Today’s Photo Friday post shows Ernie Boyer conversing with two educators at the 1973 seminar for the Aspen Institute, an international nonprofit organization focused on educational and policy studies. Every summer for 12 years Boyer chaired this seminar.
Even during the summer months, Boyer worked diligently to improve education as it relates to both the welfare of the individual student and the nation as a whole. Such continuous work was not only a touchstone of Boyer’s career but also a recurring theme in his writing and speaking. Boyer argued in a speech at the 40th anniversary of the Aspen Institute seminar that the factors that affect student learning are continuous, even during the summer when there is no school. He stated that:
A recent Harvard report on hunger in America unequivocally concluded that a child who is nutritionally deprived will have a lower IQ, shorter attention span, and get lower grades in school. And yet- isn’t it ironic that at the very time there is an ‘urgent push’ for better schooling in this country, the federal child nutrition programs are shockingly underfunded… If the nation wants better schools, we simply must become more compassionate and more caring about our children, especially the least advantaged. This brings me to priority number 2. To have better schooling the country must give more dignity and more status to our teachers. If this nation would give as much status to first grade teachers as we give to full professors that one act alone would revitalize the nation’s schools.
Today, even though the school year is winding down, students’ daily experiences- including activities as simple as eating- still affect their ability to learn. There is no off switch when it comes to learning. For this reason, all people have a responsibility to guide students and to be compassionate towards them. Later in his speech, Boyer states that we can do this simply by giving “notice” or recognition to each student. If we desire to be a nation with a strong educational system, we must actually support the students who are a part of that system. By doing so, we can accomplish what Boyer hoped for. We can empathize with teachers and understand the important roles they play in our society- that they shape those individuals who will shape the future by being educators, facilitators, role models, assessors, planners, and much more.
Today’s post not only demonstrates the relevance of Boyer’s words; it is also a way of saying thank you to the many teachers across the country for their hard work this year. Lastly, it is a call for those who read this post to invest in the lives of our youth, as the task of teaching is never done- even during the summer.
To read the rest of Boyer’s speech, click here.