Thursday, June 29, 2017
I was in church recently, singing heartily off-key as usual. During the sermon, the minister quoted Reinhold Niebuhr, one of the great theologians in American history and a prominent public policy advisor to presidents, statesmen, scholars and scientists who was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964. Here’s the quote:
"Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime."
I found that quote very comforting. As some of you know, I have struggled with the theory—and especially the practice—of retirement. At almost 72 years of age, I am clearly over the hill. But there always seems to be just one more peak ahead, easily within reach, after which everything else will seem downhill. It is an illusion of course.
To the extent that UDL is really “worth doing,” it will take more than my lifetime (or anyone else’s) to achieve in full. It is a journey, as they say, rather than a destination. There will be many more hills to climb ahead, and many more beyond even the ones we can see now.
As a consequence, there will be never be a clear or unmistakable marker for retirement, no sign that the final hilltop has been topped or that everything essential has been accomplished. UDL is too “worth doing” for that. But for me personally, it is now the right time to retire, and for three important reasons.
- First, there are some very tiny hills that I want to climb now, and I have found just the right companions—two very young grandchildren and another on the way in a few months.
- Second, CAST, which has been my base camp for the last three decades, has found strong new leadership. CEO Linda Gerstle and the wonderful staff, old and new, have been strengthening the foundations of CAST, ensuring that it will be vital and well-prepared enough to provide leadership and support for future UDL leaders and climbers.
- Third, the field of UDL is now happily populated by a powerful and inspiring group of new leaders--teachers, researchers, administrators, developers--who are both eager and capable of guiding the next steps along the upward journey, both in the USA and worldwide.
So, I will retire on July 24th, my birthday! (Alas It is true that I have a few projects that I will need to finish, so the retirement will be as imperfect as I am: there is still no perfect pitch.)
I have loved my time learning with all of you, and I will want that to continue. So, as a birthday present to myself and as a retirement gift to the field, I will be launching a blog later this year and asking current and up-and-coming UDL leaders to contribute. Those leaders, who have already inspired and enriched the field, will show us the future of UDL, both its challenges and opportunities. I very much look forward to seeing what they say—and how you respond in comments and posts.
Mostly I look forward to following the actual work that you all do in the coming months and years, work so worthwhile that it will last more than a lifetime.