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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Monday 6 April 2015

Education in Canada

The message many in corporate land will take from this is that they are the centrepiece of the economy, and as such all institutions need to be gearing people to meet their needs.  That means lowering aspirations, wage expectations, job security and benefits expectations.  After all, our businesses need to be competitive with others on the global stage, right?

Many University presidents will argue that, with the job market so tight and the future so bleak, it's never been more important for youth to learn critical thinking and develop robust educational portfolios, thereby making them ever more attractive to employers.  In other words, don't focus on them, it's someone else who needs to change.

Ever more pressure will be placed on grades, theoretically, but as is the case with immigration in Canada these days, it's who's got the money that will truly get ahead.  They can pay for higher tuition fees, more tutors - wealthy parents have more friends who can give their kids a shot than parents of lesser means.

This is the way of laissez-faire capitalism; responsibility is the only think that trickles down, as does the pressure to do more with less and be judged as worthless should they fail to do what those of greater means are capable of with ease.

Here's what I know to be true - there will always be those who discourage others from aiming high, either because they want to reduce competition or they genuinely feel there are some people who just aren't capable of amounting to anything.  When people feel like they have no hope, that the best they can aim for is a crap job that pays the bills, there is only so much heart they will have to put into it.

When you've got an economy that's underpaying cognitive labour, the results will be lacklustre.  The average employer will lean a bit harder on their staff, burning them out, nudging them to work past rational limits leading to even more anxiety and depression cases in our hospitals.

Yet we don't have a national strategy to deal with our mental health crisis.  No, we'd much rather spend time tracking the conversations of an increasingly embittered nation.  Well, those private conversations are going to start getting less pretty as more and more people become fed up not just with our politics, but our social system.  

Those who do well within that system will accuse others of sour grapes.  Those who don't will accuse those at the top of greed and corruption.  As always, scapegoats will emerge.  They may even be emerging already.  The picture that emerges isn't pretty, though it should be familiar.

Fortunately, there is another trend out there, but it's barely a blip on the economic radar.

I've written about it a bit on this blog, in various places, including this piece on redefining wealth. I've gone on about redefining social responsibility, too, which involves writing a new social contract.  Canada 150 provides an excellent opportunity for this.  

We all know why it's important to know history.  Any business can tell you why assessing the landscape matters, too.  What we need to get better at is mapping the future and adapt our course to arrive their in dynamic fashion.

Alas, that's not a lesson that can be pushed, sold or hammered into static memory.  

That's the number one assumption we need to unlearn if we're to move forward.