Quakers rightly rejoice and honor children to be tender plants.

A Tribute to Roger Weisberg as Inspirational True, Honest and Lifelong Educator

Caring So Much for Each and Every Child to Realize Their Dynamic Potentiality to Commit Decisively to Seeking and Creating A New World and CASEL to Systematize This First and Ultimate Concern in Public Education and All Youth Development Services

By Don Jessup Blake Long

March 3, 2022

“An understanding heart is everything in a teacher, and

cannot be esteemed highly enough. One looks back

with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with

gratitude to those who touched our human feeling. The

curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but

warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and

for the soul of the child.”

-Carl Jung, Swiss psychologist (1875-1961)

This is one of Roger Weisberg’s favorite quotes. He is the inspirational creative, loving and magnificent force of threefold epic grandeur that is CASEL as his everlasting and vitally important living legacy. My greatest privilege in public education and youth development policy was to work with so many kindred spirits as powerful, eternal, immediate and joyous as that of Roger whose empathy was simply incandescent, fulfilling, intoxicating and ever more surpassing. His lifetime vision and deep intuition was to care so much about each and every child reaching their dynamic whole potentiality as encompassing individual, social and whole humanity values and attributes. By dynamic potentiality I mean in the utopian romantic and democratic realist tradition rightly understood of “novums” like nativities, epiphanies and enchantments waiting to be realized as “something new under the sun.”

And thus this is a critical departure from our conventional wisdom, whether of liberal or liberation persuasion, for it is protesting against the deeply embedded good preferential option for the “poor, disabled, marginal and dehumanized” as nonetheless condescending and activating of our confining systems of justice of what we may believe is their manifest and likely potential in our most caring but then actually a paradox of reinforcing all the limited ways we have of loving and being with one another as each equally an extraordinary peer and emerging life-affirming and world-changing citizen in their own wright.

But happy are those who are born of such a privileged world and astonishingly are able to be, know, love and help all their fellow beloved children of God and as only God knows reach their full potential of who they are and to celebrate their astonishing differences and treasures by bringing them to fruition by sharing them with the world. This is a theological enrichment of the John Dewey and other’s pragmatic and progressive pedagogy and democracy of “learning by doing,” but here is it is being our whole selves by embodying and cherishing all that we are in God’s imago dei embodying within and without us.

And when you are on fire like this, you make the decisive commitment to act and devout your entire life and all that you are and cultivating of such inspiring and beautiful loves that you are able to have lasting impact on those you meet. You are able to work with literally multitudes of your own people, but all nearby and distant neighbors, strangers and “enemies” in systematizing this most intimate first and forever beatifying unforgettable encounter between humane beings into our great variety of instituted publics, strategies and cultures for supporting and enriching all new generations to make their and our world a renaissance metamorphosis as beautiful as possible, hopeful, meaningful and seizing of all inspiring futures for all.

This is the famous CASEL Framework Wheel to state clearly an extraordinary complex and rich research base and robust body of knowledge that is the cumulative fund of all that a democratic people can do to educate all generations to fulfill and surpass their potential. To think “all” of this begins with just one person, one teacher, one student, one school and one poet, prophet, believer and visionary life-affirming and world-changing humane being who simply surrenders themselves to the call deepest in their hearts, minds, souls, imagination and God’s embodying imago dei and trinity likeness (i.e. particular/universal godly attributes of transcendent, immanent and kairos radical amazement that we are simultaneously in the realm of limited humans and that of our everlasting, intimate and impossibly present and loving God.

This is the true convicting faith and astonishing realized hope that is sheer goodness, joy and overflowing in those like Roger and all others the same, in everyone, all creatures great and small, and similarly on fire in this self-creating and momentous dynamism of our whole humanity alive, replenishing and exalting.

Such is the entirety of God’s overflowing pleasure when pouring into hearts like my friend Roger, and all kindred billions I dare say just like him but not as well known.

I am moved this day, my dear friends, that this Spirit is what is most “true, honest, pure and lovely” of all individual personhoods, beloved communities and all democratic, theological and scientific peoples swept up in the wondrous whole spectrums of embodied divinity, creation and humanity in the making!! A teacher who touches the whole individual, social and everlasting remainder of generously expansive inclusive humanity in a child, a colleague and every other person with the privilege to be nearby is simply:

God’s sheer goodness to me come alive! I hope I have shared this well with you for your coming alive the same!