Scourge and Transparency

The Rise and Fall of Advanced Social Journalism during the Early Twenty-First Century

The Ivory Tower of Shit

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Today we’re going to talk about education, that’s right, education. You may or may not be aware but I have a community college diploma and am on my way to getting a university degree. But to be completely frank both systems don’t add up to much more than the paper they’re written on. Being the cynic I am I can only truly appreciate something when using it to criticize another item. When I was in college I thought there was nothing dumber than it. And now that I’m in university I can’t rap my mind around what all the hoopla is about.

I have an advanced (whatever the fuck that means) diploma in ‘Journalism: Print & Broadcast’ from the somewhat respectable, and hardly known outside the Hamilton Mountain, Mohawk College. And what does two years of courses, assignments and residency add up to – one point above shit. Because, lets get real, who the hell is hiring journalists? They’re not like tradesmen, technicians or those with an education in business or marketing that are always needed. However I have only my self to blame for studying what I did. I don’t much regret spending two years of my life and the incredibly over-priced tuition/ancillary fees to attend that program. The parties were sick and the people were great.

The problem with community college is that program coordinators are given the power to hire instructors as they choose. Some of these individuals may have no training as a teacher what so ever and also leave much to be desired in the area of social skills. Furthermore many don’t take their jobs very seriously. This apathy is the consequence of a college instructor’s only real value: their experience in the industry. Many individual course instructors are people that have worked in the field being studied. Unfortunately those that do cannot necessarily teach as well. And just like the students in the class, so many of the instructors are more concerned with putting something on their resume than the actual curriculum.

The area of lecturer inexperience is something that is shared between college and university. Professors may have a PhD (and in some cases don’t even possess this title) but they are certainly capable of not be able to convey ideas to a crowd of people. In fact, some are god-awful at it. And again, professors are often more concerned with their research and not their lecturing or marking.

The real shit part about university is the lack of social and workplace experience it offers. All that is required from the student in an individual social sciences’ course is to write at most 15 pages of double spaced drivel on god-knows-what and complete a maximum of 2 tests on the course material. What does that teach us about life or the work place? Shit. There are not many jobs that only require producing an academic paper every 4 months (outside of academia of course). And let’s face it: research papers, in all their eccentric and unnecessary glory,  are possibly the stupidest things to exist next to compact disc packaging.

College, on the other hand, gives students the experience of writing the odd paper but also having a schedule to adhere by and being responsible for smaller and more frequent assignments that mimic the activity of an actual workplace. While in university you may (or may not) know how to write a 20-page thesis but not have the faintest idea of how to produce a simple 50-word memo.

It is not only the weight that is given to essays alone at university but also a paper’s individual vagueness and absurdity that is problematic. It could be easily said that no one knows how to write a proper paper. I am entering my third year of undergrad studies with a good standing grade point average and besides knowing how to cite and use spell-check I have no further understanding of what makes a good essay. I have continually read the “comments section” of my supposedly marked paper and it is quite arguable that if I put my thumb over the grade the review could reflect anything from a C+ to an A. Shockingly this is all that is provided as far as marking is concerned in university – no rubric, no addition or subtraction of actual marks, no individual weight given to certain areas and no proper assessment of mistakes or “good points” beyond the word count and bibliography. This is sad and paradoxical. If universities are such prestigious institutions and hold essays in such high regard why do they provide less of explanation for the marking of papers than Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert do in their 2 thumbs down review of Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls? The marking that teaching assistants are required to do is about equal to a short movie review blurb.

I suppose I will never complain about a grade I receive above an A-, however if you decide that my paper is not fantastic than I’d like to be enlightened on how marks are categorically deducted for improper citation or a weak title.

When I come out of university I will have two things: a piece of paper that says I have an honours degree in political science and the knowledge that incompetency and ignorance exists in the most respectable and hierarchical of organizations. In fact, it can be assumed through the education I have, or have not, received that bullshit is rife and relevant in almost every aspect of society.


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