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Posts Tagged ‘Simon Fraser University’

The value of education

In Inspiration on September 28, 2010 at 9:27 pm

My Alma Mater just got new digs.

What is the value of education?  Why does one spend so much time and money trying to cram as much stuff into one’s brain as one can?  Sometimes I really don’t know.

One of my favourite paradoxes is that ignorance is bliss.  If you don’t know what to worry about, how can you worry about it?  The more education one has, the more one has to worry about.  If I didn’t know there were whales I wouldn’t have to worry about trying to save them.

SFU’s new facilities are very impressive.  Lavish.  Opulent.  But, will they lead to a better education for the students?  When I was at SFU our classroom was an old portable.  There had been a previous 20 years worth of film students using that same portable.  Does this new facility benefit the school?  Unquestionably, the school will reap the rewards of increased exposure, a jewel in its institutional crown, and generous rental fees from outside parties wanting to use the building.  But, if the school’s main focus is the student, none of these concerns matter.  All that matters is that an instructor who cares has the time to sit in the edit suite with an inquisitive student and help them learn to focus their creativity into a specific framework.  The location is of no real importance.

The ‘move downtown and become a satellite campus, or stay on the hill (SFU is located, for some arcane reason, on the top of a dark, cold mountain)’ was raging while I was a school.  The pro downtown side had good arguments.  There is more of an art scene downtown, downtown is cool, we’d be more connected to the arts in a downtown location, we could get some government money to build new facilities downtown, but not if we stayed on the hill, etc.  Yet, moving off the hill always seemed like a bad idea to me.  There is more to going to a University then just being connected to your niche vocational group.  There was a connection to a broader school life that includes studies in different disciplines, involvement in clubs and sports teams, the support of the library, the bad food.  All of this is lost by moving downtown, and I fear that the quality of one’s education diminishes as a result.

I hope I am wrong.  I hope that the students get everything I got from my education, and more.  I hope the school, in its ever feverish growth phase hasn’t given itself one more thing to worry about.  I hope that, perhaps, the portables were not bliss after all.