside of that caldron. >> host: bernadine, where did you grow up? >> guest: chicago. my hometown. yep. eugene field grade school on the north side, and then my parents moved to milwaukee, i graduated from high school in milwaukee, and this is my 50th reunion year for high school. that's one of the ones -- >> host: who were your participants and what did they do? >> guest: dorothy and barney. you know, i had a wonderful
childhood. not money. i'm the first person in my family to go to college. my parents had a high school education. my mom was my dad's secretary. she was orphaned as a kid and passed around. she was swedish. she lived into her 90s. my dad lived to 94. he was born on hall stead and about, halstead and about 14th street. used to go to hull house as a kid. in my later life i drove him by hull house and said this is where jane adams and all the women of hull house were as if i were telling him something, and he was, like, i came here every day after school. they considered themselves a mixed marriage at the time because my dad was jewish and my mom was swedish. their families were not happy with their marriage. but they had a good marriage, and they wanted better for their daughters. >> host: how did you get
involved in the antiwar movement and student activism? >> guest: pretty simple, i watched, i watched. part of race course, you'll see, is a story of my looking at tv and looking at images in the newspaper from my safety and security of an all-white high school in milwaukee and thinking something's going on out here. and mattel was lynched, and these seven youngsters are trying to get into school in little rock and they're my age. something's going on. i felt very far away from it, but i knew there was a world out there that i wanted to get to, and it took my quite a while, but right when i started law school at the university of chicago dr. king came to chicago, and i was -- i'm not going to miss this. i'm not going to miss this. so i volunteered with his lawyer team, and pretty soon i found myself on the west side trying to desegregate chicago housing
and bring the housing that was there up to code to make it ha bit bl. so i wore a little armband that said lawyer. you know, i was a second-year law student. pretty ignorant of the world. so it was a big teaching, eye-opening experience for me. >> host: and where did you go to law school, when did you graduate, and have you preaxed law? >> guest: i went to the university of chicago, i graduated in '67. there were only six women in the law school in my day, not a single person of color. and so -- and every single guy in my class who included you may be interested to know john ashcroft, every -- >> host: did you know him? >> guest: sure, there was only 100 of us. >> [inaudible] >> guest: there were only 100 of us. he did know me, there were only six women. every single guy became draft
eligible the day we graduated from law school, so they spent two years in anxiety trying to understand what they were going to do, were they going to go -- were they going to be drafted, were they going to go to vietnam, were they going to resist, were they going to do legal services for the poor, so it was a tumultuous time inside the law school. i never did practice law. i went off as an organizer and activist first for the national lawyers' guild and then for students for a democratic society. but i did law, and i continue to do law and teach law even though i didn't practice law. >> host: as a leader of the weather underground, you sent or wrote many of the communiques, correct, that were sent out? and in this book, "sing a battle song," one of the communiques was from december 6, 1970, new morning. what was the impact and the importance of new morning? >> guest: new morning we wrote from being fugitives, from the unro