Contradictions of education

Photo by Meagan DiGirolamo

Photo by Meagan DiGirolamo

As unsettling as it may be to consider a University education as something you can simply buy, there is quite a hefty price tag attached to it. Being that we are paying so much, we have the right to expect a quality product, to say the least. Unfortunately, rather than receiving the type of education one would from an advanced and alternative private school, we get something that resembles a burnt out public elementary school.

At Brock University, and every university for that matter, there are many contradictions that hinder our ability to learn and inhibit our success in inquiring knowledge.

Specifically in Education classes, one of the major themes is how the traditional education system polarizes students. Everything from assessments and examinations to dry lectures and restrictive assignments. These are all barriers to individuals to actually learn.

Ironically however, for the very same class that stated that ‘assessments and examinations don’t work’, there are two exams and two mid-terms. Clearly something went wrong somewhere along the line between conception and execution.

Even throughout all the flaws of the education system, we had the correct mix of luck, privilege and resolve to make it past the hurdles of ineffective teaching and polarizing classroom environments.

It is not all a celebration of our individual efforts however, many individuals have been left behind. Perhaps they were unknowingly streamed into college or pushed to the brink of dropping out, but either way, it’s not always laziness that prevents them from getting the package of confetti in the mail (along with an acceptance).

It is no doubt that Brock knows this, one of its largest faculties being education, after all. So why are they letting ineffective teaching and an oppressive learning environment continue? Brock can use its motto of “Surgite!” (or “push on!” translated from Latin) as a cheap justification of the ineffectiveness of everything from the lecture model to the exam environment, but it does not resolve that students are being pushed to mental disorders and dropping out as a result of the way the university functions.

Have you ever met someone who said, “I feel this exam was an accurate assessment of my understanding and critical thinking ability?” I know I certainly have not. It measures a lot: whether or not you can afford the course textbook, whether or not you’re an oratory learner and also whether or not you can effectively memorize a host of notes. This however, is not learning. This is simply beating a test.

Meaningful learning comes from participation, conversation and a journey towards knowledge taken by both the educator and the pupil. Seminars often do this; they facilitate meaningful discussion and promote participation, but these accomplishments are quickly dissolved when you walk through the cattle call to the Ian Beddis Gym on exam day, when you’re ability to think critically, discuss and defend become meaningless. In that gym of educational oppression, little matters other than your ability to memorize notes and colour in scantron circles.

There is no reason we should be taught about the effectiveness of alternative schooling and educational freedom and then remain in an educational dark age. As a centre of research in education, Brock should be ahead of the curve rather than miles behind it. With more students dropping out each day, there might not be much time to change it.

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