Today I had the privilege of having Denis Rancourt come in and speak to one of my psychology classes about school and the education system.
Now, I’d just like to say that this man is one of great intelligence, wit, and so much other good stuff. You’ll either love him or, like the University of Ottawa, hate his guts. I’ve taken the stand to love him (nothing sexual of course).
Denis had our class engage in a very thought provoking discussion. It’s hard to do justice to what took place in that class. It was a powerful experience, moving, emotional. Not emotional in a “oh my god I’m so sad and crying” way. More in the way of “oh my god, I’m so angry with the way I’ve been treated at school”. Many students shared their experiences with the crap they’ve had to put up with during some of their courses. I’ll try to sum up a few here:
–One student wrote an English paper and received a poor grade on it. When the student went and talked to the professor, the professor told them that they did not take the right side when they wrote the paper. Basically, because the student didn’t agree with what the professor thought, they lost marks.
And on the subject of English papers…who the hell do these professors think they are? They think they know exactly what an author of the book was trying to say. Guess what, the thing the professors think the authors were trying to say, were not the things that the author was trying to say. It’s all bull shit, it’s all subjective. My interpretation of a book is just as right as yours is. You can’t tell me that I don’t feel sad when I’m crying, so what the hell gives you the right to tell me that what I think is wrong?
–Another student lost marks on an essay because the sources this student used were not the ones that the professor wanted the students to use. It is important to note here that professors never inform students what sources to use. As long as sources are used, you should be fine.
Here I’ll throw in one of my own experiences. One that has just recently happened. My Industrial and Organizational Psychology professor told us to write a “discussion paper” on a problem in the workplace that we’ve experienced and how we would fix that problem. Here’s the catch: we were to use references for any ideas that we put in the paper. My question is…what the hell kind of ideas are we supposed to cite? We’re writing about our own personal experiences. The things that happen in each workplace are different. We all have our own ideas and experiences. I understand citing these so called “theories” and “terms”, to a degree. But when does it become your own idea rather than someone else’s? I can tell you that what I wrote about was my own genuine experience. And how I defined things such as job performance were my own words. Of course, for the sake of not failing the class or being accused of plagiarism, I looked up a definition that was similar to mine and cited it, but come on…is this really how they want us to do it? If we come up with our definitions of terms, does that mean we’re plagiarizing? The whole purpose of school is to develop our own knowledge. Apparently our own knowledge is complete bull shit unless we say where we got it from.
Also, how do teachers react when students try to question them? Try to question their teaching methods and the system? In a democratic class, where students are allowed to decide on a form of teaching/evaluation, why does a teacher lose their mind and get pissed off if a student suggests something that is not the “norm”? When there is even the slightest notion that a teacher is losing control, they try to take it right back. And when a student questions them on their methods and policies…what does the teacher do? Makes them feel like shit. We’re all terrified of speaking our minds for fear of being reprimanded. For fear of receiving a zero, failing a class, being singled out. But so what if we fail a class? Is it not better to actually learn than to come out of four years of school and only remember 10% of what we studied?
Here’s a final food for thought: We pay good money to the school. What do we get back from them? I’ve had my fair share of professors who read shit off their powerpoints the whole time. And when asked a question that applies to the real world, they can’t answer it. Why are we paying these people to tell us what to do? Why are they not listening to how WE want to learn? If they want to impose their limits on us, shouldn’t they be the ones paying us?
Think about it..