I am honored and humbled to be a part of this overwhelming commitment to the education of young people. It is also exciting to have the opportunity to address future and current teachers, administrators, university faculty, researchers, parents, and community members all in this arena. An arena that highlights the many integral roles that are vital to the education of young people. While ceremonies like these highlight the wonderful individual accomplishments during our own educational journeys, they also provide an opportunity for us to envision how our individual knowledge bases, experiences, and passions in the field of education can be coalesced to create powerful and transformative educational spaces for our youth.
While we graduates have acquired a vast repertoire of knowledge, skill, and practice throughout our time here at UIC, we also now have a critical and ethical responsibility to use our individual talents collectively to serve our educational communities. I refer to this responsibility as the need to develop a pedagogical consciousness that informs our practice as educators and researchers. A pedagogical consciousness that causes us to be intentional and thoughtful about our shared work and the exponential impact it has on classrooms, schools, and communities.
If we are to be stewards of research, teaching, and learning, then we as a profession possess an obligation to raise the consciousness of ourselves and others about the purposes, ways, and means of harnessing the power of education for the good of all of our communities. An obligation to develop a pedagogical consciousness that fosters an ownership of the educational system that is intended to serve as an indispensable part of our democracy. Together, in our many different roles, we have been granted the privilege to work to provide our youth with transformative learning opportunities. With that privilege comes the responsibility to develop a consciousness that guides each of our pedagogical decisions that we have the fortune to make each and everyday. Decisions that can inspire, transform, and empower young people. Our youth trust us to develop that consciousness. A pedagogical consciousness that binds us in the commitment to the cultivation of educational spaces that are truly for the public good.