Lessons in human relationshipsRichard D. Solomon teaches...


Lessons in human relationships

Richard D. Solomon teaches the fourth R -- relating.

AHe consults about it, teaches it (at Loyola College) writes about it and holds workshops on the subject.

The 50-year-old Columbia resident taught human relations for 1years at Glen Burnie High School before he and his wife, Elaine, still a psychology teacher at Old Mill High School in Millersville, formed the National Institute for Relationship Training in Columbia.

"I've been a consultant since 1986, but I've been in the relationship business since 1965, when I became a teacher," says Dr. Solomon, a New York native who has a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. "Teaching is the ultimate relationship business. If I can't communicate what I know to students, it's really a loss."

Now he teaches older students: educators, doctors, police officers, hospital administrators, nursing home staffers -- members of almost any organization that involves people working together.

"I define relationship skills as the social competencies people need to communicate with each other," Dr. Solomon says. "At Glen Burnie, I used to tell my students the No. 1 reason people lose jobs is inability to get along with their boss. You have to learn how to listen, how to cooperate."

Even when he takes a break, he's communicating: He's cantor at the reform Temple Isaiah in Columbia.

A baritone, he studied voice four years at the High School of Music and Arts in New York.

He's also written three books he describes as "manuals ocommunication."

His most recent effort is "Handbook for the Fourth R, Volume III: Relationship Activities for Cooperative and Collegial Learning," a page tome.

Relationships must have become more complicated. Volumes I and II both were shorter in length and title.

"I thought after the first volume I'd said all I possibly could say," he says. "But there's always more."

Christine Gray is an archaeologist of a different sort.

She digs up obscure black plays written before 1930 that are not musicals. "These are so valuable," says Ms. Gray, an African-American literature instructor at the University of Maryland College Park and Baltimore City Community College.

She wants to dispel the myth that "banjos and watermelons" were the only focus of vintage black plays.

"They show American history, and they have been so neglectedWhen we talk about American drama, we are usually talking about white drama."

Ms. Gray is putting together a collection of such plays for her dissertation. She is concentrating primarily on black playwright Willis Richardson, who wrote 46 plays. She already has two publishers interested in her work.

She began her research by digging up old newspapers and magazines that blacks were reading in the 1920s. She spent much of her research time getting "down and dirty" on library floors reading old materials.

So how did a white woman become so focused on collecting black drama?

She developed an interest in America's race relations as a child. "I was raised in the country in North Carolina, where black children and white children played together," she says. However, when she went into the city, she noticed that blacks and whites were forced to use separate facilities.

And drama is something that young folks can learn from. She feels young people can easily relate to these plays because they're so accustomed to seeing drama on television. And she likes the idea of developing young audiences for old plays: "These plays are true American artifacts, and they need to be preserved."


Sandra Crockett

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