Connecting the Dots at TC | Teachers College Columbia University

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Connecting the Dots at TC

Working together is our greatest challenge and opportunity

Recently, after reviewing our academic strengths here at Teachers College, a visiting scholar said, “You have so many wonderful dots—now you’ve got to connect them.”

That assessment succinctly states our most important challenge and greatest opportunity: enabling the many brilliant minds at TC to work together across departments and disciplines, so that the College can become something greater than the sum of its parts.

From TC’s inception more than a century ago, breadth has been the College’s hallmark. Our name notwithstanding, we were never just a college to prepare teachers, but also the birthplace of nursing education and nutrition education; the place where, arguably more than any other, the application of psychology to education became a field unto itself; and where education is viewed as occurring not only in classrooms, but also in homes, streets, churches, communities and beyond.

Today, the world’s problems increasingly arise from multiple origins. The education crisis that afflicts our nation and others results as much from poverty and its attendant ills as from inadequate teaching or under-financed schools and districts. Yet poverty, in turn, is perpetuated by inadequate education. Increasingly, the environment, with its impact on the food supply and health, is a barrier to stable communities and effective schools—in poorer nations, but here in the U.S. as well, as Hurricane Katrina has demonstrated. And questions relating to genetics, disease and health status, and the cognitive processes of the brain are ever more intertwined.

Teachers College is uniquely positioned to grapple with these issues, because we bring together leaders in education technology, curriculum development, policy, literacy, urban science and math education, movement science and so much more.

This issue of TC Today brings you examples of that breadth, and also of how we are linking it across fields. You will learn about how Lucy Calkins, Herbert Ginsburg and others on our faculty are collaborating with technology companies and policy researchers to create assessments of students’ abilities that are more truly diagnostic, and that can enable teachers to adapt to the needs of individual students. You’ll meet TC alumna Elaine Tagliareni, head of the National League for Nursing, the preferred membership organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education, who is fighting to expand opportunities for graduates of two-year community college nursing programs. And you’ll get an up-close look at TC’s Klingenstein Center for Independent School Education, where, in their quest to create educational excellence and equity, the nation’s top private school educators come to gain knowledge of law, ethics, finance, philosophy and, ultimately, themselves.

Taken together, these three stories are just a slice of life at TC. Still, they give you a sense of how rich that life can be—and of the potential it holds for building a better future.

Published Friday, Jan. 16, 2009