Commentary: The Passing of Dr. Martin Haberman

Jan 2, 2012 by

Dr. Shaughnessy is currently Professor in Educational Studies and is a Consulting Editor for Gifted Education International and Educational Psychology Review.

Michael F. Shaughnessy
Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, New Mexico

I was of course, saddened by the news of the death of Dr. Martin Haberman. He was an inspiration to many, an insightful thinker, and someone who had a dream. His dream was about providing a good education for children in poverty. His work revolved around preparing teachers to teach in inner city schools. Having taught in the South Bronx for two years- I could relate to the work of Dr. Haberman. While teaching in the South Bronx, I learned a good deal about kids, learning, teaching, and the kind of preparation that was needed. On the one hand, many kids were interested, wanted to learn and their parents encouraged them. On the other hand some kids were discipline problems, had been retained once or twice and were bored out of their minds. I did learn that structure, consistency and routine were paramount. And on the other hand, I learned to be creative, beg for supplies and learned how to coach basketball. Poverty is an issue for students. Poverty affects school supplies. Poverty affects the child’s ability to go to a museum on a field trip. And poverty rears it’s ugly head at lunch time when kids have no money for the cafeteria.

Things have changed since then, but not much. Some of the issues remain the same. Some of the concerns remain the same. And some of the educational concerns remain the same.

Teaching is not easy. Teaching hard to reach, and hard to teach kids is not easy. And teaching any child from a poverty stricken environment or home is problematic.

Marty did other things over the years- he edited journals, wrote commentaries, encouraged others, and mentored still others.
One of Marty’s last pieces was about NCLB and the promise that this law held out. It is probably still being debated in Washington D.C.
And some of Marty’s other concerns will live on- the preparation of teachers to work in poverty stricken schools, teaching poverty stricken kids who want to learn.

I suppose there are many ways to honor Dr. Martin Haberman. Some people set up scholarships. Others write about him. Those impacted by him will choose their own way. The man may be dead but his work will live on.

His ideas will live on and his impact will live on. My own New Year’s Resolution is to go back and review his work, and make it a monthly effort to highlight some of the things he has done–his journal for a Just and Caring Society, his efforts and endeavors, and all that he was involved with over the years.

I am hoping that others interested in highlighting his work over the next 12 months will join me in this endeavor.

Marty, your work lives on. Your work will go on. There is still a lot to do… have just passed on that baton….and your followers will take it from here.

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