Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Graduation speech

Dear colleagues, honorable professors, friends and supporters,

We are, I believe at the beginning of a new Era. A place in time when we don't operate only in the confines of our national boarders, a time when information travels with the speed of our brain connections, when all scientific fields have shown a deeper development and interconnection than ever before, when technology changes behaviors and societies, when the world becomes a village, when human behavior becomes a product, when peace and wars become products, a world still full of troubles, but more conscious of past mistakes?

In the context of this changing, high speed, global environment, we are now placed in Romania, Iasi, a town of 320,888, with over 5 universities and much more than 60.000 students per year. We are proud of our University, the oldest and one of the largest and most prominent in the country.

What is the role of this institution? What would be my role as a teacher? What is the best way for me to do that? In which way do I influence my students? What is the external need in society that I am fulfilling? It's been four years since I've started my University studies, and in these years, except for the case of one individual I really did not feel in any way these questions were pondering in my teachers minds...

For a country and a town in continuous transition and development, that are struggling for qualified human resources, for foreign investments for covering EU funds, for keeping pace with the world, I did not feel at any point the intention of our teachers to provide leadership.

The term is foreign language to both students and teachers.

Teachers prove no basic knowledge of how adults learn. I sometimes felt like being in a primitive cave where the supposed leader of the group tried to draw a carving on a wall to teach the others what good food is...Teachers coming to classes with courses that look incredibly similar from one year to another dictating them as in reading them or sometimes having a free monologue...No need of other need of brain activation, no need of individual opinions, no need or no conception of actually teaching a student a lesson while in class not them teaching themselves 1 day max before an exam...

No intention whatsoever of developing practical skills, of doing more than spending some time and delivering some oral info that can be easily found on the internet. No need for being an example..a mentor, a coach. We are however proud to have such honorable scientists, such highly appreciated intellectuals...too intellectuals to teach the same language, too intellectuals to step down from their cloud of superior knowledge and do their jobs.

Not for the money, not for the status , not for the power, not because they do not know how to do anything else...but for growing independent capable individuals, that can shape the world we live in..that can determine their grandchildren and great grandchildren lives. I felt no sense for this urgency..I felt very little passion for what is supposed to be one of the most important roles in society.

The paradox is that all the teachers I've met during these years are quite smart individuals, however, in spite of that, political games are more important than teaching well, self sufficiency and intellectual narcissism are greater than changing a student's perspective, having a personal talk, giving advice. How can intelligence, corruption, self sufficiency, ignorance, incompetency and many other terms work together to provide leadership for society?

On the other hand I must admit I might have a clue of where their disappointment is coming from. I'm standing here next to my colleagues at the end of our what is supposed to be our "getting ready for life period". However, very few of them, even those with the highest grades have any clue about what they are going to in the next months, 1 year or 5. Not even a vague image of a vision. Most of them don't really know themselves. They never asked the right questions because no one guided them to do so;they barely know their own vales and principles. They rarely stepped beyond the "minimum necessary"; but that's also because no one showed them they could do much more. They don't care about the world issues, not even about local issues. They don't have a clear career path, and some of them never worked and never been to an interview. They barely produced original thoughts because they were not trained to. The studying for the exams always takes place one or two days Before an exam, in which period the word "study" becomes extremely misused.

I wished my words were of gratitude.. However the courses and books I've read during these years, the learning I took were purely acts of solitude. I wish I could have assisted a graduation where the leaders of students were actually capable of delivering a graduation speech. I wish I would have been provided with all the necessary logistics to have the presentation I dreamed of for my graduation paper, not upfront discouragement, I wish I actually had a presentation not a panel interview..I wish teachers would not underestimate so much, I wish self sufficiency would be replaced with a race towards performance.

and yeah...I wish this speech would have been actually delivered...right then the graduation could have been a strong disinfectant odor against the smell of hypocrisy gathered one of the most elegant rooms...of one of the best universities in the country?