As Berkeley questioned existing values and mores, challenged the dominant paradigm, and raged against the machine in the 1960s and 1970s, we explored alternative education with alternative learning and teaching styles.
A. S. Neil’s Summerhill was widely read and his free-range approach to education was the golden standard of the counterculture. Berkeley High opened the Community High School as a Very Alternative school within the school. Co-ops popped up, there was the Blue Fairlyland Nursery School, and the Early Learning Center, Kilimanjaro, and Odyssey.
And there was the Maybeck High School.
In 1972, Renaissance Man of the Ages Stan Cardinet and a small group of teachers from Saint Elizabeth’s High School in Oakland (where he had been teaching) started Maybeck with 17 students. They met each morning at the campanile, wandered, and found a place to learn.
They moved into shared quarters at the Trinity United Methodist Church on Bancroft, which also housed the Free Clinic and various services for the homeless. Maybeck is now in shared quarters at St. John’s Presbyterian Church on College. It is as alternative as ever.
At both campuses, the school administration has encouraged student mural painting. In fact, murals painted by Cardinet himself still grace the walls of both campuses.
Here are most of the others. Some have been painted over – art is not eternal – over the years. But check out the creativity here!
Check out the hot air pineapple. The pineapple is the Maybeck High School mascot. Of course.
In this mural, a student renders many of Maybeck faculty as characters in Star Wars.
Here Trevor Cralle poses next to the rendering of him. Trevor was our guide. For many years he was director of admissions. He now teaches outdoor/physical education. He leads wonderful trips.
He wrote one of the greatest slang dictionaries ever – Surfin’ary. He observes there that surfer slang terms of general approval are the same terms that one would use to describe a good breakfast cereal. We’ve been friends for almost 25 years.
If the murals were not sufficiently creative, there are also student-made tiles.
Doesn’t this just cheer you up? It cheers me just to know that Berkeley still cherishes and nurtures creativity, with alternative learning and alternative teaching – and these excellent murals. Of dear old Berkeley!
It is tempting sometimes to dismiss some of the things that we tried in the 60s and 70s and just hippie crap. Maybe a little bit of it was, but buried in there were wonderful ideas and efforts. A friend went to a “hippie school” for several years. It was a good thing. They were good years.
I showed my friend the draft post. He has been busy preparing a slide show about his trip to Detroit. He plans to have a few friends over for tea and slides. And a coffee cake from Virginia Bakery – CLOSING – OH NO!
What does he think of the murals at Maybeck?
“Freedom, not license.”
“That’s the motto of Summerhill school.”
Good, what about the post?
Great murals, great art! So thankful for creative people!
Wonderful photos, thank you for this. I worked at Maybeck for 25 years from 1978 to 2003. I was the Business and financial administrator. Only staff member who did not also teach in the earlier years. Knew Stan and Trevor well. My three kids attended there between 1979 and 1987. Wonderful memories. The former art teacher, Sue Matthews, should be acknowledged too! She coordinated most of the mural “classes” . She is terrific with art!
I am so happy to see this again! Great!
This is Sue Matthews. I was the art teacher at Maybeck from 1977-2012, when most of those murals were painted. We had a lot of fun, and I think the murals really gave the upstairs at Trinity a unique flavor that attracted kids to the school. We did a mural program every four years, allowing time for each painter to graduate before her/his mural was painted over. We voted on which ones should stay. Some of the earliest ones remain to this day. The figures from Bonampak were covered over by lockers for about 15 years. Its nice to see them again! We also did wonderful, unique ceramic tiles. This process begs the question: What is it that makes people want to save a particular artwork? I am glad to revisit those artworks. I am now teaching at College of San Mateo.