Faculty voice:

Robert Floden: How educators can be the change

Robert Floden is a University Distinguished Professor and dean in the College of Education. The following Faculty Voice is an excerpt from Dean Floden's letter to the college community following the recent anti-Semitic attack in a Pittsburgh.

To help restore faith in the places where we live and work, I encourage each of us to model kindness, compassion and empathy for one another.

After our initial responses of sorrow and sympathy for those directly affected [by the shootings in Pittsburgh], I ask you all to think about what you can do as educators to restore norms and civil discourse and behavior that have been eroded in recent decades.

How can you help our students, who are preparing to teach and care for others? How can you ensure that our students know what resources, such as counseling services, are available to help them as they are affected by such tragic events? In the spirit of community, I urge us to explore these questions together and share strategies across groups.

Recently, I attended a reflection space organized by college leaders Lynn Paine and Dorinda Carter Andrews and am thankful for their leadership in this effort. My own thoughts were about how troubling I find the increasing tribalism and partisanship in our country, and elsewhere around the world.

I wish that schools did more to help students learn to engage with others on contentious and difficult issues. I also wish schools would do more to help students understand the history of struggles with injustice, here and abroad, learning from past events as they take actions to make the world a better place. Those who attended the reflection space appreciated having the chance to talk about their reactions and thoughts about how to work with others on ways forward, personally and professionally.

The coming weeks will allow us more opportunities to collectively explore how we do our best work as educators during these times. College leaders, including Drs. Paine and Carter Andrews, are discussing what next steps to take and welcome your input.