About Ernest L. Boyer
Ernest L. Boyer, Sr.
A Leader of Educators, An Educator of Leaders
1928 - 1995
Hochstein said, "Emie was a practical visionary. He advised governors, presidents, and world leaders on the issues and particularly the details of education, and in my view was the most influential educator in America in this century. Of course, it was a privilege, an honor, to work by his side."
DR. BOYER PASSED AWAY on December 8, 1995. During his valiant three-year struggle with cancer, he never stopped working. He took telephone calls the day before he died. Despite his pain, he told his brother Paul, "he felt more intellectually alive and productive than he had for a long time." Indeed, Boyer always had a "zest for life," Paul Boyer added, "and the courage and spirit he displayed in the last few weeks will always remain an inspiration."
Ernest Boyer's life work was dedicated to the American ideals of public education. When he died, President and Mrs. Clinton expressed the sentiments of the many thousands he had reached: "This nation has lost one of its most dedicated and influential education reformers. Ernest Boyer was a distinguished scholar and educator whose work will help students well into the next century. ... The greatest tribute that we can pay him is to carry on the work to which he devoted his life: to bring down the barriers that prevent our young people from succeeding and to ensure that each of our citizens has an equal share of the American Dream."
It was while working on The Basic School, which he regarded as the capstone of his work, near what would be the end of his life, that Ernest Boyer discovered a quote from the Jewish leader Abraham Joshua Heschel that so well expressed his own feelings that he used it to conclude his book. Heschel, when asked what message he had for young people, replied: "I would say,'Let them remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity. Let them be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power, and that we can-very one-do our share to redeem the world in spite of all absurdities and all frustrations and all disappointments. And above all, remember that the meaning of life is to build a life as if it were a work of art.""
Ernest L. Boyer lived by this philosophy, and his life will live on in our memories as an inspiring work of art.(1)
(1) Robert K Greenleaf, Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness (New York: Paulist Press, 1976), 250.
Re-printed from the Ninety-First Annual Report of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, June 30, 1996, with permission of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 5 Ivy Lane, Princeton, New Jersey 08540