What's in store for the School of Education? What will our next 50 years look like? Six of the School of Education's seven deans sat down together for a discussion.
Here are a few highlights from their conversation:
Xiao-lei Wang, Acting Dean, 2015–Present: It’s so important to educate the young people about where we’ve been and where we are going. On a general note, the School of Education is doing quite well. I’m very focused on keeping an “outward mindset” in our community—the idea that you should put your energy into helping those around you. I strongly believe that if the School of Education is to be successful, our community must work together. The idea of “how can I help you first” is a powerful one. If we focus on the positive, we’ll have a positive culture here.
It’s important that we continue to evolve our programs for students—to keep them excited. We are looking at the possibility of an education minor. There are other students who might want to add a minor in education and also the possibility of getting a teaching degree without going into education—for people who perhaps work in human resources or in museums, or a host of other professions. We are also starting a study abroad program next semester.
Frederick Bunt, Dean, 1966–1983: I think one of the most unusual things is the general climate of public education–this push for charter schools, issues of racism, and how do you deal with guns in schools? There are so many problems that you have to address nowadays when you are teaching teachers. Our students need realism and the proper tools to teach in schools today. Are our current courses addressing these issues? I feel strongly that we need to make real changes in our curriculum—changes that address the changes happening in our schools.
Andrea (Penny) Spencer, Dean, 2010–2014: Teachers nowadays deal with extremely diverse classrooms. Is our program effectively equipping our students with the tools to deal with the diverse challenges they face?
David Avdul, Dean, 1983–1994: What we need in education, if not a revolution, is a radical change. I think we should focus a great deal more on our urban context. I think the urban focus is critical to what the School of Education can do. Let’s look at Yonkers, Mount Vernon—we need a sense of discriminating partnerships. We should identify our relationship with other places. We must speak to an urban environment, thus speaking to urban issues, then we really need to confront the notion of change in education… and think in terms of how creative can we be. I think community is an absolutely necessary condition. We give attention to the concept of community and be as creative as we can in the urban context.
Jan McDonald, Dean, 1995–2006: I agree with David about community. When there’s a feeling of connectivity around feelings of social justice, you can attract kids who want to save the world to come to the School of Education.
AS: These are the people who need nurturing who will go out into those urban settings. It’s so important that we teach future educators to see people with their struggles as people. People who are struggling to make life better for themselves. What are the communities like where these kids are coming from.
DA: If this isn’t a “place of belonging,” kids will have difficulty, whether in Yonkers, Scarsdale, or NYC. “School in Community” was my favorite course to teach. Schools are communities so there’s a sense of commonality that you belong here and that we are going to help you learn. We must be serious, substantive, and discriminative. In our society, it’s education, it’s business, family, and religion. We need to make our schools meaningful. Let’s focus on leadership in the classroom.
Harriet Feldman, Interim Dean, 2006-2010: The School of Education’s faculty really needs to get out in those arenas.
XW: We need to influence policymaking and look at our faculty going to New York State. We need to educate the policymakers.
For additional photographs from this evening with the Deans, please visit our event post on Facebook here: http://bit.ly/2hBKSJy