William Glasser’s Themes & Ireland’s Trinity College

Although I have visited many museums around the world and have visited impressive libraries such as J.P.Morgan’s private collection in New York City, the New York City Library, and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., I was not prepared for the emotional response I had visiting the Long Room at the Library of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

I was in this interesting city to speak at the William Glasser European Conference on the topic, “Using Glasser, Covey, Deming, McGregor, and Maslow to Promote Responsible Behavior and Learning.” The presentation was on my article published in the Fall 2004 issue of the INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF REALITY THERAPY. Reality Therapy is the name of the pioneering work by William Glasser. The psychology profession categorizes his approach as cognitive psychology—a type of therapy that is becoming increasingly popular.

Dr. Glasser, a psychiatrist by training, has had a significant impact on education starting with his book, SCHOOLS WITHOUT FAILURE. He took his counseling approach to schools in the form of classroom meetings. A few fundamental characteristics of Dr. Glasser’s approach—which are also a foundation to my discipline and learning system—are:
(1) noncoercion,
(2) taking responsibility for one’s behavior,
(3) focusing on the future—rather than spending time on the past attempting to determine the cause of behavior since the past cannot be changed, and
(4) the critical importance of good relationships.

The Long Room in the Trinity College Library is adjacent to the display of the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells contains a magnificently illuminated Latin manuscript of the four gospels produced by monks on the Island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland and sent to Dublin early in the 8th century when Vikings invaded the island. Trinity College itself was founded by charter of Queen Elizabeth in 1592 to establish a Protestant institution of higher learning in Ireland.

The Long Room runs to 65 metres in length (almost 3/4 of an American football field) with two floors of stacks, each 20 shelves high. No description could do justice to my experience of seeing so many thousands of books, many hundreds of years old. Much of the American heritage has its origin in the souls of these books. Perhaps my study of Irish, Scottish, and English migrations to the U.S. Colonies made this particular visit so meaningful to me. But if you ever visit Dublin, treat yourself to spending time at the University of Dublin’s Trinity College Library.