Thanks to everyone who wrote last week to wish me and my family well. I appreciate the kind thoughts. As my husband and I have spent the week trying to advise our son who started college in January, I'm just grateful that I feel so well and can try and help him put things in perspective.
I written a number of posts about the mental health crisis on college campuses and I'm not surprised it's a problem. As I've been talking with my son on the telephone these past few months, I have been wondering how I can help him identify the people at his university who care about "human feelings." Perhaps John Ciardi, the famous American poet, was right when he wrote, "A university is what a college becomes when the faculty loses interest in its students."
In the 40 years since I attended the University of California at Berkeley, nothing has changed. They do as lousy a job integrating spring-admit students now--as they did then. Everybody knows that starting college is a big adjustment and one that easily could be institutionally addressed, but it isn't at Cal despite promises at orientation and emails from administrators that suggested otherwise.
As I reflect on my experience at Cal and my son's, I wonder if people in student affairs ever think about what education is all about. My own view is similar to Grayson Kirk's, the former president of Columbia University, who wrote, "The most important function of education at any level is to develop the personality of the individual and the significance of his life to himself and to others. This is the basic architecture of a life; the rest is ornamentation and decoration of the structure."
And certainly Carl Jung was right as well, when he wrote, "One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary new material, but the warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child."