Scourge and Transparency

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

Posts Tagged ‘education

Post-Secondary Education Is A God Damn Joke

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At the young yet somewhat experienced age of 28 (going on 29) I have finally received an undergraduate honours’ degree. My major was political science; it took me about five years and I entered university after getting a college diploma in journalism. I now have somewhere around twenty-five thousand dollars in debt from student loans and just got back from an interview to wash dishes at minimum wage for three days a week. In short: I have wasted a shit tone of money and time on something completely and utterly worthless. What follows is a list of my detailed grievances as well as a warning for anyone about to enter a post-secondary institution and a big “GO FUCK YOURSELF” to all those involved in academia.  

First off when I was naïve enough to register for school I was told by countless acquaintances, friends and relatives a plethora of misinformation, ignorance and otherwise fucking bullshit. So many people said these exact words to me “you have to go to school (university or college)” or “you should study what you like.” I was a big enough idiot to take their guidance.  It’s obvious from my current job hunting that I never had to go to school and as for the second quote – I should have realized that what I actually like is to sit on my fucking ass all day! What they should have said instead of “like”is “tolerate” and if I had heard that I would not have wasted time and money and just kept going from dead-end up job to the next or looked for an occupation where I could slack off enough and still get benefits. Having said this I do – or did – like writing (hence journalism) as well as politics when I was registering for school, however,  one does not get the some sort of quality of education or certification when taking courses in these broad topics as one would in studying to become a lawyer, doctor or engineer.

I’m going to sum up at least seventy-five percent of every course outline (syllabus or what-the-fuck it’s called!) for every course I was required to take in political science at university. For each class one academic essay was to be written from about 10 to 20 pages on something vaguely related to the course over a period of 4 months and there was either an exam – that consistently mostly of a single essay question – and/or a presentation on something vaguely related to the course. These projects were then marked – and I am convinced of this – in at best a completely subjective manner or more than likely arbitrarily by an individual (teacher assistant or professor) whose only qualification was that they had written more of these bullshit meaningless essays than those you are submitting them. I would compare the marking of an academic essay to that of a movie review. Someone who is “educated” in the field gives their opinion of a product with absolutely no scientific calculation and justification for the difference between an A- and a B+ or an explanation for exactly how many marks was lost for not using italics properly on a god damn fucking footnote!

Here is how I wrote every essay I submitted at university – I picked a bullshit subject that seemed easy, searched the key words in a database, found quotes in other bullshit essays that were long, took up space and agreed with my prejudices, slapped the quotes in my paper and reiterated the same points over and over again until I reached the number of pages required. This could all be accomplished in a matter of a few hours. I did not learn from the subject under review nor was I required to. For many of my courses I was forced to provide a hard copy of this drivel with complete disregard for the environment, the cost of printing and the obvious ability many of us have to read off a screen.  Like I said – most of the marking was arbitrary and I was usually lucky enough for the wheel to spin to my advantage.  I got mostly As or Bs and some Cs. I learned early on that working hard on an essay, speaking with the TA or prof about your thesis and actually researching a subject could end you up with a C- just as much as pulling 10 pages out of your ass the night before it’s due could get you an A.

If you’re still considering putting down five grand a year to study humanities or social sciences, or what-the-shit majors like history or political science fall under, allow me to defecate in a more narrow way on how a course in subjects like these will go. In my intro to political science class I did not understand ONE FUCKING WORD that the prof was saying – he might as well have been farting the entire time and I could have learned more from him. I got an A in the course… The professors also like to list off these “required readings” on the course outline. This by no means what-so-fucking ever has you obligated to read every page of the book. In fact I gave up on spending EXTRA money on these extremely expensive and absolutely worthless soft cover boring pieces of shit after a couple of years. The professors are often nice enough to detail what pages “need” to be read for each lecture and I do not recall in my first naïve and ignorant years of university ever being “required” to read  more than eve half any given book – however we were supposed to purchase the entire thing anyway. As matter of bitter fact I remember a course in which I was horseshit dumb enough to purchase only half the required readings and pay attention in class and to my common person surprise the only single instance when THREE BOOKS TOTALLY OVER 20 DOLLARS EACH was even mentioned was on an optional question on an exam in which the student was asked to pick one of the three books to discuss!! What needs to be understood is that professors have no ethical boundaries – they something is “required,” students buy more money after tuition and the prof throws it out the window.  Of course the university hands out these little customer review sheets when each course is finished – the answers of which are kept secret from future students and serve no purpose to those currently enrolled whose grade depends solely on the mood and personality of the “intellectual” who will mark their paper.

At this point I am assuming that many of you would call me a pessimist or even a cynic. To you I say why don’t you throw 25 grand and 7 years of your life down the fucking toilet so you can earn minimum wage and then look at the glass half fucking full!! I’ve heard a lot of people and pupils say “well you learned a lot about research and writing at university” which is bull-fucking-shit because all I did was rap words around quotes and then repeat myself over-and-over again. There is not one god damn occupation (outside of the ivory tower of academia) that pays someone full time wages to write an essay every four months. University gives you nothing to bring to the work force – N-O-T-H-I-N-G! I’ve also heard the argument that “employers” are now looking for people with more than just an undergrad degree because so many people have them these days. To this I say “What fucking ‘employers’? Who are they? For what kind of work? And are they so dumb to believe that even higher education would somehow qualify you for the real world?!” If writing  pointless 10-20 page essays for years wasn’t enough “education” what in god’s fucking green earth is writing an 50-100 pages of boring ass crap going to do for me?! For fuck’s sake I was never even taught to write a memo or been subject to a 40 hour work week!

Is the whole work force just transfixed on this façade?  A piece of paper on the wall? Behind it which exists a waste of time and money…The prejudices of the world flummox me. So many people are impressed by honours degrees, master’s degrees and phds – they are about as hollow and gabbing as the soul and vagina of a heroin addicted dime store hooker! I learned and experienced nothing in university that I could not have picked up on the internet for absolutely free. And that framed piece of toilet paper on my wall should not have cost me – or the taxpayers – anything!

And while many like to suck university’s dick they seem to think of college (community college to the yanks) as something for the commoners or a bit of joke. However in my two years at college I experienced the equivalent to an actual job! Every day I had something new to do and it had to be done by the end of the day – I was responsible for people and to people on a day-to-day basis. I was not asked to maybe or maybe not show up for a lecture, or read or not read boring drivel every week and then come up with 10 pages of crap in four months. I had a serious and regularly stressful schedule – like a real fucking job! However I studied journalism at college which was stupid because you don’t really need a certificate in this to work in the field like you would in accounting or computer programming. In my defence I took this program because I was told to study what I “like.”

Now, I never intended to offend anyone who is or has studied at university to become a doctor or lawyer or gone to college so they could work in a trade. I think the people in programs like these might actually learn something. But what I hope I have accomplished is to piss off anyone who gets paid to write and mark essays at a university. I have also tried to explain to everyone that instead of paying to “study” abstract subjects I am vaguely interested in I could have read a book and used the rest of my money to buy a house, travel the world and have a lot of sex with hot hookers.

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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.

Put down your fucking hand and shut the fuck up

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I was actually going to write about the gays tonight but I decided against it while I was going through some coarse material for my studies. However, don’t be disappointed, I will in the near future, I promise you, be writing extensively on homosexuality and all its’ glory.

To bring attention to the theme under review I will explain to you how this topic came to mind. While filtering through some of my class-wide emails I come across a message from a young pupil of mine who seemed to not understand what was meant by having an assignment do BEFORE class began. And my answer to him is: what the fuck do you think that means? Hand in your goddamn, shitting, C-, piece of living kife in before the start of the boring fucking lecture. This Doctor IQ seemed not to be able to rap his mind around the concept of putting a piece of paper in the hands of the professor outside of the allotted time on his class schedule.

Excuse me sir you’re actually going to need to split the fucking atom or your genitals will be exposed to everyone in class – that is what is meant by handing in an assignment prior to the start of the lecture.

Why do people ask such stupid fucking questions? – “How do I hand it in?” – Shouldn’t you be more concerned with the actual content of your assignment than the obvious protocols for submission?

Another popular question concerning paper due dates is when people ask the professor “can I hand it in early?” To these people I say: “A: no, because you’ll be castrated if you hand it in early; B: get a fucking life and work on your assignment like everyone else by writing its’ entirety the night before it’s due; and C: are you an idiot?”

There seems to be many obvious questions being asked by people that are supposed to be graduating from a post-secondary school at some point in the future and will be a part of a responsible working and business class. You’d think they’d realize that there’s going to come a day in their lives when they are going to have to make a decision themselves without asking an authority figure for permission or advice on something blatantly obvious.

Another thing that gets my panties in a naught is when students ask instructors, or their peers, for information that can be easily obtained by accessing a central database that stores and delivers megatons of knowledge daily – this being the World Wide Web. I don’t how many times I’ve heard someone ask where and when something is due and/or the date and location of an exam or test. Did they think that this information was only available through word-of-mouth? The university doesn’t post exam schedules or coarse outlines you have to interrupt the lecture by inquiring the prof on such crucial particulars. This isn’t directions to a fucking party, this is information that is important and organized through the use of technology that has existed for the past two decades. “What day is the test?” It’s on this invention called “the Internet,” you’re actually supplied with what is called an “email address” by your university/college where you can exchange, post and obtain such trifling facts and figures. It’s not like the prof has memorized the exact room number of an exam that is not going to take place for another two months, or everyone in class knows the day of the week that the final assignment due date falls on. What am I going to pull out a fucking calendar in the classroom? Look it up, stupid!

This kind of paradoxically, hypocritically and ironically (as well as rather eloquently, if I may say so myself) brings me to my next case in point. Over and over again I’ve overheard random kids ask each other what the date is. “What’s the date?!” I should be asking you what millennium this is. Who the fuck doesn’t have a cellular phone, portable computer, or the sense of sight in this year of our lord, 2009? Check your fucking phone for the date! Believe it or not the technology exists for there to be a telephone-clock-calendar hybrid. And what do you need to know the date for anyway? You date your notes? If you’re writing on a laptop that shit is stored! Fucking dates? Who gives a shit?!

I am going to now conclude my exposé by taking a shit on all those flipping, annoying son’bitches that put their hands up every two and half seconds in class so they can squeeze a meaningless, ignorant and completely useless comment in for the whole god damn lecture hall to hear. These people can go fuck themselves. Remember in Full Metal Jacket when the whole platoon beats up that kid with soap because he made things worse for everyone? We need to do the same thing to kids that put up their hands too much. Seriously, they’ve got to go. I know every one of you who is in school has at least one of these bastards in each class and every one in that class hates that fucker. Let’s do it and let’s do it quick – gag these mofos. Our education is on the line, people!

After we’re done smothering these douches we’ve got to address the source of the problem. What needs to be understood is that the instructor is the leader and ultimate authority in the classroom. The teacher alone has the ability to refuse questions from hand-up regulars and/or request they’re shutting the fuck up. It takes some balls but you won’t get anywhere in life without a large set of semen producers.  If there is any training what so ever for college and university instructors (which I sincerely doubt there is) the first thing they should learn is when to tell people to be quiet. This goes for assholes that are having a box social at the back of the class, or the cocksuckers who put their hands up too much. Put those son’bitches in place, sir or madam.

Regrettably, I’ve noticed that a lot of professors actually encourage students to speak out and make comments during class. This is horseshit. Professors that are doing this are attempting to bring themselves down to the level of the common man by having a conversation with someone outside of the ivory tower they live in. As a tuition paying, fulltime student I’m not in class to hear some jackass with no diploma or degree talk about the issues under review, I want to hear the pompous dick that is marking my essays talk. There’s a reason why professors have a PhD. While they’re fully capable, and sometimes likely, to be wrong or bias in their teachings, the degree of reliability in their info is irrelevant. All I want to know is what is going to be on the test. I’ll write down that god created the heaven and earth with all its’ creatures in 10 fucking days a few thousand years ago if it’ll get me good marks on the exam.

Now, I know there are a lot of bleeding hearts out there that say students are under a lot of stress and it is a new and intimidating experience to go to university or college and people act differently or they may not be that knowledgeable of social norms and practices.  My rebuttal to that point is: when we have a consensus throughout the registered students of a class that a small minority are being an annoying douche bag, then these people have to go and we’ve got to feed them to the fucking wolves. It’s like in a zombie movie or story about a group stranded on an island or boat; if someone is going against the grain and holding everyone else significantly back we’ve got to through that mofo overboard. We must move forward. Furthermore, if it is just either you or I, you better be damn sure that it is going to be ME NOT YOU when the shit hits the fan! Put down your fucking hand, stop asking ridiculous questions, exercise some obvious courtesy for the betterment of this fellowship we call the human race.

 

The Logical Debate: An Endangered Species

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I consider myself to be somewhat of a moderate and maybe that is why I am capable of realizing the pros and cons of state intervention and its’ consequences. It is becoming increasingly clear that political debate is less about arguing between bigger or smaller government/higher or lower taxes and more about propaganda, bullshit and an irresponsible ignorance of the facts. The reforms being debated in the US concerning health care, for which I support in its’ most substantial form, is an example of this loss of logic. Up here (in Canada) many post-secondary students this past week took part in what was called a “Day of Action” in the vain hope of lowering the cost of university and college education for those enrolled. During both of these debates there has been very little discussion of the actual pros and cons of government spending – and in the case of US health care debate if such monetary issues are mentioned they are terribly inflated by the rightwing of the political spectrum. Quite paradoxically during Canada’s Day of Action the protesters wanted tuition “lowered” but they failed to comment on how this would be achieved – logically higher taxes or a movement of funds from another area of government spending.

In the United States of America there is something like 50 million people without health insurance. The American “system” of healthcare provides for emergency room service, coverage for the very poor and the elderly. Ironically (or consequently, depending on how you look at it), the US government pays more per citizen than the Canadian government does in our system of universal single-tier healthcare. Any citizen outside of the system in the US leaves their healthcare in the hands of the free market. The problem is many of the 50 mil or so without insurance can’t afford the high costs of for-profit healthcare. So liberals in the US want to allow those Americans to have the OPTION to be covered by the government. Now, a lot of rightwing radical, lunatic, corrupt, unsympathetic, self-admitting ignorant folks in the US who are against such legislation are calling these reforms “Nazism” and/or “Socialism” and/or “Communism.” All these systems of government could not, and do not, co-exist within political and sociological reality, as we know it. Thus anyone who takes the above view against healthcare reform seriously is a fucking idiot. The actual possible flaws of such reforms are, logically, increased government spending, higher taxes for the rich and complications in the registering of the uninsured.  It’s not in any way totalitarianism, it’s simply liberalism and it has its pros and cons – both of which should be considered. Unfortunately there is no actual opposition to such legislation because those that claim to be opposing reforms actually have no idea what the fuck they are talking about and/or are completely corrupt. It is obvious such reforms are necessary and they would inevitably have their costs that are a means to an end and a major component of the progressive tax system that’s existed in the greater part of the Western World since the Second World War.

A similar debate did not take place during the mentioned Day of Action last week. Students across the country protested the cost of what I think is college and university tuition. Not only did the protestors not layout how students could pay less for post-secondary education they were incredibly vague and failed to really stand up for any political cause other than not wanting to pay for something. Firstly, the student slogan was simply “drop fees” – what kind of fees? Tuition fees? What about fees outside of tuition that students are forced to pay as well? Where’s the money going to come from? The government aka our taxes aka the taxes students will be paying by the time they graduate with the jobs they got because of their college diploma or university degree?

The Drops Fees campaign was a part of a bigger movement entitled “Poverty-free Ontario (or Canada I can remember…)” which would lead one to believe that the protestors think of students as poverty stricken. I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb here to state that there is a bit of a difference between me & the guys I party with on weekends and the smelly hobo with the empty Tim Horton’s cup outside the grocery store. Priorities need to be organized a little better than to assume that all students in Canada live in poverty and should be treated as if so. Also, the students who aggressively advocate for “lower tuition”, along with the great majority of the organized far left in Canada, never disclose their actual political contentions. There is nothing wrong with being a social democrat or even a socialist but there is something blatantly insecure and hypocritical about not being able to use those political terms to describe oneself or advocate for higher taxes on the rich along with its’ twin component of more public spending if that’s what you believe is best for the country. Obama and some of the Democrats in the US have the scrotum to discuss higher taxes for the wealthiest of Americans in order to provide assistance for the poor.

I would like to make clear that I am not against the lowering of student expenses. I am a student and a lot of shit I pay for is expensive especially considering it’s impossible to earn a decent living while studying. However, I don’t support blanket legislation that would simply cap tuition and allow for any increases to be covered by the public purse. Firstly the drop out/failure rate needs to be considered when further subsidizing education because all the money spent on students who don’t complete their program is more or less a complete waste of taxpayer’s funds. Money would be better spent in the opening of government funded student loans to include those whose parents are high income earners as well as increases in spending for scholarship offers to students who prove to keep a high grade point average.  While these measures are costly they are fiscally much more responsibly than throwing taxpayer’s money at the hundreds of thousands of students that register every year regardless of their intentions to complete their studies. Secondly, tuition itself is only one part of what students pay when they register for school. If tuition were capped and further subsidized universities and colleges could still charge students enormous fees for what post-secondary administrators could independently deem outside of tuition. This is a very serious issue that gets little or no attention from political elites and student activists alike. It’s obvious that public money would be better spent in weeding out corruption at the university/college level and administering better efficiency than simply “dropping fees.” Students are getting fucked, that is for sure, but we need to know which orifice is being penetrated and understand how we can better block that cock.

Sadly, the above arguments and obvious observations were very much absent from the signs, banners and literature that were part of the nationwide student protest. It should also be noted that education is a predominately provincial issue thus students with signs at Parliament Hill in Ottawa might have got some questionable looks from politically informed observers. Furthermore it is very doubtful that the Prime Minister (even if it was within his, or his government’s, power) looked out of his office on the Day of Action at the protestors situated on a place of grass that is occupied daily by shouting sign-holders with grievances they want the government to handle and thought “today we’re going to listen to this group!” People go to Parliament, Queens Park and any other legislatures everyday to rally. It is no longer consequential to protest in this way, unless the numbers are significantly substantial, because rallies are a dime-a-dozen in this day and age.

Now I’ve attempted to shine a snippet of logic on two very different debates that many people, for some reason or another, are very passionate about. Pertaining to the first issue discussed we have people in the US that want the government to have a bigger role in providing healthcare with the funding of more taxes on the very wealthy and/or a relocation of expenses. And those opposed to healthcare reform are unfortunately either propagandists backed by big medicine or overly nationalistic douches that will get behind anything that uses the words “freedom” or “USA” as long as it doesn’t involve black people or gays. And here in the greatest country in the world students take their turn at waving signs at politicians because they think they are paying too much to get the education that will allow them to become a part of the same hypocrisy that they protested when they were in school. Could either of these be considered a logical debate? I think not.