Part 3/3: Education in Canada Must Have A Purpose

The first article in this series outlined the big picture view of our current education system in Canada. The second examined various methods in which to view the value of higher education. This final article will further expand on higher education in Canada, and offer an analysis of the future.

Following the post-WW2 expansion, in the 1990s we experienced political parties who have stuck with some policies while eliminating others due to the influence of the ebbs and flows of our economy’s surpluses and deficits (or whichever lobbying group had the most influence at the time). Canadians elected leaders, both liberal and conservative, that drove neoliberal policy down our throats; they were simply following in the “success” of our neighbours and allies. Neoliberalism is a term used to describe the ideology that a government is better off by reducing its expenses by privatizing its services and allowing the private sector to exist with only minimal government restrictions. This ideology has resulted in such ‘achievements’ as the most recent banking sector collapse, the destruction of the automotive manufacturing sector, increased health and education expenses, the mess of transportation infrastructure that we see today, and so much more. By reducing the government’s expenses – i.e. by firing all of the people who were in charge of running a certain “unnecessary” department, citizens run the risk of falling into a trap. A citizen/voter is now unable to request certain immediate changes regarding an area of concern, or maybe our officials are unable to rectify a decision that will affect thousands of workers to lose their jobs. By allowing our government to relinquish their control, we (as citizens) benefit by reducing the taxes we have to spend, however we are allowing profit makers to have free reign over their consumers, which blurs the distinction of who is really making the important decisions for our country. Read More

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Part 2/3: Education in Canada Has Been a Heated Issue

Written by Stephen Armstrong.

Higher Education in Canada has been something of a heated issue in recent times as the cost of tuition has risen drastically since the 1990s, and cash strapped provincial governments assure increasingly hesitant to fund institutions which are not producing enough graduates in high demand areas of the economy.

Universities have faced criticism from politicians, graduates, and the public alike for producing graduates who are often unable to find work in their fields of study. The defenders of Higher Education often phrase their counter-arguments in the same language of jobs, employment, and skills, often pointing out that BA grads learn a very broad and very employable set of skills which employers are not recognizing (research, written and oral communication, etc..). Read More

Part 1/3: From What I Understand, Canadian Education Needs To Focus More On What We’re Learning, Not How We’ll Use It.

This is the first article of a 3 part series, the second article of which was written by my colleague Stephen Armstrong, focusing on the current situation of education in Canada.

At the end of 2011, Canada was ranked number one when it comes to university and college enrolments, but we are also number one in the number of people with university degrees that live in poverty. Critics may pass this off as an after-effect of the 2008 recession, however even before the economic downturn, the 2006 census showed that as many as one-quarter of young people with bachelor’s degrees were holding down jobs that did not require one. These are terrifying statistics that highlight important issues within the Canadian education system, but first I would like to guide you through the journey of the institutionalization of how we learn, and further, how this affects our country as a whole. Read More

From What I Understand, Middle-Class Jobs Are Being Seriously Threatened

If you’re aged 15 or 50, if you work in retail, restaurants or really anything considered a “middle-class” job – you need to start panicking, like now…

You might be asking why, and here’s the long answer… The really long answer.

Our economy dictates that corporations, especially public ones, need to put shareholders first. This basically means that if a company isn’t trying to increase their stock price, or their income, then they run the risk of failure. This inherent drive to constantly and consistently increase profits, combined with the advancements we are making with technology, means that any job that is capable of being replaced with an iPad, will be (or the company will probably cease to exist). You might scoff at the notion that your barista, or your regular server, or your box-office ticket salesperson could ever be replaced by a touchscreen, but if you look hard enough you’ll begin to realize that this is already happening everywhere. Cineplex Odeon greets their guests with rows of touchscreen ticket booths, stores everywhere are creating self check-out lanes, and some restaurants even have conveyor belts that bring your food right to your table (after you order from your iPad of course).  As technology becomes cheaper and minimum wages begin to increase, corporations will increasingly take advantage of these small investments to essentially remove the increasing costs of paying wages to humans – reducing their expenses, thereby increasing their profits and keeping their wealthy investors happy.

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