Larry Paros

Innovator, Educator, Writer


During one of the most turbulent times in the history of our nation - the mid 1960s, high-school students from the Greater New Haven CT. area overflowed the 600 seats of the Yale law school auditorium-participating in a unique marketplace for the free exchange of ideas.
Topics ranged widely-from race relations, the plight of the cities, poverty in America, contemporary sexual mores, the role of protest and dissent, individual liberty v. national security, and the limits of censorship, to foreign policy: the cold war, our relationship with Cuba, the war in Vietnam; and the arms race.
Students were exposed to widely divergent points of view on the most pressing issues of the day, presented by some of the most prominent thinkers of the time. They were provided with the opportunity to assess those perspectives and encouraged to formulate their own.
Speakers came from across the political, spectrum — dozens of national figures, such as William Sloan Coffin Jr, Julian Bond, Senator Wayne Morse, Noam Chomsky, on the left and Professor, H. Bradford Westerfield, and the members of the National Review, such as William Rusher and Brent Bozell, on the right.


That was then and this is now. Perspectives concluded in 1968. It is now more than half a century later. And things are very different. There is an information glut, but little of substance; plenty of talk, but little real conversation. What fills the air instead is a series of angry, disjointed monologues. Whatever happened to the oft-promised but never held conversation on Race?

Where is the discussion on America's role in the world? Where is the opportunity to hear from and engage directly with those in power, let them know what we are thinking and hold them to greater accountability-to confront their choices and their words in an open national forum. Where is that forum? The public is starved to know the real issues before them. And no group is more famished and frustrated than the young.

In the wake of Perspectives, a major controversy ensued, around the teaching of such issues. For more about that controversy, as well as the origins of this remarkable program, its dynamics and consequences, and the need for such an effort today-get your copy of "Dancing on the Contradictions."