Please share your thoughts, memories and stories about David Tyack here by adding a comment.



5 comments on “Guestbook

  1. I had the pleasure of working with David for almost 20 years, and what I will most remember is both our far-ranging discussions on politics, history and nature, and how interested he always was in other people’s thoughts and opinions. To his extended family, I hope that the many good memories provide peace and comfort in all the days to come.


  2. David Labaree Comments at David Tyack Memorial Service

    November 19, 2016

    Today I’d like to say a little something about David Tyack the scholar and David Tyack the man.

    Among the many things I admired about him as a scholar, I’d like to focus on two in particular. One is that he refused to let himself be easily categorized. Unlike many academics, he never allied himself with a particular ism. He was never interested in being a camp follower or in developing his own camp followers. Instead he made his work broadly accessible, careful not to drive away potential readers. It certainly helped that, consistently and defiantly, he wrote with clarity and grace, avoiding the jargon and the showy professionalism of the high-horse academic.

    In addition, I loved the way he approached the history of education with a certain sunny irony. His work was illuminated by his liberal values but never blinkered by these values. He showed us how efforts to create the one best system and to manage for virtue all too often led to unintended consequences that were unhealthy for both school and society. And he was able to examine the silences in this history, the things that should have happened but in fact did not. Centuries of fervent efforts to reform schools often fell short or boomeranged back on the reformer. Why was that? In the middle of the 19th century, when the sexes were trapped in their separate spheres, public schools somehow institutionalized the coeducation of boys and girls in the same classrooms, and it happened without a peep of protest. Why was that?

    And then there was David Tyack the man. Again, let me mention just a couple of characteristics about him that I particularly admired. One was his enormous generosity to people. There were his students, whom he used to lead on long walks in the foothills, in order to enjoy nature and also to talk about ideas. There were his colleagues, whose work he both supported and took very seriously. Ray McDermott once told me that David could give you tough feedback on a paper you wrote while still making you feel good about it. Only later did you find your intestines spilling out on the floor in front of you. And there were total strangers. Invite David to dinner with people he never met, and he would get into a series of deep discussions with the guests, drawing them out and engaging with their ideas.

    One last thing I valued about David was his ability to make and maintain close friendships – a real rarity in this world. I can remember warmly the honor I felt when he first started closing his emails to me with the simple but powerful phrase, “Your friend, David.” There was indeed no better friend you could wish for.

    This is the David Tyack I remember – the scholar and the gentle man.


  3. David was a great man who understood our place in nature and the moral value of human institutions. I learned much from him. I wanted to share a newsletter article that I wrote (with Yosemite climber Ron Kauk) about a visit we had to the valley in 2011 – pictures from that trip are included in the article:
    in which he shared a poem that he wrote:


    Bristlecone pines cling to chalk cliffs expecting
    fire to scatter seed over charred ground.

    Redwoods shoot their green sprouts up dark canyons
    toward the filtered sun.

    Trees have gifts for living.

    But girdle the tree and cut the cambium’s ever-circling flow,
    and dead it will stand, erect awhile in central core, but
    browning from decay.

    He shared his insights and concerns in so many different ways besides his academic writings – through song, through poetry, through adventures. He was a great model for how to live our lives.



  4. When I arrived at Stanford as a new assistant professor, David and Elizabeth were exceptionally generous and welcoming. David was cleaning out his office in Cubberley, then. Every other day he would come by with a box of books or some pictures for the wall to see if I wanted them. We spent a lot of time digitizing the images David had collected from his lectures on the history of education. I’ll never forget David’s wonderful commentary about the photos and cartoons he had gathered over the years. We viewed the images using his old slide projector, which only David knew how to work.

    For me, David and Elizabeth were Palo Alto’s welcoming committee. They showed my husband and I the best places to walk our dog. And they listened and offered such amazing insights as we walked. Half of the time an idea I was mulling over was something one or both of them had written about many times over the years. And yet they were always patient, always encouraging a younger friend to trust her own voice. This intellectual generosity, I now see, was typical of the wonderful way David and Elizabeth nurtured friendships, especially with junior scholars. They will always be a model for me of what a socially engaged life of the mind looks like. Their memory also consistently reminds me how central listening is to teaching.


  5. Josh Tyack Comments at David Tyack’s Memorial Service,

    Dave Tyack lived his life surrounded by a strong community of family, friends, colleagues, and countless students whose lives he touched. As his oldest grandchild it is my pleasure to describe a few of the countless ways he impacted his grandchildren. However, after reading so many of the touching stories written by those who knew him, I realized that there are few things I can say that you would not already know. The endless curiosity, patience, and love of the outdoors. The awe for the act of learning. The way he always treated us as serious individuals with important ideas and opinions. How he listened and interacted with us with patience, insight, and enthusiasm whether as an eight year old who just discovered an amazing new historical fact or one of his advisees at the peak of his or her educational attainment. His generosity of spirit knew no bounds. Granddad was always more than a father, a grandfather, a collaborator, or a teacher. To anyone who spent time with him he was a friend.

    I will always remember discussing the world (all the while pushing myself to keep up) on long hikes. Or the way he would casually mention an extraordinary adventure he experienced, from being practically homeless and hitchhiking across the country, to working on the GM assembly line, all during his summer breaks from school. His grandchildren will always remember searching for buried treasure, which of course would invariably be chocolate coins that somehow remained perfectly preserved on the beaches of Half-moon Bay for centuries. And I will always remember how I excited I was the first time he trusted me as his confederate to hide the treasure for my younger cousins.

    But what I may remember the most is the look of joy and enthusiasm that you could always see on his face. When sharing his favorite vista on a hike or when I was able to introduce him to his first great grandchild last spring. He taught us to see the joy and beauty in the world around us. He never failed to show us in countless ways what a special, fragile, and beautiful world we live in.


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