Len Harris, founder of Educational-Partnerships.org, was born July 31, 1923, in Newbrunswick, New Jersey. At 4 years old his family moved to Houston, Texas, and started up a hardware store, in which Len spent the next sixteen years of his life working after school and on weekends.
Len entered World War II in 1943 and trained in the U.S. Army Infantry. While waiting to be shipped overseas, there was a very shocking experience: Some fellow trainees complained about having to fight Hitler when they felt that what he was doing, getting rid of the Jews, was a great idea. That’s when Len thought something was missing in our educational system. Couldn?t education do a better job of improving our respect for humanity? This was the beginning of Len’s concept to improve education; to combine Creative Relating with Experiential Education.
After serving two-and-a-half years in the Army Signal Corp, he completed two years of college at San Francisco City and State Colleges and at U.C. Berkley Extension in California, majoring in Sociology and Psychology. While working in construction for 43 years, he maintained his passion in education and group dynamics by promoting community projects.
By the 1960’s, in order to promote greater voter intelligence on social issues. he organized 14 open discussion groups, meeting weekly in homes, connected to local radio that sponsored vital issues. He developed shared leadership (instead of one discussion leader) comparing it to having an informal social group in your home. It worked better than a dictator controlling the discussion. He insisted that extreme views be respected. An exciting forum of democracy was generated. He would like to do it again using TV and other mass media to champion a healthy exchange of diverse views.
MONOVIN, Mostly Nonverbal Institute, was another amazing project in which Len shared how to use simple gestures to communicate while using sounds (even music) and special movements. People were surprised at how much they could communicate without talking. It generated an exciting new kind of humor. Working with developmentally disabled children including some considered autistic, he motivated positive interactions. Even with a deaf kid, the responses were unusually positive.
He founded YOUTH INITIATED PARTNERSHIPS INTERNATIONAL (YIPI) (formerly a 501 (c) (3), non-profit educational organization) and developed a project outline, Communication And Negotiation Skills (CANS) as a friendly user guide empowering students to motivate adults to share their creativity.. At 86 years, almost, old he hopes to turn his passion in education into a full-time job.
He did teach for a few years in the Los Angeles and Santa Monica Unified School Districts as a volunteer. He believes that we need to provide a process in education that can enable all students to develop their potentials for life enhancement in partnerships with peers and adults. In his website are a few of his articles he offers as potentials for achieving a better education and a better world.