Honoring Alumni Who Educate for Social Justice
They represent a wide variety of fields, but TC’s Distinguished Alumni and Early Career Award recipients honored at this year’s Academic Festival are all pioneering educators, and they all have fought passionately for social justice.
In a citation read by her recent co-author, Ernest Morrell, TC’s Macy Professor of Education, Pam Allyn (M.A. ’88) was hailed for her fight to “make literacy a fundamental right for people around the world” and her aspiration to make “all children ‘flashlight-in-bed’ readers who are confident, understand the demands of the text, read voluminously and even read in more than one language.”
Allyn is Executive Director of LitWorld, a non-profit that cultivates global literacy leaders, and LitLife, specializing in professional development for pre-K-12 literacy teachers. She credited a succession of mentors from her parents to TC faculty such as Maxine Greene, Lucy Calkins and Robert Kretschmer with helping her to see “teaching as a way of listening and as platform for social justice.” Decrying the federal government’s plans to spend less on education and more on the military, she declared that “the best national security investment we can make is in books and teachers.”
“The best national security investment we can make is in books and teachers.” —Pam Allyn
TC Higher & Post-secondary Education Associate Professor Noah Drezner read the citation for psychologist Arthur Chickering (Ph.D. ’58), creator during the late 1960s of the “seven vector” theory of college student development.
“At a moment when college campuses were becoming, as never before, a national crucible for political upheaval and personal exploration, you provided a working bible for student affairs administrators everywhere, essential for shaping policies and programs that responded to students’ needs,” Drezner told Chickering.
Chickering recounted that a critical moment in his own exploration occurred at Teachers College, where, after listening carefully to a description of his interests, social psychologist and department chair Gertrude Driscoll advised him to switch departments.
“How rare is it for a department head to suggest that a student study something else?” Chickering said. “Gertrude Driscoll really set the cornerstone, so I thank this institution.”
In reading the citation for gender studies pioneer Madeline Heilman (Ph.D. ’72), Caryn Block, Associate Professor of Psychology & Education, noted that “workplace discrimination against women is as evident as climate change, yet – as in the latter field – science is essential to refute the deniers, convince the skeptics and educate us all.” For the past 40 years Heilman, Professor of Psychology at New York University, has provided that science, Block said, above all demonstrating that “inequity stems from stereotypes of women that are prescriptive as well as descriptive.”
“I wish to continue TC’s glorious tradition of making a world of difference in Taiwan’s education, and I hope to fulfill President Fuhrman’s expectation for TC: to promote our social justice mission in such a way that education becomes the solution.” —Tian Ming Sheu
Heilman acknowledged her debt to her TC mentor, the late Morton Deutsch, who “taught me to be not only a good but a courageous researcher.” Early in her career, she recalled, she was warned that pursing gender studies would be “the kiss of death.” “But Mort said to study what I had a passion about, so long as I did it well.”
Reading from the citation for Tian Ming Sheu (Ed.D. ’93), President of Taiwan’s National Academy for Educational Research, Bill Baldwin, Chair of TC’s Department of Organization & Leadership, said that “clearly a renaissance man is leading Taiwan’s education renaissance.” Sheu, whose expertise spans education psychology, school finance and management, Chinese literature, and mindfulness meditation, has repeatedly warned that East Asian countries, though stellar aggregate achievers on global assessments, have performance variations between and within their schools that are more pronounced than those in other countries.
“I wish to continue TC’s glorious tradition of making a world of difference in Taiwan’s education,” said Sheu, “and I hope to fulfill President Fuhrman’s expectation for TC: to promote our social justice mission in such a way that education becomes the solution.”
Vice Provost for Student Affairs Tom Rock read the citation for Early Career Award recipient David Flink (M.A. ’08), Founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of Eye to Eye, a mentoring movement run for and by people with LD/ADHD. Rock described Flink as “a visionary who imagines a world where all learners will be recognized and empowered to succeed” and “a leader on the front lines of the emergent learning rights movement.”
"I wish every person in this room could have the feeling of incredible people believing in you, respecting you and listening to what you have to say.” —Leticia Guimaraes Lyle
Flink, the author of Thinking Differently: An Inspiring Guide for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities (HarperCollins 2014), recalled his astonishment when, as a TC student, he wrote to philosopher Maxine Greene and she responded with an invitation to dine at her apartment.
“She was going to feed me,” he recalled thinking. “My mind, my soul and my lunch.” The invitation was repeated and the two subsequently met many times. “She was saying to me, directly, ‘I’m not going to be here forever, but life is long, and your job is to continue your work.”
Early Career Award recipient Leticia Guimaraes Lyle (M.A. ’11) was praised by Britt Hamre, Lecturer in the Department of Curriculum & Teaching, as “an emerging international leader in the field of Social and Emotional Learning [SEL], which helps young students work collaboratively by developing their ability to recognize and manage their feelings, act with concern for others, and confidently face challenges.”
Lyle is Director of Curriculum and Teacher Development at Somos Educação, Brazil’s largest basic education company, and has founded three organizations focused on social and emotional competencies development and research. The recipient of a Lemann Fellowship for her contributions to Brazilian public education, Lyle is actively involved in the development of Brazil’s newly proposed common core standards – a topic she chaired a panel on earlier in the day.
“We have to reconnect with ourselves to be great teachers and face our biases,” Lyle said. “With my amazing TC peers from all over the world, I was able to find a space to feel safe, show my true colors, dive in and give a voice to those left out. I wish every person in this room could have the feeling of incredible people believing in you, respecting you and listening to what you have to say.”
Published Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017