Good Policy Begins With a Willingness to Listen
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A Texas professor said “You can read about something, you can watch a video; but it’s only when you’re doing it that you truly absorb that knowledge.”
With desirable careers in such high demand, employers are increasingly favouring individuals with hands-on experience. It is estimated that more than half of employers require new employees to have proficiency in their field. This makes sense, since experiential learning has many benefits. Beyond experience in the field itself, studies show that experiential learning increases retention of information, attitude towards learning, and creativity.
There is a story we like to tell.
It’s the one where you leave post-secondary education and enter the workforce with a crisp degree and a new outlook. You have your resume in-hand, ready to take on the world. You’ve worked hard for four (or more) years and have learned skills in each of your courses that gave you well-rounded knowledge. You can now draw on this in every interview you have been offered. Sound familiar?
So I’ve got this thorn in my side.
The Canadian University Survey Consortium (CUSC) recently published the results of their first year student survey and reports on differences between visible minorities and non-visible minorities. All well and good. It seems as if analysts arrive at these two groups through back-coding; that is, based on respondents’ self-reported data they group respondents into categories that better suit their analyses. Again, all well and good. This is common practice and is by no means the only time this type of demographic data has been reported in this way.
Happy beginning of the 2016/2017 school year! For those of us in the post-secondary education sector the greatest time of the year is upon us. Students are returning to campuses across our province with great enthusiasm for the year to come. In just a few days the lecture halls, campus lawns, and residence rooms will be alive with excitement. Our OUSA members are very ecstatic to welcome the class of 2020 to our institutions and I personally want to congratulate you on taking this next step in your lives.
“Ontario welcomes international students because of the diverse perspectives they bring to our institutions of higher learning.”
Throughout the summer, I have often found myself in discussions about international students. During these discussions I have constantly heard about the “benefits” these individuals bring to Canadian universities described as “unique perspectives in class discussions” or “a significant economic impact.” This is true – international students do provide immeasurable benefits; however, they also face significant barriers while attending our institutions. We need to start shifting our focus from the benefits these students bring, to ways that we can help them succeed while they are attending our institutions.
Separating people of different ages into “generations” is something I have never really understood. Titles such as “Baby Boomer" or “Generations X and Y” have become common colloquialisms. These loaded terms are often relied on when praising, critiquing, or homogenizing lived experiences based on age. Ever since my introduction into student leadership I have heard many positive things about students within our communities; “generation of the future” is one common phrase in academic settings. I think it is true in temporal progression as well as in responsibility. But throughout dialogue about my “generation," one term (and its use) continues to trouble me: the dreaded “millennials."
"Much of the current state of troubled relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians is attributable to educational institutions and what they have taught, or failed to teach, over many generations. Despite that history, or, perhaps more correctly, because of its potential, the Commission believes that education is also the key to reconciliation. Educating Canadians for reconciliation involves not only schools and post-secondary institutions, but also dialogue forums and public history institutions such as museums and archives. Education must remedy the gaps in historical knowledge that perpetuate ignorance and racism."
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
“What’s the hardest question we could ask you right now?”
I remember sitting at that interview table, in a very nice house, at the end of Sterling Street in Hamilton. I felt confident and prepared, like I knew the answer. Thinking back to what I said at the time, I can now think of a new answer to indulge in – and maybe that’s the point. What happens when our plans don’t exactly work out the way we envisioned?
In a climate with strained university budgets, a dichotomy is often formed between teaching and research, with these two priorities pitted against each other and portrayed as in direct conflict. While there is undoubtedly a struggle in finding an appropriate balance for university faculty to divide their time between teaching and research capacities – particularly at U15 schools – undergraduate research can bridge this divide between university priorities.
The more people talk about mental health and wellness, the more important it is that we listen. Especially when it comes to students.
We’ve all heard the statistics. We know that 'one in five Canadians will experience some form of mental illness at one point in their life’ but that ‘five in five people have mental health.’ We’ve started the important conversations needed to de-stigmatize mental illness and have participated in conferences such as The Jack Project where we talked, listened, and learned about the challenges people face everyday.