On Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 3:09am a letter was posted on Facebook by Daniel Weinstock [editors note: TeamMan.ca does not know Daniel Weinstock] regarding the demonstrations in Montreal and the turmoil in the province of Quebec. The letter caused a raging debate for TeamMan.ca and the following is the transcript in full.
JP: There’s no argument in that letter. The title implies that he’s going to make an argument about why English Canada “has it wrong” when it comes to the Quebec situation, but them never explains why.
This is a poorly drafted, excuse-ridden letter. “Right-wing media”?? Come on, NO ONE outside of Quebec has thrown their support to this cause. Sure, student groups in different provinces might have made statements in support of it, but no real effort outside of Quebec has been made in favour of these protestors.
Why? Because no one supports them. It’s not just “right wing media”, it’s hard working, every-day students in other provinces that refuse to jump in line with these Quebec students….and that’s why they’ll fail.
We made up our minds of not to join in with these protestors because of our PERSONAL experiences, NOT because of the “right wing media”.
I paid my way through school…all fucking 8 years of it. I’m not happy about the debt I have, but it was my choice to go through that much school. I can’t expect someone else to pay for it. Government subsidies have helped, which means “someone else” paid for part of my education. For that, I am forever grateful, and will not complain when it’s my turn to pay taxes into a system that funds programs such as OSAP. But anyone who expects their entire education to be funded by public monies has absolutely no idea of the economic consequences.
WHERE THE FUCK DO YOU EXPECT THAT MONEY TO COME FROM??
Paying for school sucks. Going to school isn’t easy. LIFE isn’t easy. These kids usually say “well, Europe seems to have it right, they don’t pay for school”. True. But they also live ENTIRELY different lives than we do. If you like paying enormous amounts of income tax for the rest of your life, go right ahead and move there.
We won’t miss you.
Canada’s education system isn’t perfect, and tuition needs to be highly monitored to ensure that it doesn’t sky rocket, but free tuition isn’t the answer. I don’t know the answer, but if you want my support to hear your “answer”, then please try to act in a civil and respectful manner…you’ll get my attention then.
JORDAN: JP, I find your response very interesting considering the amount of debt that you have incurred due to law school.
Why shouldn’t school cost less? Granted, I know money has to come from somewhere, I don’t disagree with that, but Quebec is not the first region in the world subsidize education. For example, Australia and Cuba provide free tuition for their students only to be paid back when they are full time employees. Could you imagine, JP, if you could go to law school for free then pay it back through taxes that don’t charge interest? How much stress would relieve from your academic experience and your career choices?
Second, isn’t it important to keep higher education accessible to the the largest number of of people? I don’t disagree with Quebec raising tuition prices, things cost money. But when they increase it by 70% in 5 years that instantly bottlenecks young citizens access to higher education. In terms of economics, a well educated society will improve a national economy for the long term.
I don’t know enough about the Quebec budget to understand where they prioritize their finances, but shouldn’t discussions be had on how to creatively afford education? Education is part of a foundation to a healthy society. We can’t just dismiss the idea that tuition should just go up at such exorbitant rates and in such a short time. Dialogue needs to happen. Protesters exist when they feel there are injustices within society. Students have a right to be heard and the Quebec government should listen. It upsets me to think that students are considered whiners when they are fighting for something that is so important. Isn’t it a bit backwards when education has to equal debt?
JP, you have chosen to taken on an enormous debt for your education, for that I admire you. But it really shouldn’t have to be that way. Quebec students should be allowed to try to protect future students from the burdens of debt and ensure those that want education will have access to it.
JUSTIN: I have issues with calling the undergrad degrees education.
JP: I never meant to say that education shouldn’t cost less, I think it should. However, free education in our country simply won’t work under current policy. Funding would have to come directly from taxpayers.
Tax is always a huge issue for politicians, and anyone who wants to raise tax usually finds themselves on the bottom of a ballot. Yes, other countries offer free education. But you have to remember how different (economically, socially, etc) they are from us. In order to get free education in Canada, we’ll have to see a mass reformation of policy. The people don’t want this, just look at how excited they got when the conservatives shaved off ONE percent of the GST.
Degrees from Canadian universities are expansive, and carry a lot of weight in the world. Can the same be said of Australian and other Euro universities? I don’t think so.
JORDAN: I strongly believe that an undergraduate is as essential to the development of a person as K – 12. Without undergraduate schooling we would not have teachers, lawyers and doctors. Virtually every job that is essential to our national economy is obtained after graduating from an undergrad program. A high school degree does not cut it anymore. If an individual is going to find a reasonable job, contribute to society, raise a family and maybe own a house, the odds are through the roof that they will need an undergraduate degree. To cut off access to undergraduate degrees because of finances creates further disparity between the rich and the poor.
I understand your point about a free education and too be honest, its a pipe dream for me. But I don’t believe thats the issue being raised by the Quebec protesters. I believe they are fighting for accessible education. This does not need to be free.
Also, what’s wrong with Australian and European schools?
JP: Jordan, if you offer free undergraduate degrees then they essentially become worthless. This is what happened to high school diplomas, and it’ll happen again to university degrees if they become free. Supply and demand.
JORDAN: JP, education is not a pair of shoes that I put on my feet. Education teaches a person about the world, teaches them skills of critical thinking allows them to open up their mind to new thoughts and experiences. You can’t equate the result of education to dollars and cents because there is no way to calculate that.
JP: Not all Australian and English/Euro schools are free. The ones you’ve heard of (Cambridge, Oxford, Monash, etc) are definitely not free. The weight of a degree from one of those schools is infinitely heavier than a degree from a “free” school.
JUSTIN: Jordan – I agree that an undergraduate degree is a prerequisite to a lot. That’s not mutually exclusive with my comment that it’s not education. I never said it’s not important or not necessary in our current system. I’m saying it’s not education. Especially not the overwhelming majority of people who graduate with degrees in the liberal arts. My BA was necessary to get a BEd. But my BA taught me nothing of value. And to an extent, my BEd taught me very little. 99% of what I know comes from what I do, not what I’ve read or been told about. And that’s not atypical of many professionals who have undergraduate degrees in psychology, sociology, anthropology, philosophy etc. For too many people a BA is an annoying speed bump. A necessary hurdle to move past rather than a valuable goal in and of itself.
JORDAN: I don’t know how you can honestly say that 1% of what you learned came from your university education. What about paper writing? Critical reading skills. Hell, you learned about psychology of a person. If that is your argument I can’t disagree with you, all I can say its definitely not the same for me.
JUSTIN: I’ve never had to write a single paper outside of an academic environment. Multiple choice exams and research papers are the opposite of critical thinking. I couldn’t recall a single useful and applicable fact about the psychology of a person.
JORDAN: I don’t know what to say. I am sorry you had such a bad undergrad experience.
JUSTIN: I learned that caffeine blocks certain chemicals in your brain that are meant to slow brain activity which results in the release of adrenaline. I learned that people in a group are less likely to act against an injustice because they assume others will do it – diffusion of responsibility. I learned that babies exhibit a stress response when their moms are also stressed. Not exactly useful tools in day to day life.
My undergrad experience was amazing and critical to me being where I am today. The piece of paper sitting in my basement represents an infinitesimal part of that undergraduate experience (yet about 90% of the cost)
JP: Jordan, I’m not bashing the importance of education. The idea of free post-secondary education won’t solve the troubles young people face finding jobs. Sure, we’ll have more people with BAs, but there will still be “non-free” schools, which will have way more money and resources than fully subsidized schools.
Also, if everyone in the country has a BA, then what happens to the value of a Canadian BA?
JORDAN: JP, that’s an important question. It forces us to reexamine how our education relates to economics. That said, education in itself is an important experience for developing strong members of society.
JUSTIN: The value of a Canadian BA is already diluted. Three of us here have one and it wasn’t enough so we pursued/are pursuing more.
JORDAN: Justin, you’re looking at your education strictly through economic return, but education is so much more then that.
First, it was your choice to not pursue a career in psychology, that has nothing to do with the usefulness of the information.
Second, you may need that information at one point in your life.
Third, the fact that you enjoyed your university experience, the fact that you were a don, the people that you met and clubs that you were part of. That all goes hand-in-hand with your investment into education.
So, the books that you read don’t seem practical right now, but that does not take away from the value of university as an institution for developing strong members of society.
JP: Jordan – I totaly agree. But we’ll need to change a lot more than our education system in order to fulfill that goal.
Justin – you’re abesolutely right, and that scares the shit out of me. BUT, that’s what it takes.
I had ZERO dollars in my bank account before I started my undergrad. Now, 8 years and 3 degrees later, I still have ZERO dollars in my bank account. Actually, I have minus 150k in my bank account.
I had the help of my government. And for that I’m forever grateful. It wasn’t easy, but it was possible. If an immigrant kid raised by a single parent mother can do it, why can’t anyone else?
JUSTIN: There aren’t enough positions in psychology for every undergraduate psychology student and careers in psychology are so specialized that most of what is learned in an undergrad is either useless or so diluted that it requires years of specialization and study to turn it into something useful. I will never need this information in my life. At least I hope not. I can’t remember any of it.
And yes, university as an institution is important for developing strong members of society. But universities don’t market themselves as an environment to gain leadership experience or join clubs or make connections. They market themselves as institutions of higher learning. That’s laughable, considering how many students are assessed using multiple choice exams and other strictly “memorize and regurgitate” type assessment tools.
MIT is an institution of higher learning. Give students a real world problem and have them tackle it with the guidance and support of the professors. That’s what post-secondary education should be. And for most people it’s not. Most people go through an undergrad buying a bunch of textbooks, reading a whole lot, and regurgitating facts and information while rarely being asked to make judgements, interpretations, applications etc. until their 3rd or 4th year.
JORDAN: JP – I don’t disagree with your sentiment. Any can do it. That said, your family was still financially well off enough that you could incur the debt of school without hurting your mom or sister’s future. Not everyone can. Again though, just because its possible doesn’t make it right. You, JP, should not have to be debt 150K for the sake of getting a good job. I am not an economist but I do know there are ways of creating a society that can afford cheaper education.