I am a dedicated fan of magical realism. If you ever read any of Toni Morrison's books, especially Beloved, you know this genre well. Last year, I saw the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild which starred the amazing 6-year-old actress, Quvenzhané Wallace, whose character's name was Hushpuppy. She was so outstanding in this film that she was nominated for an Academy Award as best actress. The film depicted the adverse living conditions of a community of people living in a post-Katrina environment. They lived in the swamps and back woods of Louisiana in a place they called the Bathtub. To the viewers, this place is squalor personified; but to the inhabitants, this is home. Hushpuppy is haunted by these prehistoric beasts that she must confront in order to save soul and self. The viewers are never sure if the beasts are mythical or real, which is the power of magical realism. As Hushpuppy ventures on her journey, she discovers that her real quest is to be fulfilled. She wants answers for her presence and reasons for her existence. The most poignant scene in the film is when she states just that, "I want to be cohesive."
Don't we all want to be cohesive? Don't we all want the disparate parts of our selves to align in some sort of an array that leads us to effectiveness? As I reflect this summer and contemplate on the future of our personnel, programs and practices, I hope that we, too, within the College of Education become cohesive. As I have said often, "If we have internal solidarity, we will have better external positioning." In order for us to be cohesive, we must work collaboratively toward a common goal. I truly believe that our common goal is to prepare culturally competent and confident pre-professionals who can educate, serve and lead. We can reach this goal by making sure that our curriculum, instruction and assessments are cohesive.
In the fall, we will launch curriculum and scholarship enhancement grants that will enable faculty to apply for funds that will align their teaching and scholarship in order to assist us in reaching our goal. I hope that these funds will incentivize professional cohesion, but I also hope that this summer you all will find personal cohesion as you relax, reflect and rejuvenate.