Gratitude from A to Z: Universities

Gryph statue at University of Guelph campus

I'm grateful for universities and one university in particular, the University of Guelph.

The U of G has been a touchstone throughout my life. My parents are Guelph alumni along with two of my siblings, my wife, daughter and many other members of my extended family. I spent my career as an educator and administrator employed by the university. Friendships I cultivated as a student and employee continue to enrich my life.

Universities are not perfect places. They struggle with bureaucracy and funding issues that impede creativity and progress. Universities operate on a medieval faculty and everyone else hierarchy that is dated. While the tenure system protects academic freedom, it also shelters incompetence and laziness.

A university education is not for everyone. I have witnessed first hand the waste of time and money when uninspired students enrol in programs of study they had little or no interest in. But I also witnessed the tremendous personal, professional and intellectual growth that the university environment provides to students who are passionate about seeking knowledge and understanding of things.

Universities are centres of innovation and discovery critical to society being able to face challenges like climate change, environmental degradation, population growth and hunger. They are islands of free thinking and creative collaboration in a world that seems to becoming more and more anti-intellectual and ignorant.

I am grateful for universities and the intellectual ideal they represent.

2 comments

  • Krys

    Krys St Marys

    It is sad that some students seem uninspired but I feel that in later life some of the ideas they were exposed to might yet be responsible for something good in their lives and in society. After all, they say exposure to the one adult who pays attention can change a young person's life for the better even if they have been abused and neglected all the rest of it. I'm not sure what the answer is when so many achieve the heights by not finishing school and so many more get nowhere. Somewhere there must be more flexibility to recognize and nurture talents hidden from the industrial education model. This is an area where teachers and parents and other systems could work together more effectively perhaps. Better than abandoning children to one or the other, especially when the one might not be gifted in that area. Definitely a topic for a lot of discussion

    It is sad that some students seem uninspired but I feel that in later life some of the ideas they were exposed to might yet be responsible for something good in their lives and in society. After all, they say exposure to the one adult who pays attention can change a young person's life for the better even if they have been abused and neglected all the rest of it.

    I'm not sure what the answer is when so many achieve the heights by not finishing school and so many more get nowhere. Somewhere there must be more flexibility to recognize and nurture talents hidden from the industrial education model. This is an area where teachers and parents and other systems could work together more effectively perhaps. Better than abandoning children to one or the other, especially when the one might not be gifted in that area.

    Definitely a topic for a lot of discussion

  • Rob Witherspoon

    Rob Witherspoon

    Thanks for the comments Krys. Seth Godin has written a scathing critique of the industrial education model. It's lengthy but very thought provoking: https://seths.blog/2014/09/the-shameful-fraud-of-sorting-for-youth-meritocracy/

    Thanks for the comments Krys. Seth Godin has written a scathing critique of the industrial education model. It's lengthy but very thought provoking: https://seths.blog/2014/09/the-shameful-fraud-of-sorting-for-youth-meritocracy/

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