Describing Briefly, Interviewee's Life Chronologically while Highlighting Events of Major Importance
The object of the interview or the interviewee is Prof. Avram Hart* (the actual names of the interviewee and those within his social circle have been concealed to maintain his confidentiality). Hart was born on December 7th, 1928 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, particularly at the East Oak Lane neighbourhood. Mr. Hart is the son of a renowned professor of Hebrew at the Gratz College, Mr. William Hart (1896-1977). The father was also a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). As far as nativity is concerned, Mr. William Hart had been a Ukrainian Jew before moving to the US, where Avram Hart was born.
Avram Hart would move to attend the Oak Lane Country Day School. One of the most interesting things that happened at the school as far as personal development is concerned is that, despite the racial segregation in the form of anti-Semitism which Hart as a Jew experienced, at the age of 10, Avram Hart wrote his first article. While this in itself is not special, the most special aspect of this development is that the article tackled a topic too complex for a ten year old to tinker with: the threat of the spread of fascism. This article had been written against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War which had culminated into the fall of Barcelona. By the time Hart was getting to be 12 years old, he had already become fully conversant and identifiable with anarchist politics.
At 17 and having graduated from the Central High School of Philadelphia, Hart enrolled for, and took linguistics and philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. While at the university, Avram Hart is known to have been impacted by renowned lecturers and scholars such as Nelson Goodman and Zellig Harris. Avram Hart would proceed to earn a BA in 1949, later in 1951, an MA.
In the same year Avram Hart earned his BA degree, he proceeded to marry a fellow linguist by the name of Amanda Meir. The marriage remained intact for 59 years and was only extirpated by Amanda succumbing to cancer. This was after the couple had three children- Mary (b. 1957), Diana (b. 1960) and Mark (b. 1967). Avram Hart would move ahead to receive his PhD in 1955 from the University of Pennsylvania. The PhD was in linguistics. As a Harvard Junior Fellow, he had conducted a greater part of the doctoral in research at the Harvard University, during the four years. It is from this juncture that he began developing some of his linguistic ideas. Avram Hart then joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as a staff member in 1955. In 1961, Avram Hart would be appointed as a full professor at the MIT Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics which is presently known as the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. For a decade (1966- 1976), Avram Hart held a Ferrari P. Ward Professorship of Linguistics and Modern Languages. By 1976, Avram Hart had become appointed as the MIT professor. So immense is Avram Hart’s output and contribution to the MIT that upto the moment, he has taught therein for 56 without any interruption.
Avram Hart has totally redefined linguistics with the theories and rules he has introduced in language. Avram Hart is also a historian, an economist and a mathematician. As such, he is among one of those who opposed America’s involvement in the Vietnam War and some of the bellicose US foreign policies. This has always seen Avram Hart be at the forefront of dissent and largely downplayed or ignored by the US mainstream media. Nevertheless, Avram Hart remains the most consulted for his views internationally by news outlets and publications. At some given instances, Avram Hart has been a recipient of death threats because of his stand on the American foreign policy.
Describing The Circumstances, Relationships and Events That Have Shaped This Person's Life There are several factors which have shaped Avram Hart’s life, the choices he has made and his ways. These factors encompass the circumstances, relationships and the eventualities which marked Avram Hart’s life. That these factors are pervasive in the choices and life of Avram Hart is a matter which is beyond repudiation and is to be proven forthwith.
In the first place, one must take note of and appreciate the fact that the fact that Avram Hart coming from an ethnic minority helped trigger his dexterous streak. It is at the Oak Lane County Day School that Hart came face to face with racism and racial segregation and antagonism. The reality of racial antagonism being leveled out at Avram Hart is exemplified in the bullying tendencies he witnessed especially at the hands of Irish and German Catholics. The fact that Hart was the only Jew in the school made the intensity of the racial segregation and antagonism readily palpable. It is this development that would catalyze Avram Hart into training to understand the phenomenon of racial hatred and hate. It is this factor which would introduce him to politics and the different forms of rule such as fascism which between 1850 and 1950 was becoming increasing common in Europe (especially Germany and Italy). It is thus not a wonder that he would find writing about fascism while at 10 while his counterparts did not even know anything about forms of rule.
It is also important to note that because of the racism which had become entrenched between the Oak Lane County Day School and Avram Hart, the latter remain totally bereft of friends. It is only logical that with no friends, Hart was left with very little alternatives to rudimentary levels of investigation and academic or intellectual seriousness. This is well underscored by the fact that by the time Hart was getting to age 12, he had already become acquainted with anarchist politics.
According to Cavanaugh and Blanchard-Filds (2005), the above rapid development of Prof. Hart is important when cast in the light of human development theories. In the first place, it defies B. F. Skinner’s theory of Operant Conditioning, Bandura’s theory of Social Cognition and Piaget’s theory of Cognitive Development. This is because both theories tend towards and acknowledge conformity to the surrounding social standards, yet Prof. Hart defies conformity at a very tender age. He is writing about a subject as serious as the threat of the spread of fascism while his contemporaries are writing compositions about simple things which are limited within their social network (such as friends, family and pet).
The best theory that would best help in understanding Hart is Ericson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development. This is not so much because Ericson’s theory dissects Hart’s personality, but rightly because it splits the stages of human development. These stages help in analyzing Hart’s actions. It is important to acknowledge the absence of Ericson’s first stage of trust vs. mistrust. The aspect is seen to play out in the sense that at school, the aspect of mistrust must have been a reality, due to bullying by children from Catholic backgrounds. Nevertheless, the aspect of mistrust was easily downplayed by the trust that Hart got from a stable family and home.
That Hart is a person who developed very fast is seen in the fact that by the time he is 10, he had already passed the Fifth Psychosocial Stage of Identity vs. Confusion. This is seen in the fact that he had already known that he is a Jew; that Jews were the most popular victims of fascism; and that fascism was a very form of rule.
That the same racial segregation and antagonism took a greater role in shaping the course that Hart took in manifold ways is also emphasized by a simple fact that racism must have acted as an impetus for Hart to strive for excellence. For instance, it is given that Hart had become acquainted with the manner in which fascist tenets in Italy and Germany had cast aspersions on the person of the Jew. For instance, in Italy where fascism lasted as from 1922 to 1943 especially during the reign of Benito Mussolini, Italians (and by extension, the world) were being made to believe that the Jewish race was genetically an impure breed and that they were to thus desist from siring children with the Jew. Among other things, the Italian was being told to work hard and remain unquestioningly loyal to Italian law and tenets as a way of ensure a stronger Italy. The situation was not any different in Germany. It is of no doubt that reading and being exposed to such ideology must have only evoked a strong challenge within Avram Hart’s innermost being to prove to the world, the great treasure that the Jew is.
The same is especially true, given that at the time Hart was carrying out his studies as an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, World War II was in its full wake. As World War II raged, the Jew had become the object of scorn and abject and inhuman victimization in Europe. While the Jew was being maligned and politically persecuted in Italy, in Germany, the Jew was being subjected to forced labour in concentration camps. He would then be placed into poisonous gas chambers and be scorched alive when Nazi rule in Germany was rife. It is less likely that one who shares a point of commonality as high as an ethno-linguistic and a common cultural history with such a people would spend his life in mediocrity, sluggishness, foolishness and wanton abandon. The fact that at the time, very many inventions, both technological and theoretical were being made by the Jew confirms the veracity of this observation. Thus, the case is the same with Avram Hart. It is therefore a matter which is true, that the persecution of the Jew at the height of the World War II was a major boost to the Jew in general, but also to Avram Hart specifically.
Apart from the ethnic heritage mentioned above, another antecedent factor which helped shape the destiny of Avram Hart is parenting. Avram Hart was born into a family whose head; William Hart was a professor lecturing at the Gratz College. The father was also a member of the IWW. It is this high standard academic record which would most probably spur Avram Hart onwards into ensuring that he excels in academics as a way of consolidating the same track record. The role of the family in Avram’s choice of academic areas of investigation is seen in the aspect of language. Despite being Jewish and thus being proficient in Yiddish, the family largely communicated in English. It is not at all fortuitous that Avram Hart chose English as the medium in which to study linguistics. It is possible to study language in Yiddish, French, Germany or any other language, but Avram Hart chose English.
The people around Avram Hart also cannot be subtracted from his success and line (or specialty) of success. It is after enrolling with the University of Pennsylvania (the departments of philosophy and linguistics) that Avram came across serious scholars who helped him maintain focus and keep the zeal for academic excellence. The same scholars also imbued Avram with a great extent of inspiration. Some of these scholars were: Zellig Harris, Nelson Goodman and West C. Churchman.
In another wavelength, in the life of Avram Hart, there is the total exemplification of the adage that birds of the same feather flock together. While this adage simply implies that people of like minds, values and ideals, Avram epitomizes it in the sense that immediately he falls in love with linguistics, he also meets and falls in love with a fellow linguist by the name of Amanda Meir. Just like Avram, Amanda Meir was also an American linguist with specialty in language acquisition in children. Therefore, that both Mr. and Mrs. Hart were (and are) lovers in linguistics is a matter which is true, and the fact that brought them together. This perhapss is another contributing factor to Hart’s success. Cavanaugh and Blanchard-Fields (2005) point out that Ericson’s Psychosocial Stage 6 of Intimacy vs. Isolation maintains that it is important that people develop and maintain very close and committed relationships with other people. At this step, those who are successful are able to realise better relationships in the future, while a person is a summation of relationships one has had with others.
It is also important to note that another aspect which must have spurred on Hart into being such a high class achiever is pegged on the fact that he was a strong personality. The strength of Avram Hart’s personality and character is seen in many instances. In the first instance, he braved racially-motivated racism that was leveled against him while in his elementary level of learning and instead used the opportunity for self actualization. In the same instance, it remains important to note that even after the death of his wife; Avram Hart proceeded for his PhD, and from the same University of Pennsylvania. While at it, he had conducted part of his doctoral research at the Harvard University when he still served as a Harvard Junior Fellow. The strength in his personality is seen in the fact that not only did he proceed to actualize his potential after the death of his wife, but that he carried on with academics at the University of Pennsylvania. Many people would have resorted out of the university, on the account that it is a source of emotional scar, given that it is at the University of Pennsylvania where Avram Hart met his wife.
Reactions and Conclusion: How Personal Attitudes and Feelings toward Older Adults and the Aging Process Changed or Were Affected By Completing This Project
It is not in doubt that the project on older adults has changed not only my attitude but also others’ attitudes towards the older generation.
In the first instance, I have come to realise that the old aged have a wider scope of/ on relevant matters, as far as competence is concerned. This competence is mainly underlain by the long tenure that the older adult has expended in a given field. Secondly, his competence is underpinned by the social circle that the person has drawn from. Similarly, one comes to learn that the wide scope of competence which the old aged has is not merely premised on theoretical book knowledge. On the contrary, the knowledge that the old aged possess is as a result of an amalgamation of the possessed theoretical knowledge; acquired life experiences; the values drawn from social circles; and the relevant values which come with age (such as the ability to think critically but in a composed or mellow manner).
As a matter of fact, the experience of the old aged remains fundamentally unparalleled by that of the younger counterpart. This is due to the fact that the old aged have their experience on critical concepts drawn from first hand account and experience. For instance, as a historian, Prof. Hart is able to speak about the rigors of the World War II, the Cold War and creation of the State of Israel on May 15th, 1948 because he was there. One hailing from a younger generation at the other end will have to either consult the old aged who are of Prof. Hart’s caliber or stay without such knowledge.
As Cavanaugh and Blanchard-Fields (2005) argue, the old aged also remain in possession of critical competence on professional matters, given the long stay in a given professional or career field. The truthfulness behind this is exemplified in the fact that Prof. Hart has lectured, developed and written in great lengths, different and new linguistic theories for over 60 years. This means that the knowledge acquired about a specific field is not just theoretical, but totally developed and extensively investigated over the years of practice. This is the very reason as to why all universities the world over, have a very high retirement age for university dons. In fact, most universities have their lecturers retiring at the age 80-85. Nevertheless, even after retirement, most of these aged people are still consulted. It is against this same backdrop that Prof. Hart remains the most consulted person in the US for political, linguistic, historical and philosophical views, the world over, despite the fact that he is well over 80. In fact, Hart still lectures at the MIT, full time. Through the compilation of this report, the realization of the indispensable nature of the old aged has radically and totally changed my mind towards the old, just as it proves to the career and professional worlds that to discard the old as ineffectual and dispensable is tantamount to welcoming brain drain.
The compilation of the report on the elderly also goes beyond venerating the old aged as being important in career or profession. The report is emphatic on the need to bring back the elderly into these fields. To gainsay this proposition is to only root for ageism. The average mind will place more emphasis on the idea that the old aged are too weak and less resistant to senescence too deliver. However, this is totally far from the truth. The reconsideration of the old aged into professionalism and career is mainly act as an artifice to injecting a career or a profession with relevant but rare skills and know-how but not physical manpower. Manpower can easily be obtained from the youthful personnel. Should an organization be wary of employing the elderly due to higher turnover, then that organization can resort to working with the elderly group through consultancy. This means that there is no excuse for the ostracisation of the elderly. To fail to incorporate the old aged back into the professional or career world is to leave the chasm between the younger generation (which is bereft of adequate professional knowledge) and the older generation unabridged. This will eventually maintain a culture of gradual brain drain.