Get Out of the Bubble

Nothing is so constant in Canada (and particularly in Ontario recently) as asking (and answering) the question: What’s Wrong with Our Universities?

Depending on who you ask the answer varies: nothing and everything.

The recent op ed piece in the Globe and Mail by Daniel Woolf is a good example of the problem. Woolf is the principal and vice-chancellor of Queen’s University (and tweeting regularly at @queensprincipal; excellent grammar sessions BTW).

After rehearsing once again the struggles of universities (and they are real, we’ve just heard them all before) he concludes with:

“Change will come. But let’s do it right, not just right now.”

Seriously? We need more time to think this through?

In a tweet Woolf reinforces this:

We really don’t know what we have to do in higher education to make it better?
We don’t know the key strategies for effective undergraduate learning?

The discussion paper from MTCU is certainly anemic. Have a look:

But asking for more time is just not on.

We have had lots of time to think about this; we know lots about what we have to do. Apparently, however, we do a terrible job communicating this to virtually anyone.

Time to get out of the bubble.

Perhaps this is just a public tussle with the government over money. OK, I get that. But in the process we seem to be revealing our own lack of fortitude and vision.

We are doing amazing things at universities in this country.

Rather than asking for more time, I think we should boldly tell the public about the transformational things we are already doing for higher education & advanced research. And, most critically, what more we could do with a government onside and willing to help.

Full speed ahead. Now.


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2 Responses to Get Out of the Bubble

  1. Jacqueline Murray says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Mike. This isn’t a question of needing time and ideas. We need to move the pilots and the niche programs into the mainstream and implement change whole heartedly.

  2. Thanks for your simple, direct articulation of this, Mike. Maybe we should send that wonderful blogpost “An Unexpected Ass Kicking” to the university leadership, including MTCU. Russel Kirsch invented the 1st big computer. Because he believed he could:
    “I guess, I’ve always believed that nothing is withheld from us what we have conceived to do. Most people think the opposite – that all things are withheld from them which they have conceived to do and they end up doing nothing.”

    Those who have conceived what must be done must do it.

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