“What the pupil needs are not text books but text people.”
Rabbi Abraham Heschel
My friend Bob Davis left this earth on Feb 22.
The following Globe obit sketches the essential details of Buffalo Bob’s meaningful life.
William Robert (Bob) Davis Canadian education thinker and activist William Robert (Bob) Davis died vacationing in Cuba February 22. Born June 11, 1934 to late Aubrey Acheson Davis and late Bishop W.W. Davis (Helen Davis), Bob was a larger than life innovative educator. In the 1960s he co-founded Everdale Place school community and This Magazine is About Schools and later Mudpie Magazine. He was active in teacher politics and developed an engaging, effective teaching of working-class and racially diverse students. Founder of The Spadina Road Tabernacle Band, Bob brought to life a unique Canadian justice-oriented musical culture. He authored books on education, music and politics.
Bob always wore his great cowboy hat so years ago I dubbed him “Buffalo Bob”. We met in the early 80s as he was engaged in critical curriculum work in the public school system, similar to my own work in Catholic education.To me he was the quintessential public educator.His life was also a living text, an open book which reflected the liberation perspective of the many courses he taught in both high school and university.Maybe his most amazing feat was developing and teaching a Black History curriculum as a white man. Such was his deep sympathies for those on the margins of history.
Bob never stopped thinking and writing about what teaching is all about.
How ironic and fitting that he dies in Cuba visiting places of the Revolution.And reading Malcolm X’s biography.Man that was a fitting exit for the Buffalo man. Education as liberation.
To me Bob was a master teacher, always listening, reading, thinking, revising and caring about those with little voice.He was also a regular member of my “communion of saints”, a fellow traveller on the Kingdom road of peace and justice.
How fitting as well to have a funeral on Oscar Romero Day at Holy Trinity Church, Trinity Square, Toronto Eaton Centre, 3 PM March 24.