A Former Teacher and Student Reflect on a Lifetime of Lessons

June 13, 2022
Hosted by Ron Roel

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Episode Description

As we get older, one of the most important ingredients to healthy aging, experts say, is lifelong learning—a self-motivated pursuit of new ideas, skills and knowledge, particularly in the second half of life. But today, we’re going to take a very different spin on lifelong learning, as we talk with Roberta Israeloff and George McDermott, the co-authors of a fascinating book, “What Went Right: Lessons from Both Sides of the Teacher’s Desk.” Roberta, a lifelong writer, is Director of the nonprofit Squire Family Foundation, dedicated to encouraging the teaching of philosophy at pre-college levels. And George, a writer and poet, is a former teacher who also had extensive editorial experience in several business and media fields over the course of his career. The two met in the late 1960s, when George was a young English teacher at Syosset High School on Long Island; Roberta was one of his students. “One of us was the teacher, one of us was the student. Mostly what we did was argue,” they recalled. But when they found each other on social media several years ago, they began a steady correspondence that became a book about their own “lifelong learning”—resulting in a provocative and vibrant exchange about their perspectives on public education over time, from inside and outside the classroom. Everything from their experiences as teachers, to the continuous debate over standardized testing, to the perennial questions about how education should prepare students to be “human,” to be discerning and productive citizens in a complex, increasingly divisive and unpredictable world. But it is also a story about what Roberta and George learned about themselves; what they remembered; how they reconnected; what went right (and wrong); what changed over their lives; and what has remained the same—what endures. Today’s conversation is Part I of a unique 3-part series that will continue in July and August.

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Ron Roel

Ron Roel

I’m a veteran journalist who spent a wide-ranging career covering business, politics and social issues, the last two decades focusing on the blend of diverse life skills I call successful aging.

I have written extensively on aging topics, spoken at conferences, radio and TV shows, and launched several entrepreneurial ventures, discovering along the way that the path to aging well also requires an unexpected entrepreneurial vision. I spent 20 years as a writer and editor at Long Island’s daily newspaper, Newsday, helping to found Act 2, a weekly section for 50-plus readers. I created Roelresources.com, a website offering practical advice and inspirational essays for people ages 40 and above. I have been a volunteer and consultant to AARP Long Island, writing articles, advocating for seniors, and developing action plans for the AARP Age-Friendly Communities initiative.

I am active in programs and organizations that support seniors, such as the National Aging In Place Council and the Senior Umbrella Network. I have developed a special expertise in family caregiving, as one of four brothers who took care of their mother for almost 25 years. I regularly collaborate with many professionals who provide services and support for older Americans, and I am completing a book for caregivers on Long Island, “The Caregiving Navigator/How to Plan, What to do, and Where to Turn When Caring for you Aging Loved Ones. And Yourself,” scheduled for publication in early 2021.

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Episode Directory

August 2022

July 2022

June 2022

  • 6/27/2022: After the Pandemic: Can We Redesign a Hybrid Office for Everyone? Listen Now
  • 6/20/2022: The End-of-Life Journey: How to Honor Our Final Transition Listen Now
  • 6/13/2022: A Former Teacher and Student Reflect on a Lifetime of Lessons Listen Now
  • 6/6/2022: Planning for Eldercare Today? You Need a Team of Advocates Listen Now
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