It's amazing how fast an academic year goes by. It's as though we live on a slightly smaller planet, where all the cycles are compressed into nine months instead of 12. As the warm weather finally arrives and the rest of the world is just beginning to stretch its legs, here we suddenly are, rushing to write papers, complete projects, say goodbyes and plan next steps. At any school, that makes for an unsettling time - but perhaps even more so for us right now here at TC.
Over the past several weeks, we have announced the hirings of a new Provost, Tom James, a new Vice President of Finance and Administration, Harvey Spector, and the addition of a new coordinator for our efforts in New York City schools, Nancy Streim. We have learned that we will be saying goodbye to Joe Brosnan, who has so ably headed up TC's Department of Development and External Affairs for the past 12 years. And of course, our students, as always, march on.
With all these comings and goings, it's reassuring to reflect that in the nearly 125 years since TC was created, its people have remained connected to the College, throughout their lives and in many different ways. School may be an artificial environment - not "the real world" - but when we leave, we continue to follow its curriculum and live its lessons, perhaps more consciously and with more determination than we did when we were there. We are still, in a word, matriculated.
The kinds of questions we ask; the tools we employ to seek answers; the people we turn to for advice and help-'"all of that stays with us, whether we find ourselves facing 20 public school children across a desk, or working in a neighborhood hospital to teach people how to change their diets, or - like me - back here at TC, trying to gear the school for the next decade of preparing future educators and researching the answers to challenges they will face.
All these processes, and all the people in these various roles, are connected, and together we are all part of the single fabric that I like to think of as the extended Teachers College. The newest graduate teaching out on the front lines is carrying with her a century of wisdom and best practices accumulated by all those who have gone before her. At the same time, she's seeing things and experiencing a new reality that no one else has yet encountered, and, as part of our community, she brings that knowledge back to us, reshaping our understanding of what's important. The technology wizards in our midst are building on cognitive precepts identified by scholars who died before there was an Internet - but they're also changing our understanding of what cognition is and can be. And so on, with all our people.
That, for me, has been the beauty of returning here and taking up the charge once again of envisioning, with so many others, education's possibilities: the sense of timelessness, of connection, of progression along a continuum. Yes, we are all busy, and it's absolutely true that there is so much to do and so little time to do it in. But as we finish our rush through the busy days of our condensed spring here at TC, let's not forget to pause a moment and remember that we're part of something bigger that moves at its own pace. And that, no matter where we go and no matter what we move onto next, it will always, in some very deep-seated sense, be here to come back to.
Published Wednesday, May. 9, 2007