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Danny Pliskin

One, two, three,
Look at Mr. Lee,
Three, four, five,
Look at him jive.
- The Bobbettes

Childhood ought to be a time of innocence or at least allow us enough time to experience it in some sustained way. Innocence is the deep forest of the soul, pure exploration, no thought, and I had plenty of this growing up on Village Road in the Eisenhower years. That was vintage, rambling innocence. Throwing a baseball or football around, for hours, with no agenda and no noise.

Grauer Varsity and Junior Varsity Teams Playing Their First Game Of The Season - January 18, 2019

But across the hedgerow was the dark red, shingled house of Danny Pliskin. Up in his attic workshop, Danny had tools for anything you wanted to fashion and I started to see you could create your own, legit world. And we learned of beatniks, and body parts, and of course stuff about girls. The Pliskins were artists, and atheists, and we heard they were communists and had a sense of what that all meant without ever being told. We learned of jazz music and the players in dark, smoky places doing the jive, and dances going on in those places that seemed alluring but dangerous. And when we crossed back through the hedgerow for a grilled cheese sandwich lunch, we could tell that Mom didn’t really need to know much of anything of our netherworld.

Grauer senior Bennett P. soldering electric guitar parts in Guitar-Building Class - January 18, 2019

Danny sprinkled me with a “world” of intellect, subconscious, and infinity, not all of which I made the best use of for some years. He was Eddie Haskell and Maynard G. Krebs (look ’em up), but today he might be a punk or rapper, or a snapchatter.

Every child needs one. Who’s your Danny Pliskin?


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Fearless Teaching Book


Fearless Teaching is a stirring and audacious jaunt around the world that peeks—with the eyes of one of America’s most seasoned educators–into places you will surely never see on your own. Some are disappearing. It is a bit like playing hooky from school. You will travel to the Swiss Alps, Korea, Navajo, an abandoned factory in Missouri, the Holy Land, the Great Rift Valley, the schools of Cuba, the ocean waves, and the human subconscious—oh, and Disneyland.

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Grauer’s writing reminds us that
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Richard Dreyfuss, Actor, Oxford scholar, founder of The Dreyfuss Initiative


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