At the first of May the call for papers for the 2016 conference in Pittsburgh has come to an end. And you have been responding massively! At a first glance, the harvest looks great: interesting papers and posters from all over the world, focusing on the con-texts, texts and textures of hopeful teaching today. “Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out,” wrote the Czech president Vaclav Havel. As a hope-driven educationalist and theologian I like this quote. It is all about staying concentrated on the deeper meaning of things happening in the world, in society and school. It is all about the decision not to give up on the deeper quality of an “examined way of life” (Aristotle), on the human capacity both to connect with and to transcend daily life in light of human dignity.
What we need in this troubled world are great teachers, who are compassionate and intelligent. The former Archbishop of Milano, Cardinal Carlo Martini, argued that future leaders will need to develop “spiritual muscles”: the will to understand cognitively but above all spiritually the challenges of the world and the power to respond with mind, heart and soul. This is an enormous challenge. But I am hopeful we will get there. In this respect, I am looking forward to reading more in depth the REA-proposals for November. But above all I am eager to see the faces again of the REA-members again and to listen to their stories, to their scholarship and to the fragments of hope they will be bringing to the table of learning in Pittsburgh.
Very best wishes for a good summer (at least for those on the Northern hemisphere…) from your president-elect, Bert Roebben.
P.S. Do not forget to fill out our membership questionnaire: we want to hear your voice!