icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle


Professor Richard E Gross and I

In 1968 I was teaching American history in Edina High School in Edina, Minnesota when I learned that I was the recipient of a Coe fellowship at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. At this time I was married with three children so we would be housed in the married student-housing complex on the Stanford campus. After arriving at Stanford I learned that the Coe Fellowship, for high school social studies teachers of American history, focused on modern trends in history and revisionist history. I took a course from Professor Kennedy, a young and eminent scholar and a course from a visiting Professor from The University of Washington.

While at Stanford, I learned of an exceptional Professor of Social Studies Education who had been elected as the president of the National Council for the Social Studies. He was Professor Richard E. Gross, who was called Dick by almost everyone. He was married to Jane, and he liked to make reference to “Dick and Jane,” the famous reading primer. One day I decided to go by the School of Education to meet Professor Gross. I checked his office hours and came back at an appropriate time. Several students were lined up outside his office were waiting to meet with Dick to discuss their unit projects. I stood in line and waited my turn and when it came I was ushered into his very large and long office. I was greatly impressed by the fact that the long wall consisted of a huge bookshelf that was completely full of books related to the social studies. Dick also taught a course related to the study of the history of education from a world perspective.

Dick was a large and very jolly man. He gave me the impression of being a kind of German “burgermeister” type of person, a very impressive man with a kindly disposition.
After our initial introductions, we sat together at his desk and he asked about my work at Stanford and at Edina. At this time, I was not a member of the National Council of the Social Studies or familiar with its work in advancing the teaching profession for social studies teachers. He then showed me a large map of the world, which was located at one end of his office. It was full of colored pins that represented the locations of his students from the United States and from around the world. During Dick’s career at Stanford University he would produce as many as fifteen hundred master’s degrees and as many as one hundred doctorate degrees, an amazing record.

Dick then turned his attention to me, and wanted to know if I was interested in enrolling in his doctoral program. I thought about this for a long time and decided that I could not do this. I was married with three children and I learned from other doctoral students that Stanford tended to keep their doctoral students for as many as years five to seven years. I was in a hurry and could not afford the time or the expenses. I returned to Edina High School to continue my teaching, but the seeds that Dick had planted in my mind would continue to grow. I told Dick of my reservations and concerns. I had taken the GRE previously and had done poorly on it, and I was using flash cards to improve my vocabulary (a strategy that would work well for me in the future). Dick did not seem to be concerned. He seemed to have an uncanny perception about people and was genuinely interested in them. I was so impressed with him that he became my most unforgettable professor. In future years, we would meet again and this would lead to an amazing working relationship that would produce a large volume of workshops, articles, and books. (More to follow later.)

Be the first to comment