The keynote address is offered in memory of Bobby Fong (1950–2014), who was president of Ursinus College and Butler University and played a key role in the founding of NetVUE.
THE PARADOX OF EDUCATION AND THE CALL TO BE AGENTS OF CHANGE
In 1963, James Baldwin delivered his famous “A Talk to Teachers” (originally, “The Negro Child—His Self-Image”) to an audience of educators. His words are still relevant to the educational environment of today, which is being called to address generational poverty, inequity, and institutional racism—what Baldwin called being “born in the shadow of the stars and stripes.” Baldwin spoke of “the paradox of education”: that education is designed to socialize one into the basic structure of society as it is, yet it is also designed to make students into critical thinkers. What does that contradiction mean to Black and Brown college students who are observing the ugliness in the worlds from which many of them come? How does this paradox shape their process of discernment of their own callings, and those of their peers of all races, to address the needs and hopes of those worlds? How are we, as educators, being called to create an environment that refuses to socialize students into the structures of inequity and oppression, instead preparing them to expose, criticize, and change those structures? This is a time for educators, whom Baldwin called “those who deal with the minds and hearts of young people,” to become agents for societal change—and to help students discern their own paths for doing so as well.
Chair: Vivia Fowler, President, Wesleyan College (GA)