For the New Year we start off with a document: the eighth grade logic and public speaking notes of Ralph Greco, Palm Beach Day School/Academy’s long-time English teacher. How long? This was the introduction which Walter Butler, then PBDS’s headmaster, gave him and his wife when they started in 1968:
Mr. Greco, a native of Pennsylvania, will teach sixth and eighth grade English. A graduate of the University of Maryland in 1955, Mr. Greco taught English four years in the Pittsburgh area prior to teaching English in the Palm Beach County schools for the past seven years. Mrs. Greco, also a native of Pennsylvania, will teach in one of the Second Grade sections. She received her B.S. degree from Pennsylvania State, majoring in Elementary Education and Home Economics.
He’s still teaching there, something which was underscored by the Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell’s piece just before Christmas last year. And he’s become something of the school’s “historian,” as this page attests.
As for me, let’s start with the public speaking part: it was immensely useful for that, although it was some time before I really got to put it to use. The logic was even more complicated: I was certainly receptive to what he was saying, but in an environment of hidden agendas and a lot of nice-sounding but self-serving rhetoric, it was hard to implement. It wasn’t until undergraduate school at Texas A&M that I took a full-blown course in logic, complete with syllogistic logic, which was missing from this presentation. (I also spent much time with Thomas Aquinas in those days, which is a logic course in and of itself.)
But even that had its moments:
One of the things that the Mechanical Engineering department required its majors to take was Logic, which was offered by the Philosophy Department. Most of the engineers did pretty well in this course, which was doubtless a source of secret frustration to liberal arts’ professors.
One day I went up to pick up a test from the professor. The professor looked at the grade, noted that I had nearly aced it, looked at me, and exclaimed, “You’re not as dumb as you look!”
I’m not sure that Mr. Greco would agree with that sentiment, but hey, that’s what happens when you go “beyond the gates.”