Educators tell graduands to convert passion into action

Fifteen years ago, Diane Goudie was fired when her radical vision of progressive education for girls "collided head-on with the wall of establishment" at the private school where she worked. The firing galvanized her and colleague Eleanor Moore, who shared her pedagogical vision. They raised $120,000 and founded The Linden School, now a cutting-edge prototype for girls’ education and the first school in Canada to practise feminist pedagogy.

"There is no question that we had then, as we have now, a passion," Goudie said Wednesday after she and Moore received honorary doctor of laws degrees for their educational daring and leadership. She challenged the hundreds of students graduating from the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies to do as she and Moore did, and convert their passion into action.

Left: Diane Goudie (left) and Eleanor Moore. Photo by CSi/

"You have received many tools here at York," said Goudie. "Ask yourselves the tough questions: What do you want to achieve beyond your paycheque? What are you prepared to risk in order to make a difference in your communities or in the global community?"

To make a difference, Goudie suggested engaging with "people who share your vision and people who speak to your integrity and your credibility."

The co-founder of a single-sex school also told graduands about to enter the working world to "remember that men and women function differently: women in a more relational way and men, more contractually." And both approaches should be valued and incorporated into decision-making, said Goudie.

At The Linden School, giving students a voice is essential "as it is in all quests for equity, liberation and change," said Goudie.

Moore picked up this theme in her speech: "Voice is an essential tool in the ability to make a difference but, if you deny it, it is a means of oppression."

"Each of you will have the opportunity to clarify your voice, to choose whether to collude with voices of power, to pretend ignorance of exclusion, or to perpetuate the silences," said Moore. She challenged graduands "to speak with courage" but warned that questioning the status quo won’t make anyone popular.

"But changes in the status quo are essential" in an age of depleting resources, globalization, the AIDS pandemic, human rights abuses, famine and war. And "women bring an essential perspective" to decision-making about the future, said Moore.

Follow your passion, suggested Moore, but also ask how you will ensure that what you do benefits all members of the community. "Be credible, find community, listen for all voices, change structures, be a leader and above all make a difference."

Convocation ceremonies take place this week, daily through Saturday. You can watch live Webcasts of the ceremonies while they are on. Archived versions will also be available.