The professors’ paradox: Increasing schooling by refusing to educate


This column is an opinion by Darryl Whetter, a professor at the Université Sainte-Anne in Pointe-de-l’Église, N.S. For a lot more info about CBC’s Opinion section, you should see the FAQ.

To my poet’s ear, that instrument of tunes, memory, creativity, emotion, and far more, why we strike appears a large amount like that perennial dilemma, and excellent documentary title, Why We Battle.

So several of the lessons I train in literature courses and imaginative writing workshops, lessons in paradox, irony, absurdity, injustice, and the “self-spoil” that is tragedy, confront me each individual snowy day here as I go from not too long ago becoming a member of my brother’s picket line at Acadia College to, now, ours in the initially-at any time strike in 130-moreover a long time at Université Sainte-Anne. 

With learners in three provinces discouraged by latest campus strikes, you may be asking yourself how we profs can wander out on the college students we are charged to teach and who, in strategies, we the moment were. How, you may well question, does heading to the picket lines alternatively of the classroom, library or laboratory constitute the improved discovering ailments for which we assert to be fighting? Allow me give you a person professor’s standpoint.

Training is my spouse and children trade. Our father was a higher faculty trainer. My intimate lover in my 30s taught every little thing from Grade 3 to lecturing at university to teaching some of Nova Scotia’s 1st (and blessedly pre-COVID) on the internet higher college courses. 

Like my only sibling and my spouse, I was a university university student for a ten years. How, then, can I turn my back on my pupils and walk out on them, surrendering my fork out to halt the production of the product or service/assistance/soul transformation that is a college education?

Diluted education and learning

Colleagues in other fields, most of us on our initially strike, no matter if right here, at the University of Lethbridge, or the Ontario Institute of Engineering, or Acadia, where by binding arbitration was essential to finish the month-lengthy strike, might not be so tortured by metaphor. 

With a single of my novels substantially devoted to the To start with Planet War, I simply cannot enable but evaluate the learners I just walked absent from to Good War conscripts slipping on the barbed wire so that future year’s learners could not have their educations so diluted and diverted by the effectively-paid out vice-presidents who have not taught in decades, or possibly even this millennium. 

When, paradoxically, I end teaching today’s students for greater educating problems tomorrow, I do so pondering of what a very good undergraduate instruction can and really should be. 

A person of the programs I have just suspended is a senior-12 months seminar devoted to Portraits of the Artist. My pupils must be looking through these cartographer’s strains from Martin Amis: “[Richard] was an artist when he saw modern society: it hardly ever crossed his thoughts that culture had to be like this, had any suitable, had any company remaining like this. … This is what an artist has to be: harassed to the place of madness or stupefaction by initial principles.”

Faculty assemble to organize in entrance of the picket line on the College of Lethbridge campus previous month. According to Darryl Whetter, professors across Canada are uniting to deliver a concept to university directors: We’re not likely to choose it anymore! (Jennifer Dorozio/CBC)

One particular stupefying and sanity-threatening truth of Canadian campus life is the recurrent, country-extensive determination to make administration the highest paying out of the professorial triathlete’s three functions. Our perpetually finite but perpetually reallocated time is divided among teaching, research, and administration. 

In what I simply call the “vice-presidentification” of our universities, a very small band of administrative plutocrats and the company individuals they appoint to university boards of governors come to a decision that the greatest compensated of individuals a few professorial endeavours really should be administration, the a person endeavor where by you you should not mentor college students. 


Tax bucks arrive to universities to fund educating, study, and scholar everyday living, nonetheless a handful of self-enriching university directors appoint on their own initial to the feeding trough. In this article at Sainte-Anne, we have posted a surplus for five decades managing, which include practically $1.6 million previous year. In the meantime, pupils explain to me of poor residing circumstances in residence and the abrupt closure of all eating halls and eating places on campus. 

Cash ripped from students’ fingers

A recent Toronto Star race-for-the millions exposé of Canadian university presidential salaries reveals that the president of the University of Alberta “took home $960,000 in 2020.” The short article notes that the governors appointed to campus boardrooms arrive there from corporate boardrooms, presumably inquiring concerns like “What would I have earned to be paid out?” Neither aspect, the just one-for every cent directors nor the university governors, most of whom have never taught, appears to care that dollars is being ripped out of the arms of students. 

I’m instructed that one student protester on Acadia’s peaceful picket line recently marched with a indication studying “$341,305,” the salary of Acadia’s president (just before perks like a housing allowance or, at quite a few Canadian universities, a serviced mansion).

To train irony, I usually participate in Pink Floyd’s music A further Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2, with its unforgettable kid’s chorus, “We don’t want no education and learning.” Far more ironic than the grammatical double-adverse is the point that individuals kid singers would ultimately sue for unpaid royalties to recoup a minuscule fraction of the value they contributed to a fortune-generating song. 

Without the need of teachers, none of us would master of rights, benefit, courts, and justice. We all require training, and professors across Canada are uniting to sing a diverse rock anthem: We are not going to take it any more!

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