Education: Learning with a Shovel

The new garbage man was in the midst of emptying a trash can outside a ranch home in Calverton, Md., when a woman in a housecoat and apron appeared at the kitchen door. The garbage man, who had known her several years earlier, ducked behind a gate. "If my cover had been blown there would have been publicity," he reasoned. "People would have recognized me and the whole thing wouldn't have worked."

The "whole thing" was an attempt by John R. Coleman, 51, a former Ford Foundation executive and now president of Haverford College, to break what he calls "the lockstep"—the educational...

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