New Starts and New Missions, Jamming, 28/12/2017

I still have a bunch of notes from going through What Is Philosophy?, and I’ve written up some more thoughts on some of the commentaries I’ve been working on. I find it rather curious that many of the major names in Deleuze Studies™ are based in Canada.

Something about this country these days that feels welcoming to a philosophical community who revolve their thoughts around the creativity of difference. Canada can be an oasis today from the nationalist extremism that’s burning Western democratic traditions to the ground.

The icons of a movement are more than people;
they're pastiches of imagery that express raw desire.
If we defend it, of course. Democracy must always be defended. Freedom has never not been under siege. To be free is to be under siege.

You could call these my final thoughts on 2017. I’m not going to attempt some grand summary of the year to date. I’m not paid enough to write this blog to attempt anything so massive as that. History, in progress, now feels properly overwhelming to people. India and Africa, for example, are just as full of events and madness as the West, to name only two examples.

I feel simultaneously hopeful, agitated, and afraid of the future. Personally, more opportunities are opening in my professional life – a new job in Ontario’s education sector with a proper middle-class salary, real responsibilities, and real respect.

I do want to put to keys and screen some plans I have for the future. A few things that are ending and a few things that are beginning. I want to do as much of what I can that I can, because I’m no longer struggling to survive.

For 40ish hours each week, I’ll be working as Education Manager for Anderson College, a small trades college – business, some medical sciences – in northern Toronto. Basically, I make sure all the programs run smoothly, and that we keep up with our programs’ accreditation needs as we maintain and grow.

It puts an end to five years of contingent, precarious employment as a teacher and communicator. I never fit in well among the more mercenary culture of communications and public relations firms, but my position at Anderson lets me use the skills and conceptual frameworks I learned for that field in my daily work. A lot of my job falls under internal communications, liaising between instructors and college leaders.

While this changes the schedule of my research work, it won’t be detracting from it. I’ve taken over at Digital Editor at the Reply Collective, and expanding the reach of this platform will be my major publication project for the next year. I’m working on a few content strategies, but I’m only just starting my outreach to promote the platform and bring in new contributors.

My work here feeds into my work at Anderson because one subset of social epistemology – the study of social and political aspects of knowledge production – is education studies. So one direction the research at the Reply Collective will cover (among many, many vectors) is education theory.

I might make a return to some of John Dewey's ideas about the nature
and purpose of education as a starting point for this new professional
direction in my life and thinking.
Beyond that, I want to use contemporary research in education to improve accessibility and quality throughout Canada’s college and university education sector. Here’s one medium-long term goal that I want to work toward from my position.

This year’s public college instructors’ strike in Ontario was an unmitigated disaster in terms of the union’s leadership. Essentially, they walked ass-backwards into an unwinnable strike that alienated most Ontarians from any empathy with college teachers for the next generation, minimum. But one of their major issues – aside from the horrible inequality and terrible compensations most college teachers live with – is curriculum updates.

Generally speaking, Ontario public college curriculums are horribly out of date. This is because the only people with the authority to update curriculums are high-level college administrators. But they don’t move to update the curriculum until government employment surveys reveal that their graduates no longer have the required skills to build careers in their fields.

Facing this massive mismatch of learning material and working conditions, the colleges undertake a total and expensive overhaul of whole programs. The instructors’ union wanted teacher input into this process to make small, piecemeal updates that would save costs overall. A continuing process of updating curriculum as industry conditions shift and fluctuate.

Such a process is ordinary for a private institution like Anderson College, and there’s no reason why it can’t be done in larger institutions. I’m ultimately responsible for the programs of just over 300 students. But such a sensible policy needs to apply throughout Ontario – tens of thousands of students.

My work as an education manager, students’ advocate, and global research hub coordinator has this larger goal of improving education for Canada’s largest province – ultimately for my entire country of about 36-million people.

That’s the journey I’m beginning as 2018 begins. At the beginning of this year, I had no clue I’d get here. Hell, a year ago, my day job was still at the delivery department of IKEA Etobicoke. I am beyond grateful, and I will not let the people of Canada down.

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