By Ana Moreno and Toni Gallemí
All the ones who got to know Bob agree on his great qualities as a thinker, educator and friend, but we really know very little about his life before TBL. What was young Bob like, what about his youth? How did he get his start in thinking? How did he contribute to the improvement of education in the world?
Bob was born in 1936 into a devout Jewish family in one of the oldest towns in the United States, Sandwich, Massachusetts, he liked to say that he grew up by the sea. Since he was a child and later a teenager, he loved to ask questions about everything and also to think. At the age of 13, after the celebration of his Jewish coming of age, he decided to stop practicing, although in a certain way, he always felt linked to the history of the Jewish people. He explains that while on a trip, he wanted to visit the Red Sea and that he was moved by remembering the passage in the Bible, when Moses leads his people through the waters. A bit later, his parents moved to Boston and he attended the Boston Latin School, the oldest school in the country. From there he entered Harvard, where he studied philosophy and, a few years later, received his doctorate at the same university. He also studied for a time at Oxford and Cambridge in England and took the opportunity to hitchhike around Europe. One day he met another traveler who was on his way to Spain and asked him: “What’s in Spain?”, to which the traveler replied that “in Seville there is a fair”. So he went with him and fell in love forever with the country. Although he said he was not cut out for marriage, he married twice and from the first marriage had two children; Jen, as he called her, and Alexander. He worked at several universities, starting at two of them the philosophy department. He finally retired in 2002 as professor emeritus from the University of Massachusetts.