John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education

Just Look Around

John N. Gardner
President

One of the best jobs in the world has to be just talking with students. For those of us so fortunate as to be working on college and university campuses, there are so many opportunities to talk with students. And there are so many things we could be talking to them about!

Are you talking to them about the perfect storm of natural and human made disasters that have converged in Japan? We could not find a more compelling example of the potential downside of technology. If this doesn’t shake your faith in technology, what will it take?

Are you asking the students why they think the response so far of Americans to charities to aid the Japanese is so much lower than American giving responses to the earthquake victims in Hawaii just over a year ago?

Are you asking your students what they think of the spectacles in the three legislatures of Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana where one political party is attempting to take away hard won rights of organized labor which have been evolving for over century in our country? Why should our students care about the affected workers rights in these three states?

Are you asking the students to reflect on the powerful illustrations of global interdependence we have seen since the earthquake in Japan disrupted the global supply chain?

Are you asking the students what they are thinking about the proposed programmatic cuts being focused upon my our Congressional representatives? What stake do our college students have in the programs being targeted for cuts, such as Head Start, Planned Parenthood and National Public Radio?

One of the most important things I learned in college was that the questions are often more important than the answers.

If the students aren’t talking to and with you, who are they talking to?

And who do you want them to be talking to?

If they are not talking with you, there is a great chance they are going to finish college untouched by our process. What a waste that would be.



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