A great and good man

The only credentials I offer are my law degree from UCLA, my experience as a state legislator and political activist, and my bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UC Berkeley.

As to the latter, it doesn’t sound like much, and it isn’t, except for the fact that I had the great good fortune to study under Professor Jacobus tenBroek, the smartest man I ever met.

He was a law professor at the Boalt School of Law, located on the Berkeley campus.  He taught one undergraduate course a year, and I was fortunate to get in it.  Only sixty students got to take it, because Professor tenBroek didn’t lecture.  He used the Socratic method, and everyone in class was a participant, rather that a spectator.

TenBroek, completely blind since childhood, came to class with 60 separate 4×6 cards, each containing the name of a student in braille.  He’d finger through his deck, find a student he wished to interrogate, and called upon them to answer a question.  Your answer was followed by another question, and another.

TenBroek himself took no position on the political theories that we discussed.  He wanted everyone to come to their own conclusions.  I absolutely loved it.  I had never been exposed to a mind like his.  My own political convictions were based on shallow thinking.  Ten Broek forced me to justify them, intellectually..

A year after I graduated I got in some trouble.  My mother asked me who she could turn to for help.  The only person I could think of was Professor tenBroek.  I wasn’t even sure he’d remember me.  But when my mother called him, he did remember, and he did help me.  He died just weeks later,

A great man, but more importantly a good one.

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