Seriously. Decent. Unpretentious.
When I think about Jonathan Haber, who died An unexpected heart attack last week are the first words that come to mind.
Jonathan, who wrote columns for EdSurge among his many pursuits was a great thinker, both in education and in life.
Recent author of the book Critical thinkinga topic of great interest to him, Haber made significant contributions to various important educational projects.
He co-founded SkillCheck, a provider of appraisal solutions and insightful design, given today’s lack of qualifications, which he later sold. Among other classes related to education, Jonathan consulted with HarvardX; was a founding member of the Woodrow Wilson Graduate School of Teaching and Learning, which is reinventing teacher training; and helped pedestrian crossing tens of thousands of math and English standards in different states for the IMS Global Learning Consortium CASE Network.
Most recently, I linked Jonathan to my friend and co-author on paper. “Failure of the Faculty of Law”, Vilanova law professor Michelle Piston to help her with educational design for The online program she has now launched is related to immigration training for lawyers.
I knew that Jonathan would succeed – and the result would be a wonderful partnership. And it was easy logistically because Jonathan was my friend and neighbor here in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Jonathan was incredibly proud of his two sons. When I came to the conclusion that much more students should take one year in my book Choosing a collegeof which Jonathan gave an early review, he proudly informed me that one of his sons was on holiday a year – and Jonathan loved to inform me of that year of discoveries while walking the Minuteman bike path.
These updates were not just a compliment to proud parents. These were updates from a man who pondered deeper questions about how the world works. He sincerely tried to understand the trends, currents and causality.
During our conversations or at a meal with husband and wife, I never heard Jonathan say anything negative about another person, even if there was something to say.
And he was quite unpretentious – so much so that I think it was often easy for others to underestimate his vast talents and contributions.
Jonathan helped me to understand much more deeply the field of critical thinking – and how best to teach it. He shared with me his frustration with the lack of rigor in teaching critical thinking and what he considers an “osmotic” way of teaching. More importantly, he wanted to do something about it and was constantly looking for the best way to influence.
As a sign of his bigotry in helping people think critically, he wrote about how to help people better recognize political arguments as voters and how we can improve the level of discourse in our country. He launched LogicCheck– like the facts that are so popular in newspapers today. And he gave me a couple of copies of his book on voter criticism, which may have been a good idea that I needed to learn myself.
A few days before I learned of Jonathan’s death, I read in the local news about a local project his wife, Carolyn, was working on, and realized I needed to contact him to announce that my upcoming book, From Reopen to Reinventmuch is quoted from his work in the third chapter.
I also thought about how he invited my whole family over for dinner. Due to the warming weather and the deepening of our understanding of COVID, I thought that perhaps we would finally be able to accept it to his generous offer.
At Jonathan’s funeral, the rabbi said that Jonathan’s sons, Eli and Benjamin, had learned to argue skillfully with their father. They emailed him essays with evidence to back up their arguments. Jonathan returned the volley in the same way, with full respect for their point of view.
Although I do not promise to follow this example, I will try to live in his spirit: deliberately teach my daughters the skills of critical thinking – and respect not only their position, but also the intellectually and emotionally capable people they are.