One Thought To Start Your Day
Many years ago – I think it was when I first got elected to student council – my grandfather gave me a copy of a 1908 satirical book on academic politics called the Microcosmographia Academica (available online here) by F. M. Cornford. Addressed to “the aspiring academic politician”, it is still very much worth a read today, especially if you’ve just been elected to Senate or have taken on some significant administrative duties. Not all of it ages well (bits … [ Read More ]
You’ll remember a couple of weeks ago I took the Ontario NDP to task for an absurd meme about the provincial government “profiting” from student loans. But it occurred to me later than though there is no way the charge sticks against the provincial government, it arguably might about the federal government’s Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP), which both borrows more cheaply and lends more dearly than the provincial government. So I decided to find out.
The data I am using … [ Read More ]
Written exams are such a major part of our schools and universities that we forget sometimes that they are not actually native to the western system of education. How did they become so ubiquitous? Well here’s the story:
Originally, the Western tradition eschewed exams. Universities offered places based on recommendations. If one could impress one’s teachers for a few years, one might be invited to audition for right to be granted a degree. In medieval universities, for instance, one obtained … [ Read More ]
It’s a reasonably common occurrence for academics to diss non-academic professional staff. “They’re taking over”. “They’re not like us”. “They’re ruining the university”. Book-length whinges (not very good ones, mind) have been written about this.
These whinges usually combine two distinct arguments. The first has to do with the mere existence of some non-academic positions, who often act as the interface between the academic institution and the market (think research services, alumni/advancement, recruitment, marketing and – God forbid – branding). … [ Read More ]
A few weeks ago, there was an absolutely hysterical story on CBC about a Fraser Institute report on carbon taxes. You can read the article for yourself, but the argument was basically this: carbon taxes are bad because they would have a disproportionate effect on people in lower income brackets.
Assuming you believe the Fraser Institute actually gives a rat’s hairy behind about people in lower income brackets, this is not an entirely stupid point; multiple studies in the US … [ Read More ]