I grew up at — as I mentioned — at Columbia University, which happened to be a university — and especially a physics department — dedicated to doing a good job in teaching. And so we had that tradition. We were teachers, we taught. Sometimes, if you were very busy in a laboratory, you could get off a semester, but then you’d have to teach twice as much the next semester. And we didn’t object to that. We liked that idea, and I was trained with that. And you’re always teaching. You’re teaching graduate students in combat, and you’re learning from them. Teaching is always a teaching/learning process. If you don’t learn when you’re teaching, then you’re not doing it right. So teaching was a big thing for me from the beginning.
When I left Columbia to become an administrator of a large laboratory, I started suffering withdrawal symptoms. You know, twitching, and saying, “Gee, I got to teach something.” And so I started bringing in high school kids to teach them things. And then I learned that they were themselves, very frustrated because high school teachers often couldn’t handle bright kids. Little by little, one thing led to another, and I got into looking at the whole educational structure. And so I did a lot of work with gifted kids, on the one hand, out in the boonies of the state of Illinois, and then I moved to Chicago about four years ago, and began to be interested in what we could do about a public school system in a large city.