It's no secret that the job market for youth graduating from post-secondary education is competitive and challenging, with youth unemployment rates being twice the national average in Canada. A combination of both education and experience can be the ticket to an initial interview, however, youth are often faced with the 'no experience, no work; no work, no experience' dilemma.
As much as I am passionate about what I teach, I am more passionate about the people I teach. I am more interested that they are content and happy -- that they are not under undue duress or strain; what is the point of spouting out facts and figures, as important as they might be, if the students' heart is not in it? If their belly is empty?
After moving when I was 16, I was enrolled in a brand new school, close to our new home. My new teacher, Mr. T, was unforgettable. What I remember now as a teacher myself was his smile. His laughter. And I remember that he saw me. There are times in our service as teachers when we set aside the habitual act of doing for the sacred work of being.
How did York University initially validate the request of a student who said for religious reasons, he couldn't interact with women? Unfortunately, perhaps it is because organizations are so afraid of being sued for failing to accommodate that they have lost the sense of what is a proper request for accommodation. Many would argue that what they have lost is their common sense.
I was concerned about Kate and I met with her in person. When she told me what was going on at her firm, it became clear that there was an element of sexual discrimination or harassment. Articling students facing such harassment have few choices. They could make a complaint to the Law Society, file a complaint under the firm's internal workplace harassment policy (assuming it exists), consult an employment lawyer or perhaps bring a human rights complaint. The power dynamics of articling make such options not particularly appealing to most students. So most would stick it out.
Not enough young people believe they can change the world on a global scale. The problem is a mindset problem, and one I believe is more dire than some might think. Too many young entrepreneurs think they're rock stars by launching another social network, or naming themselves the CEO of the world's 498th messaging app. Honestly, they're probably wasting their time.
At UBC, every lone male is a potential attacker, yet it is only women who are being escorted. Why not accompany all single men on campus after dark? Not only does this place responsibility on possible perpetrators rather than on potential victims, but it changes the dynamic completely. What a powerful statement it would be for men to stand in solidarity with female students by walking escorted as well.
A few years ago, I was dealing with some mysterious health issues. I was having trouble with my stomach. Having trouble with my skin. My respiratory system. My mental health. I was having trouble, and thus feeling in general like I was ten years older than I actually was. My stress levels were through the roof, and I was also having anxiety attacks. Then four words from a doctor changed my life: "Start where you are."
I have come to realize that my initial understandings about inclusive education and what it entails were wrong in that they were off-course as to the desired intent of inclusionary teaching. My initial belief was that inclusive education was okay, so long as it was equal. I now realize that inclusion doesn't need to mean pure equality.
Sometimes when I stop to look around and analyze my life, I notice that I'm not the only twenty-something year old who doesn't have their life figured out. Each September only serves to nail that point home, in a grim yearly spectacle I call The September Blues. The annual march of students back to school feeds the nagging suspicion that I may not be doing this whole "life" thing as well as I could be. I'm not alone.
To teach is to forever be a part of something bigger. Is to forever be a piece of that sacred puzzle which creates something profound from that which is very small. That is the beauty of the life of a child. To teach is to touch lives. To listen. To lift. To motivate. To compel. To inspire. To encourage. To enrich. And above all, to teach is to use one's life to make a difference.
There are various reports about the amount of scholarship and bursary money that goes unclaimed each year. Some reports suggest that it could be over $15 million. While the exact number is hard to quantify, the point is there are millions of dollars that can be leveraged towards your future education. But where is the money, and how can you find it?
The younger portion of Generation Y -- the students still roaming college campuses -- must work at a breakneck speed in order to create the lives that they desire. If they sit at home and relax, then their degree will net nothing more than a full-time gig at Starbucks, or so they say. Thus, there is increasing pressure to make oneself suffocatingly busy, setting aside virtually no free time for creative activities. We are caught in a cycle of one-upmanship: volunteer more, study harder, work longer hours.
We sit, huddled tightly together in the cramped space of a corner. The blinds are darkly drawn, the door is shut. Locked. Little bodies press in close together to the wall. I place my body as a barrier along the tips of their tiny feet, all the while smiling into anxious children's eyes and modelling breathing.
If anyone had told me three years ago I would be teaching kindergarten, I would have politely laughed at them. If anyone had told me one of my students would be my charming daughter, I would have (politely) laughed at them and then high-tailed it for the next bus out of town. The truth is, I love it.