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Looking back and looking ahead: Founders Day

On its 105th Birthday, Teachers College never looked better.With the remodeled Main Hall and new rooms to meet today's social and technological demands, Teachers College celebrated its vast history and looked toward its bright future.

On November 13, 1999, Teachers College celebrated Founders Day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with speakers such as Edmund Gordon, former faculty member, nationally renowned clinical and counseling psychologist, research scientist, minister and author; Arthur Levine, President of Teachers College; and Maxine Greene, Professor Emeritus. All throughout the day, guests visited other areas of educational interest like Morton Schindel's Media Mobile and the library's exhibit on Soviet Ukrainian Education. Some guests visited the two rooms and the Main Hall ramp dedications.

A swing band situated outside of the Horace Mann auditorium inspired the guests to do the Charleston, a return to the earlier days of Teachers College. Peter Cookson, Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Center for Educational Outreach and Innovation, used a slide show to introduce "The Courage of Conviction," commentaries on the past, present and future by Maxine Greene and Arthur Levine.

"Teachers College is the quintessential American Institution which captures what is really good about this country in terms of optimism and its belief about the future," said Cookson. "It is idealistic, pioneering, inventive, believes in community, future-oriented and just a little bit eccentric."

Greene participated and talked about many different events both in history and at the College and how they are interrelated. "When I think of tradition, I think of the college moving from philanthropy to the serious effort to induct all the young to be served by public schools into an industrial and democratic society,"said Greene. "Teachers College cut a swathe through the century's history."

"Signal moments in our tradition," Greene said, can still be looked at and will make some difference in what lies ahead. She remembered how she first heard about TC within the context of New Deal liberalism in the 1930s.

Her memory then shifted to the sixties-Greene remembered the ongoing civil rights movement, the beginning of the women's movement, and the "revolution" of 1968 that included the taking of buildings on the Columbia campus.

"Mistakes were made, but people were committed," Greene said. "But for all that, the values, pursuits of possibility, remained alive here in these classrooms and must remain." Greene found that people today don't believe in causes anymore and urged the audience to not forget earlier struggles."All sorts of questions are left open," said Greene, "we ought to confront, at least some of them, now. This is because they are the questions which have identified the College over the years. They can still feed into our identity in the changing and sometimes unrecognizable new world."

Levine said that the future looks much like the past. Teachers College will continue the same historical legacy and mission. "TC needs committed activists, committed to the same ideas our founders were committed to."The heroes at TC have never been people who lived in ivory towers. They are people that "put their prints on this world to make it a better place," said Levine.

He said that TC continues to do critical research on educational development issues and educate leaders on what needs to be done to make schools better.

"Education is the slowest way of changing the world, but also the most effective," said Levine.

"The purpose of TC now is to cleave the values of social justice and provide leadership we have providing for the last 100 years," said Levine.

The seminars throughout the day focused on some of the features of this changing world and how they relate to the past. The "Legacy of John Dewey" led by René Arcilla consisted of a panel discussion with Professors Judith Burton, Maxine Greene, Ruth Vinz and René Arcilla. Each speaker shared thoughts regarding Dewey's legacy in education. Greene said, "John Dewey was not a guru. He was just a great philosopher and that makes us nervous."

In his address, Edmund Gordon defined pedagogy and how the definition needs to be modified in today's society. He said that education needs to rethink its instruments of assessment and encourage students to learn in new ways.

Some new ways of learning include technological resources. In "The Impact of Technology in Schools," Robert McClintock, co-Director of the Institute for Learning Technologies, demonstrated through its Web site, the initiatives it has taken to improve community and public education.

With all these new tools and ideas, educational policy has to change. Thomas Sobol, Christian A. Johnson Professor for Outstanding Practice at Teachers College, led an interactive session with TC students and presented them with an educational policy scenario.

Leading a panel of reporters from The New York Times, The Daily News and The Newark Star Ledger, Gene I. Maeroff, Director of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, focused on the responsibilities of the media and the influence of the media on educational policy in "The Media and Education."

Parked on 120th Street, the colorful Media Mobile, which evolved from the bookmobile concept, provided a unique multimedia environment. The Media Mobile is the brainchild of TC Alumnus and the Founder and President of Weston Woods Institute Morton Schindel, who greeted guests.

Guests could also browse the library's exhibit on Soviet Ukrainian Education: Children's Art and Life in the 1930's. Created by average art students, the display showed both the principles of art education and civic training.

Upstairs in Milbank's Resource Center, Muriel Feldshuh's Young Readers Millennium Quilt was displayed. Each square of the quilt was designed by a children's book illustrator such as Kevin Henkes, Anita Lobel and Steven Kellogg.

The Rita Gold Early Childhood Center and The Goodman Family Computer Classroom were dedicated as part of the celebration.

The Early Childhood Center, originally founded in 1982, has been known as the Center for Infants and Parents. Thanks to donations from the Golds, the Center has been expanded to include an on-site toddler center.

The Goodman Classroom is designed to get computers out of the way of the people, by providing tables that can be arranged into shapes conducive for group work.

At the end of the day, the Main Hall entrance and ramp were opened to the public. "We are building a new future, literally," said Levine. After the ribbon was cut, all the guests sang "Happy Birthday" to TC.

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