Students should be challenged, and humbled, by knowledge

The education system has an obligation to put typically arrogant and ignorant students on a collision course with hard truths

Students should be challenged, and humbled, by knowledgeYouth is arrogant. The photograph on my phone is proof. In the photo, a young man hangs by one hand off the side of a skyscraper. He’s using his other hand to take a selfie. This is called roof-topping. It’s a kind of sports photography that encourages adrenalin junkies to climb skyscrapers and take photos…

There’s no substitute for love, even in the classroom

Without commitments – the ties that bind us to reality, to tradition, to what is good, to each other – the world falls apart

There’s no substitute for love, even in the classroomMaterialists say money makes the world go around, when in fact the force that drives humanity is love. All that’s bad in the world results from too little, too much or misdirected love. By saying this, I might be outing myself as an old-fashioned idealist. As I write this on a sunny spring morning, I…

Coding for kids? Teach the basics of education first

Mission One should be to fortify the foundation. Teach literacy – reading, writing, numeracy

Coding for kids? Teach the basics of education firstShould we teach computer programming to children? This question bounces around in the news and among technophiles who worry about things like coding. They worry Canada won’t be competitive if we don’t teach children how to write software. They worry we won’t have gender parity in the tech industry if we don’t teach young girls…

In charge of the classroom, in charge of your emotions

If a teacher cedes control to the students, all is lost – particularly the respect pupils should hold for their instructors

In charge of the classroom, in charge of your emotionsI always feel like a dunce when I lose my cool in class. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen often, since I’m blessed with such earnest and engaged students. But it happens. It happens to every teacher. A few weeks ago, I had a student with an untreated chrono malady – he couldn’t arrive on time to…

When inclusivity runs counter to simple common sense

Inclusion is a virtue, but not when it erodes the boundaries of taste, truth and common sense

When inclusivity runs counter to simple common senseSometimes you have to wonder what’s going through another person’s mind – or whether anything’s going on in there at all. The latest entry in the what’s-he-thinking? ledger belongs to the teachers at Archbishop Denis O’Connor Catholic High School in Ajax, Ont. To celebrate Black History Month, the school’s black history committee suggested students and…

Face-to-face education drives home the message

Higher education cultivates relationships – the abstract relationship with knowledge and the flesh-and-blood relationships with other people

Face-to-face education drives home the messageThe older I get, the more my life looks like a bank of fog. Distant memories fade. Only the most important moments in my life give off light. But memories blink out eventually, so in the long run they may not prove the best way to measure our time. As is the case of school.…

Curb the impulse to distort history for partisan purposes

History is not about judging the past or the people who lived it. It is about understanding how past events made us who we are today

Curb the impulse to distort history for partisan purposesEach morning, I peer out the window of my apartment at St. Paul’s Basilica, the centre of the Irish immigrant community that arrived in Toronto’s Corktown neighbourhood in the mid-1800s. Last year, I taught a course in writing about history. I used the basilica as a test case. If I were to write a history…

Looking back to gain perspective on higher education

Time to abandon the factory-model, cheap-labour practices of colleges; time to push back against thoughtcrime; and to celebrate Precilla Veigas

Looking back to gain perspective on higher educationThe new year asks us to look back before we can move forward. For post-secondary educators in Ontario, two problems of the last year deserve careful reflection as we enter 2018. The disastrous college strike sits at the top of the list. In October, part-time instructors at Ontario’s 24 public colleges went on strike to…

Artificial intelligence opens the door to a resurgence in the humanities

The good news about AI’s ascent is that the humanity might be shocked back into universities

Artificial intelligence opens the door to a resurgence in the humanitiesI wouldn’t want to be a prophet. Prophesy’s a tough profession. If not attacked, beaten or burned, the prophet’s ignored, shunned and hated. All for having something important to say. So don’t treat what I have to say about how universities will respond to artificial intelligence, or AI, as prophesy. At issue is how AI…

Free speech is central to intellectual life, even at university

A report for Yale back in 1975 was clear about how to deal with people who interfere with free speech: suspend them or expel them

Free speech is central to intellectual life, even at universityExpression on university campuses is not as free and as open as it should and must be. Over the past year, universities have cancelled controversial talks before they’ve begun, mobs have shouted down provocative speakers after they’ve started, and students have faced disciplinary actions for speaking rudely or stupidly. Culture police have examined artworks for…
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