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…

Bill C-59’s overreach allows security to trump freedom

Bill C-59, Canada’s new spy legislation, threatens the freedom of expression, the right to life, liberty and the security of the person

Bill C-59’s overreach allows security to trump freedomOne-time prime minister John Diefenbaker said, “We must vigilantly stand on guard within our own borders for human rights and fundamental freedoms which are our proud heritage. … We cannot take for granted the continuance and maintenance of those rights and freedoms.” But critics warn that Bill C-59, Canada’s new spy legislation, threatens the freedom…

Canada falling into the anti-Trump trap

As Canadians try desperately to prove we’re not Trump’s America, we make grievous social and political errors

Canada falling into the anti-Trump trapThe election of President Donald Trump in the United States is changing the political world in Canada. To his critics, Trump’s the worst of everything a human being can be. His detractors call him names that would have been considered extreme even for a president as divisive as Richard Nixon. According to his supporters, he…

Where the rule of law weakens, freedom wanes

Freedom and democracy are not stand-alone structures. For stability, they require institutional infrastructure, in particular, the rule of law and tolerance

Where the rule of law weakens, freedom wanesFor the first time in decades, basic human freedom is under attack globally. Journalists and opposition leaders are killed in Russia. China’s Communist Party stifles dissent on the mainland while threatening the rule of law in Hong Kong. Tens of thousands are arrested in Turkey on dubious grounds after a failed coup. Venezuela descends into…

Using student job funding to silence critics

The Liberals’ latest decision means summer employment is now a testing ground for ideological adhesion, obedience and purity

Using student job funding to silence criticsIt’s tough work to imagine two groups more radically different than the Canadian Council of Christian Charities and the gays rights network LGBTory. So when both join the rising chorus opposing changes to what should be among Ottawa’s most innocuous programs, it’s a signal something significant is going on. The Four Cs, as the council…

Free speech: Be open to debate or become irrelevant

The danger arises when we become too attached to ideas and are no longer open to healthy discourse

Free speech: Be open to debate or become irrelevantHanna Holborn Gray, former president of the University of Chicago, said, “Universities should be expected to provide the conditions within which hard thought, and therefore strong disagreement, independent judgment, and the questioning of stubborn assumptions, can flourish in an environment of the greatest freedom.” So it’s quite ironic that issues of freedom of speech have…

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…

Stop treating universities like they’re retail outlets

Universities should bring young people into the disciplines and rigours of an examined life, into the habits of careful thinking

Stop treating universities like they’re retail outletsWhile at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), I got to know a history teacher who was a passionate and self-proclaimed Marxist. She loved to talk about the inequality and injustices that plagued the city, the province, the country and, well, the cosmos. I asked her one morning if she wouldn’t mind splitting…

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…

When speech isn’t free, society pays a high price

A recent incident at the University provides a glimpse of what the future may hold for Canadian post-secondary education – and it ain’t pretty

When speech isn’t free, society pays a high priceAt one time, universities respected free speech and the exchange of different ideas. Intellectual discourse and thought-provoking debates were viewed as healthy, vibrant and treasured. Unfortunately, speech isn’t nearly as free on today’s university campuses. Intolerance of opposing philosophies, and hurt feelings among the hordes of special interest groups, have come to define modern institutions…
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