Our time to lead (G&M Special)

The Globe and Mail is devoting October to an “in-depth examination of an issue that is critical to Canada’s future: post-secondary education” according to their editorial.  The section on their website is call “Our Time to Lead.”

From a few of the articles I’ve seen so far, I know there’s going to be a bunch that I will end up thinking are relevant and worth sharing. And, instead of devoting multiple blog posts to this (although that would be an easy way to think of some topics), I’m just going to share a link to the section, and a few of the articles I think are worthwhile so far. Then, if you’re interested, you can continue to check out the articles in your own time.

I’m interested in what will come out of it for a few reasons. One, I’m very interested in education overall, as I mentioned in another post recently. Two, they have an advisory panel to weigh in on some topics, and it turns out I have met at least one of the members. Three, if they come out of it with any actual real thoughts, suggestions, or actions plans on how to improve post-secondar education.

The whole assumption behind the section is that there are huge problems in post-secondary education. I don’t disagree that some things could be done better. But, seriously, I think we could say that about everything and anything. It’s rare (impossible) to find anything that couldn’t be improved in some way.

One of the articles I’m reading right now is called “Can Canada’s schools pass the next great intelligence test?” So far, I’ve found it a bit frustrating. Between there being no explanation as to what the “next great intelligence test” is and the following quote:

Students, stuffed into lecture halls, complain about not being challenged, not acquiring job skills or not having enough contact with their professors in the early years of their degrees. Faculty members grumble that students arrive from high school unprepared, or prefer to amble leisurely through a four-year degree like consumers ordering an education to go. But professors are often overly focused on research at the expense of teaching and resist new technology.

I won’t argue that there are ridiculously large classes and that in many first year courses students never have contact with the professor. But, I don’t think it’s to blame faculty for all the problems. From my experience in grad school, in a lot of cases, the faculty’s hands are tied, even if they want to make changes. And, please, can we agree that new technology doesn’t immediately equal better? Also, yes, many professors are overly focussed on their research (that’s what they were hired to do), but, there’s also very limited resources offered to grad students (the ones who will end up being the next generation of these profs) to teach them how to be good teachers. There’s also rarely opportunities for grad students to even teach, in a lot of departments. But, I digress.

Anyway, I look forward to reading more of the articles that come out of this series and seeing where things end up. But I’ll probably have to try to stay away from the comment sections, as those just generally suck me in and are huge time wasters. And they rarely add anything that was really worth reading.

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