Robert Gardner (academic)
Robert Gardner (born April 4, 1938) is a Scottish Canadian television writer, director and producer. He is a professor emeritus of Ryerson University, having served three times as Chair of the School of Radio and Television Arts before retiring in 2003.
Early life and education
Dr. Robert Gardner, BAA, BA, MA, EdD was born in Parkhead, Glasgow, Scotland on April 4, 1938 to Robert Gardner and Jean Cooper Gardner. His siblings were twins, ten years his senior. The late Irene Gardner Keeney became an award-winning journalist for her work at the Albany Times Union, and Jean Gardner Cole, MS is a respected specialist and trainer in child development associated with the Brazleton Institute as a Trainer Emeritus in the Harvard University Medical School. Dr. Robert Gardner attended Newlands School, Riverside Senior Secondary, and - during a period of time in East Africa - the Eldoret Hill School in Kenya. In 1951 his family emigrated to Simcoe, Ontario, Canada, where he completed high school at Simcoe Composite School in 1956. He married Anna Maria Galuppi in 1961 and had three children: Robert Edward Gardner Junior, Andrea Maria Gardner, and Jared Joseph Gardner.
His entire childhood was spent in a working class district of Glasgow within a short distance from Celtic Park, the soccer field. He was raised during the shortages of the war years and experienced the bombardment of Glasgow by the Luftwaffe and the necessity of staying, night after night, in bomb shelters next to the tenement buildings. He was part, too, of the exodus of young children from the city centre to the surrounding countryside to escape the possibility of further German air attacks.
The bleak post war years were relieved by an unexpected and extensive stay in Uganda, then part of British East Africa. Suddenly he was in a world of servants, large homes, and an exclusive private residential school in Kenya. Glasgow seemed like a dour world in comparison to colonial Africa and the family decided to emigrate to Canada in 1951. In quick succession he experienced industrial Glasgow, colonial Africa, small town Ontario, and then he was to move on to writing professionally for television, teaching, academic administration, and ever lengthening visits to provincial Italy.
Robert Gardner Senior graduated from the School of Radio and Television Arts at the Ryerson Institute of Technology in 1959. Although his studies were financed, in part, by his parents, Gardner contributed by winning scholarships, bursaries, and by working as a writer/announcer at a small, Simcoe-based, AM radio station (CFRS). He later noted that his Ryerson studies provided him with a career and the funding to continue his formal education. He earned BA and MA degrees in English literature from McMaster University (while at McMaster University he was awarded an Ontario Graduate Teaching Fellowship) and a doctorate in education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. His master's degree thesis (Adaptation of Works of Literary Merit to the Film and Television Forms) was supervised by the film scholar, Professor Graham Petrie, Faculty of English, McMaster University. The Doctoral thesis (Structuralism and Procedural Knowledge as Keys to Understanding the Dramatic Form), was supervised by the dramatic theorist, Professor Richard Courtney, Department of Curriculum, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. In 1972, when Ryerson evolved into Ryerson Polytechnic University, Gardner was awarded a Bachelor of Applied Arts degree (BAA )in Radio and Television Arts.
Gardner began his career as a writer and producer at CHCH-TV in Hamilton, Ontario when he graduated from Ryerson in 1959. After a period of time as a successful commercial writer he began to create cultural documentaries. He was still in his twenties when his work began to be recognized by major awards. Titles of his documentaries included The Mood of Quebec (winner of the Bronze Fleur de Lys from French Language Broadcasters), The Great Adventure (dealing with Kenneth David Soble's plans for the urban renewal of Hamilton, Ontario), An Eye for Eternity (The international fine arts exhibition at Expo 67 in Quebec. Jeremy Brown, then the TV critic for the magazine, TV Guide, called the program "A magnificent achievement"), The Face of a Leader (the race for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party), The Enigmatic Knight (The story of Sir Allan Napier MacNab and Dundurn Castle), This Man, This Prime Minister, This King (the story of Canadian Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King) and Biographer to a City (The story of the Hamilton Spectator).
In 1969, while he was serving as a sessional faculty member teaching film history to graduate students at McMaster, he was invited to teach part-time at Ryerson in the School of Radio and Television Arts. He joined the full-time faculty at Ryerson in 1972 and was, almost immediately, appointed the Vice Chair of the School. In addition to his teaching and administrative duties he continued to write, produce, and direct cultural documentaries, including Prophecy (the winner of a Gold Medal at the Atlanta International Festival, featuring Canadian actor, John Colicos), The Canadian Film Awards (writer/researcher), Dante (writer/researcher, working with Lister Sinclair at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), Leave this Not to Cain, narrated by Pierre Berton and produced by Canadian broadcaster, senator Betty Kennedy, The Prophet from Pugwash (nominated for a Canadian Film Award), A History of the Canadian Labour Movement, Insight with Betty Kennedy, and The Great Chinese Exhibition (video taped in Stockholm, London, Toronto, and Paris). In the early seventies he attended Marshall Mcluhan's media workshops in the University of Toronto's Centre for the Study of Culture and Technology. As a complement to his academic studies in dramatic theory he worked as a script reader with the Canadian Film Development Corporation analyzing and deconstructing scores of film scenarios. In 1978 he had been appointed Chair of the School of Radio and Television Arts. In addition to his academic leadership duties he was asked by President Walter Pitman to conduct a university-wide study on "The Cyclical Renewal of Electronic Equipment" in Schools which had a strong technological base. Dr. Gardner completed his three-year term as Chair and took two years of academic leave to complete his academic studies at OISE and to pursue freelance writing and production activities in the media. He successfully defended his doctoral thesis dealing with the nature of the dramatic form in 1983.
In the mid eighties, strongly influenced by his readings in the work of Dr. Maria Montessori and experiential learning, he completely transformed the curriculum for the television production program. Instead of arid studio exercises he permitted students to select from a pool of dramatic scripts (written by students in his writing program). Further they were encouraged to form their own production groups, assign tasks to their fellow students (as crew, directors, performers, and technicians), and schedule the available production resources. The result was an increase in participation, creativity, and self-imposed discipline.
In the eighties he ventured into the print advertising field and, working with a prestigious advertising agency, Parson Associates in Toronto, Dr. Gardner designed successful print brochure campaigns for The National Ballet and the Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 1994 he was re-appointed Chair of the School of Radio and Television Arts at what had become Ryerson University. Under his academic leadership RTA sustained and improved its position as a "flagship program" within the university.
Utilizing his theoretical studies in dramatic theory, he created an innovative writing program as the Head of Media Writing. Students came into greater contact with actual practitioners of dramatic writing and a process was established where the work of students would be adjudicated by professional writers in Canada and the United States. As a specialist in curriculum design he was commissioned to create intensive courses for adult learners. This resulted in the course of study for Canadian Women in Communications, a program designed specifically for the Canadian Department of National Defense, and (in concert with his colleague, Professor Charles Zamaria) a curriculum for Heritage Canada. In his work for developing an intensive media course for ethnic minorities he was awarded the Ziniak Award. His activities in developing curricula for media training was recognized by the Hancock Award. Dr. Gardner carried out consultancies for the Bahamian Government, Victoria College (University of Toronto), the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Ontario Educational Communications Authority (to examine Public Affairs programming) and the Foundation for International Training on site in the former Yugoslavia. He devised an Internship program that became a model for self-management and which permitted maximum autonomy to the students who chose this option. In the eighties he and his wife began to spend extended periods of time in the town of Larino, Molise, Italy. His research into the history of the town and his development of a comprehensive web site entitled, Larino: The Miracle of the Molise led to his being awarded "The Silver Wing" (Ala D'Argento), an honour normally only bestowed on exceptional citizens of the community. In the nineties he researched and wrote a series of articles for Playback featuring prominent Canadian and American writers, including multiple Academy Award-winner James L. Brooks, Paul Haggis, Michael Weiss, Al Jeans (both Producers and writers with The Simpsons), Peter Mehlman of Seinfeld, and others. He began a series of visits to Los Angeles to meet with prominent writers on location. Other assignments for TV Ontario (The Ontario Educational Television Authority) were The Academy on Modern China, A Question of Justice (Co producer, script editor, and EFP director), Today's Special (Story editor, EFP director), Aspects: The Drama as Meaning (Director/Producer). Dr. Gardner's unprecedented third term of administrative duty as the leader of RTA's communications program at Ryerson was in the period from 1999 until 2003. Upon his retirement he received the title, Professor Emeritus, Ryerson University. He was the first graduate of the RTA program to become the Chair of the School and he was the longest serving (as Vice Chair and Chair) senior administrator of the School of Radio and Television Arts, Faculty of Communication and Design.
In retirement Dr. Gardner has continued to write. He was hired as a contract editor by Oxford University Press. In 2011 he was commissioned by Clanmore Montessori School to act as an educational consultant and to write a series of articles on education. The articles, The Maria Montessori No One Knows and Maria Montessori in India were published, on line, by Dialogue Magazine, a journal serving private and independent schools in Canada. His experiences in academe and in southern Italy are reflected in his novel, Conversations in Paradise. In 2012 he reworked his doctoral thesis to make it more accessible to the general public in a text book titled, Teaching Dramatic Theory to Writers, Teachers, and Students.
- Plain People. Researcher, writer, director. The story of the Mennonites. (Niagara Television Limited, 1963.
- Music and the Kids. The story of music studies at Interlochen. (Niagara Television Limited, 1963)
- Drugs in the Schools. An investigative documentary. (Niagara Television Limited, 1963)
- This Man, This Prime Minister, This King. A biography of MacKenzie King, the long-time Prime Minister of Canada. Director, Producer, Writer. (CHCH-TV, 1965)
- The Mood of Quebec. An in-depth analysis of Quebec's "Quiet Revolution". Director, Writer, Researcher, Co Producer. (CHCH-TV, 1966)
- The Enigmatic Knight. The strange story of a rogue who became a gentleman, Sir Alan Napier McNab, the builder of Hamilton's Dundurn Castle. Researcher, Writer, producer, director. (CHCH-TV, 1966)
- The Hamilton Spectator: Biographer to a City. The history of Hamilton, Ontario's daily newspaper from its beginnings to the present day. Researcher, writer, producer, director (CHCH-TV, 1966)
- Braithwaite. An exploration of the life and ideas of the great Globe and Mail entertainment columnist, Dennis Braithwaite. Researcher, writer, director, co producer. (CHCH-TV, 1966)
- The Great Adventure. Executive Producer, Kenneth David Soble. Exploring Canadian philanthropist and broadcaster, Kenneth David Sobel's dreams for the urban renewal of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Robert Gardner, writer, researcher, director, producer. 1967.
- The Face of a Leader. A documentary reviewing the lives and ideas of the candidates for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party. Researcher, writer, producer, director. (CHCH-1967)
- An Eye for Eternity (A Study of the International Fine Arts Exhibition at Montreal). Hosted by Betty Kennedy. Ninety minutes. Robert Gardner, Director, Producer, Writer. (Niagara Television Limited, 1967)
- Leave this not to Cain. An analysis of the plans to create a "mid-Canada corridor". Sixty minutes. Narrated by Pierre Berton. Robert Gardner Writer/researcher. (Kennedy Horizons, 1969)
- Dante. An exploration of the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. Sixty minutes. Writer, researcher. Produced by Lister Sinclair. (CBC, 1970)
- Aspects: The Drama as Meaning. Prominent Canadian actos presented a variety of scenes from classical plays for academic analysis. Series. Robert Gardner Writer, researcher, co-producer (with Dr. Norman Rosenblood), and director. (TVO, 1970)
- Prophecy. Ninety minutes. Producer, writer, director. (The Ontario Educational Communications Authority, TVO, 1971)
- Travel Analysis. Three thirty-minute programs set in London, Paris, and Vienna. Robert Gardner Co Producer, researcher, writer, director. (Global Television, 1971)
- Insight with Betty Kennedy. Series. Executive Producer, Betty Kennedy. Robert Gardner, director. (TVO and Kennedy Horizon, 1972)
- Through Lies of Silence, Towards the Citadel Two one-hour programs. Series in the history of the Canadian labour movement. Producer, writer, director. (TVO, 1972)
- This Vibrant Land (Featuring Canadian Artists). Thirty minutes. Writer, director. (Kennedy Horizons, 1972)
- The Great Chinese Exhibition. One-hour program. Dealing with the movement of a collection of precious antique art over three continents. Robert Gardner Researcher, Writer, Director, Producer. (TVO, 1974)
- The Canadian Film Awards. Writer/researcher. (CBC, 1977)
- The Prophet from Pugwash: The Story of Cyrus Eaton. Produced by Carol Moore-Ede Myers. Narrated by Colin Fox. Featured guest: Nelson Rockefeller. Writer/researcher. (CBC, 1978)
- Wuthering Heights. Dramatic episode for children. Thirty minutes. Robert Gardner Writer, researcher, director. (TVO, 1978)
- Today's Special. Series for children. Multiple programs. Thirty minutes. Executive Produced by Professor Clive VanderBurgh. Robert Gardner, Head Writer, EFP director. (TVO, 1981)
- Between the Lines. Featured columnist for Playback Magazine in series of articles dealing with prominent writers. (Brunico Communications, 1993–96)
- The No Name Show. Starring Jim Codrington and the Canadian comedy group, The Frantics. One pilot. Robert Gardner, Head Writer. Ted Regan, Executive Producer. (TVO,1984)
- Riddle of Wizard's Oak. Robert Gardner Creator, Head Writer, Co Producer. Educational Series for children. (TVO, 1984)
- A Question of Justice. Series. Four one-hour programs. Co-producer, Story Editor, EFP Director. (TVO, 1994).
- Larino, il Popolo. Writer of preface of collection of ancient sayings and songs of the people of Larino. Written by Aristide Vitiello. (Vitiello, 2004)
- Larino, Larino, La Bella Citta`: Conversations in Paradise. A romantic novel published by Lulu and distributed by Apple Ibooks, Barnes and Noble, Google Books, and Amazon (Lulu, 2009)
- The Maria Montessori No One Knows. Article for Dialogue Magazine. (2011) Written in Dr. Gardner's capacity as a consultant for Clanmore Montessori School.
- Maria Montessori in India. Article (the second of a two part series, for Dialogue Magazine. (2011) Clanmore Montessori School.
- Maria Montessori: A Hero to Educators and the Most Important Woman in History. Article for Dialogue Magazine (2012)
- A Review of The Absorbent Mind. Written for Dialogue Magazine, a publication for educators. (2012)
- For Student Success, Schools Must Look Below the Surface. Feature article for Dialogue Magazine (2012)
- Teaching Dramatic Theory to Writers, Teachers, and Students Book published by Lulu (2012).
Awards and honors
- 1959: Diploma, School of Radio and Television Arts, Ryerson Institute of Technology.
- 1966: BA, English Literature, McMaster University.
- 1966: Bronze Fleur de Lys, awarded by French Language Broadcasters for the documentary, The Mood of Quebec. Researched, written, and directed by Dr. Robert Gardner.
- 1967: Ontario Graduate Teaching Fellowship to the Faculty of English, McMaster University.
- 1967: MA, English Literature, McMaster University.
- 1968: Appointed as Sessional Faculty Member to teach Film History (while Professor Graham Petrie was on sabbatical leave) to graduate students in the Faculty of English, McMaster University.
- 1971: Gold Medal, awarded by the Atlanta International Film Festival for Prophecy, written, produced, and directed by Dr. Robert Gardner.
- 1972: BAA, Radio and Television Arts, Ryerson Polytechnic University.
- 1973: Selected as Vice Chair of the School of Radio and Television Arts, Ryerson Polytechnic University.
- 1977: Appointed Chair of the School of Radio and Television Arts. (FIRST FULL TERM AS CHAIR) Selected by a committee of students, graduates, faculty members, and senior administrators of the University.
- 1978: Nominated for a Canadian Film Award for the writing of the CBC documentary, "The Prophet from Pugwash".
- 1983: Doctorate in Educational Theory (EdD), Department of Curriculum, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/ University of Toronto.
- 1985: The Silver Birch Award. Recognizing the commercial documentary, Tiem, written and researched by Dr. Robert Gardner, produced and directed by Ted Regan.
- 1994: Appointed Chair of the School of Radio and Television Arts, Ryerson University. (SECOND FULL TERM AS CHAIR) Selected by a committee of students, graduates, faculty members, and senior administrators of the University.
- 1998: Awarded a grant of $200,000.00 by CTV to enhance the media writing curriculum at Ryerson University. Later, with the assistance of Professor Jerry Good, $100,000.00 was directed to the establishment of twenty $5,000.00 scholarships for accomplished indigenous men and women who were already in established careers in the media.
- 1999: Ruth Hancock Award, "for contributions to the field of media through education" Canadian Association of Broadcasters
- 1999: Appointed Chair of the School of Radio and Television Arts, Ryerson University. (THIRD FULL TERM AS CHAIR) Selected by a committee of students, graduates, faculty members, and senior administrators of the University.
- 2002: Sierhey Khmara Ziniak Award, "for contributions to multiculturalism in education" Canadian Ethnic Media Association
- 2007: The Silver Wing Award, (Ala D'Argento) "presented by the Community of Larino, Molise, Italy, for outstanding service to the Town" Larino
- Strauss, Marise (2003-03-03). "Ryerson RTA website to aid screenwriters". Playback.
Ryerson University's Radio and Television Arts program has launched an innovative website for aspiring screenwriters, the byproduct of years of painstaking research by RTA chair Dr. Robert Gardner.