Edmund W. Gordon is a respected scholar, an expert in education, one of the founding fathers of the Head Start program, the premier Black psychologist of his generation, and an emeritus professor at two Ivy League schools, who published 18 books. Gordon turned 100 last June, an age at which most people would have retired or passed away. But not him.

For a long time there has been debate about how schools and other educational institutions can help children thrive; Gordon thinks that families, more than teachers, are the best suited to set the course of their children's life, and that it's important to improve high-quality developmental experiences for kids raised in well-resourced and stable households. The principle is that the strongest determinant of a child's well-being is family structure and stability, so if your parents can afford it you will probably be well educated, healthy, and out of trouble.

According to Gordon, the Head Start program was built to compensate and enrich what is not happening enough at home. The school system needs smaller classes in order to create more interaction between more and less mature students, as well as better materials.

When asked what is the secret of being so smart, healthy and engaged at age 100, Gordon says that he would like to know, but there are some hints. He married when he was 26 and his late wife, Susan, a physician and pediatrician, kept after him on his diet, made him eat the proper food, and was insistent about exercise. This shows all the value of a great wife.

Picture: Edmund Gordon (TC Archives)