2011 TC Pressroom
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Remembering It All

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Len Blackman

Len Blackman

Emeritus Professor Len Blackman reads from his new memoir

By Suzanne Guillette

When Len Blackman, TC Professor Emeritus of Education and Psychology, set out to write his memoir, he saw a unique opportunity for self-examination: “Did I achieve what I wanted to, with developing a healthy balance between family and career? Did I reflect positive values to which I aspired? Where did I stand on the scales of honesty, integrity and empathy?”

The result of Blackman’s ruminations is The Psychle of My Life: A Memoir (Fall Court Press, 2009), which he read from in early May to an audience of students, colleagues and family members in Milbank Chapel. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Blackman’s retirement from the College.

Taking place on the eve of TC’s 2011 Blackman Lecture, Blackman’s Book Talk was co-sponsored by TC’s Center for Opportunities and Outcomes for People with Disabilities and the Gottesman Libraries. It was followed by a TC Alumni reception.

In his career, Blackman certainly aimed to “ride on the good side of life’s see-saw,” as he puts it. He worked tirelessly in the field of disability rights, explicating the capabilities and possibilities for those with mental disabilities. Blackman also served as Acting Dean and Ombudsman at TC and received the TC Medal for Distinguished Service in 1999. His book includes a letter he received from a colleague, Ron Baken, congratulating him on that honor.

 “…Perhaps without knowing it, you exemplified so much of what an ideal TC might be: dedicated to real scholarship, intellectual inquiry and rational discourse,” wrote Blaken. “You have consistently been one of the College’s models.”

The Psychle of My Life is not a scholarly tome, though certainly it touches on many aspects of Blackman’s career. Instead, the author’s goal, first and foremost, was to share his experiences with his family.

“I would like my children and family to meet the important people in my life, and share with my family significant life events,” Blackman told his Milbank audience.

Thus the book’s content ranges from an account of a trip Blackman took as a boy with his maternal grandmother to a slaughterhouse in the South Bronx to the birth of his children to remarks he delivered at various TC conferences and meetings. He also included sections on the military and political and social commentary.

Ultimately, Blackman said, the process of recalling his life was a rewarding one. “Mostly, I wanted to leave it as a legacy to my children and grandchildren,” he said. “I wanted them to how much they were treasured.”
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