Dr. Edmund W. Gordon, the namesake and founding team member of the Edmund W. Gordon Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School, has served many roles over the course of his 80-year career: psychologist, philosopher, educator, social scientist, civil rights leader, public servant, author, mentor, and minister. He’s also been a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
On the occasion of Dr. Gordon’s 101st birthday, we continue to honor his singularly wide and deep influence on education and civil rights. As a founding father of Brooklyn Lab, Dr. Gordon helped our school bring his ideas about equity and justice in education to life. He has deep thumbprints on everything we do as a learning community, and Dr. Gordon’s mentorship and educational concepts have shaped Brooklyn LAB practitioners’ approach to their work and how we implement our Key Design Elements.
But his influence in education has extended far beyond our school. Like his mentors, W.E.B. Du Bois and Alaine Locke, Dr. Gordon is one of America’s most distinguished public intellectuals, a champion for equity in an era of inequality. Dr. Gordon has influenced hundreds of thousands of teachers, school leaders, academic researchers, and policymakers, revolutionizing how educators teach and how schools deliver the effective and just educational experiences every student deserves.
One of Dr. Gordon’s primary areas of focus has been on the positive development of underserved children of color. He has spent decades examining the state of education in America, and where it’s falling short, creating theories and frameworks that have made pedagogy and curriculum more responsive to the needs of students from all walks of life.
Thanks to Dr. Gordon, we now have a public education system that recognizes the strengths of every community and family, and attempts to harness those assets to meet students where they are and build their strengths.
An Exhibit Celebrating the Legacy of a Living Legend
Dr. Gordon’s work is as relevant today as it was when he started his career in the early 1940s.
As a culmination of our Centennial Celebration, our school community is preparing to share an exhibit to celebrate the legacy of this living legend. As we finalize these materials, we will share them within our school community and beyond.
The forthcoming exhibit celebrates Dr. Gordon’s life and work: where he came from, what inspired him, and the big ideas that Dr. Gordon put forth, which continue to shape a vision of American education at its best—a just and equitable system that serves the needs of all students.
The exhibit unpacks the tenets of Gordon’s applied and theoretical research about life, education, and epistemological thinking—approaches that led to the creation of Head Start and other social educational programs designed to provide equal access to quality education.
The heart of this exhibit explains several of Dr. Gordon’s key education concepts, including: educational resilience, compensatory education, affirmative development, supplemental education, intellective competence, and assessment for learning. These approaches will influence educators for generations to come. We also share case studies from Brooklyn Lab and across New York City—real examples of how our school has become a living laboratory celebrating, building on, and honoring Gordon’s impactful work.
Dr. Gordon’s ideas have inspired our journey, and we hope they inspire yours.
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