Gary Carter was the missing link from a successful 1984 season, when the Mets finished second to the Chicago Cubs. In the winter of that season, they acquired Carter from Montreal, and he provided the upward streaming the Mets needed.
Now, Carter is dying of malignant brain tumors. He was accomplished, but New Yorkers already miss what else he may have done.
Not long after his induction into the Hall of Fame, he was managing successfully in the Mets minor league system, and he was criticized for being too overzealous about the chance to manage the Mets at the major league level.
Maybe the Mets were right to not have Carter manage the big team. He is too much of an icon to Met fans. If he had to be fired at some point – and ultimately all managers do get fired - it would have created an awkward situation similar to the uncomfortable way that Yogi Berra was let go by the Yankees in 1985.
Peggy Noonan once wrote that people missed Ronald Reagan, even when he was still alive with Alzheimer’s disease. He was with us, but he was still someplace else. The same is true for Carter. People miss Carter because he will not get to achieve whatever he was about to accomplish, but it would have been great.
Don’t Just Innovate, Motivate
How many students read books...actual books?
Among the high school students in New York City, there are a lot of them who score well in the reading comprehension section of tests. Scoring well on reading exams, however, is not the same as reading actual books.
A friend and professor of constitutional law recently explained that the books he recommends on his class syllabus were the books that advanced his understanding of politics. He also said that he did not read them when he was in college.
“It was quite possible to get through a graduate program without reading very many actual books,” explained this Berkeley graduate.
Feeling shortchanged, he set out to read the important volumes of de Tocqueville, Louis Hartz, and Forrest McDonald. This is not easy reading, but if a professor from a prestigious graduate program did not feel that he read enough books, how many of our high school students read enough?
His story was interesting, especially since I did the same thing after graduating Fordham University. Realizing that I had read virtually none of the classics, I made a list and began reading after graduation.
Philosopher Richard Rorty once wrote that the most important reading is what a teacher or professor feels has moved them. I followed this rule by posting booklists for my students at the college level when the semester was finished. All voluntary reading, and yet students began to ask when to expect the new list.
How do we get students to read books at the high school level? They already have enough assigned reading and exams. Experimental programs where students have been paid to read have worked well.
Maybe a public education system cannot give students cash in order to read books, but there is a way to pay kids through gift cards, online gift certificates, and other benefits in a program that would be totally voluntary. Students who agree to read certain books and answer a series of basic questions would be incentivized to read again.
There is no beauty in that reading. It is boring, and short, and nobody cares about the reproduction of an earthworm. We need to innovate and motivate.
Electronic books are a great idea, and so are incentives. It is time to show rewards, immediate rewards, for effort. We live in a day of instant gratification, and we need to steer education in that direction as well.