#55 – Getting Schooled, Part Four: Dishonor Before Failure

English Canadian students have little to no sense of intellectual curiosity.

We’ve discussed before how Canada has little to no sense of curiosity, and nowhere is this more apparent than with regards to undergraduate students. Asking ‘how to get an A’ is a question that should disqualify the inquirer from ever achieving one, but in Canada this is standard routine. English Canadian undergrads don’t read their textbooks, don’t attend lectures, and don’t care about the material in any case. The goal is entirely to get an A and thus a leg-up in the eternal shitshow that is the Canadian job market, because nobody has done that before and the only people without jobs are the ones who got Bs in school. Academic interest is not why the English Canadian goes to school.

And they really don’t want to fucking work for a degree. It’s a business, dammit, and these kids are paying for a degree! Never mind that the degree is supposed to confirm that they have a certain skill set – faking it is better than making it, right? Without the piece of paper, you’re double-doomed instead of regular doomed! Perhaps this is why cheating is endemic to Canadian schools. The sense that one has to cheat to get anywhere and that ‘anywhere’ is wholly defined by a grade results in a culture of fakery rather than one that encourages meaningful inquiry. Academic integrity and pride in having the knowledge that comes from years of intensive thinking, discussing, debating, reading, and arguing isn’t possible when conversation boils down to how  best to game the school so as to get the best mark to in turn find a job that doesn’t exist. Who needs pride when you have fraud?

Of course, the school itself makes a tidy sum off of this mooing desperation for numbers and grades. Desperation means students, which means tuition; caring means expelling students, which means less tuition. The logic is no deeper than that. Canadian schools are notoriously inactive regarding punishing cheats, and why would they be when it costs them coin and pisses a client off?

After all, there’s no way that a cadre of intellectually-curious people trained to find examples of abuse, neglect, and failure while finding policy fixes for those problems could be useful in Canada! And if such a thing did exist, there’s no chance that a university with its books and scholars and such would be a useful place for such a group to convene and operate. As we all know, nothing has ever happened or been inspired because or by the research of an interested person in a university. If Canada looked at its problems, it might have to acknowledge that they are in fact real.

Given the choice between progress and thought or profits for universities at the expense of everything else that a university is supposed to do and stand for, is there any real question which option Canada would choose?

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