While traveling in Dublin a couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to have visited Dublin’s Trinity College and spectacular 300 year old library. While there, His Excellency Michael Higgins, President of Ireland, gave an address to commemorate the ”Tercentenary Celebration” of the library. After reviewing his speech, I found a connection with a couple of the comments he made during his address.
He said, “It was Yeats who told us that education is not about the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire. And the great American jurist Oliver Wendall Holmes once said, ‘a mind, once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions.’ Trinity College has through its promotion of scholarly vocations in the sciences and the arts and humanities has stretched many minds and changed the trajectory of many lives.” He went on to say, ”universities have an indispensable role in fostering innovation in each new generation; it is in universities that boundaries to our existing knowledge are explored and crossed; it is there that unfettered thinking can thrive and unconstrained intellectual partnerships can be created. It is there, within each new class, within each new generation that the future is forged.”
The connection I felt is not only with how I feel about my own studies but also about the obligation that we all share in educating our youth, whether it is in the primary or secondary schools or at the university level. There are those, students as well as teachers, who feel that the education system is merely a checklist of tasks that need to be performed in order to reach the next stage when, in fact, we all should be embracing the educational system and soaking up every possible drop of knowledge with which we are presented. We should thirst to learn more and we should work harder at creating the proper learning environments for our children to do the same. We should want to continue to stretch our minds and ignite the fire in not only ourselves, but the fire of those we teach or lead through our daily interactions. Like Trinity college, we should seek to stretch the minds and change the trajectory of the many lives that we touch on a daily basis.
On this graduation day, I feel happy to be a part of the educational system and, like a proud parent, I feel very good about my students receiving their degrees and moving on to their careers. It is here, within this new graduating class, within this generation that the future is forged.