Remembering Suzanne

April 4th 2007 Suzanne Klerks passed away. I met her in 2002 when she taught my first year writing course at UCFV. Near the end of the semester I asked for a one day extension on a paper. She responded by giving me a copy of the Little Brown Handbook and telling me I could have a week as long as there wasn’t a single comma splice in the entire paper, a problem I’d been having all semester. I point to that as the pivotal moment in my University experience.

Her guidance over the next few years was key to my progression. It was her who planted the idea of me working in Higher Education, though she originally was encouraging me to look into teaching in Higher Ed. It was her influence that led me to consider my career not as a teacher, but as an educator, something that has led me from high school teaching into Student Affairs with no regrets.

Continue reading “Remembering Suzanne”

Loneliness at UBC

I wish I was still on practicum.  Part of it is that I don’t quite get the reason for being back here so soon.  I was learning more, faster, while I was in the high school.  I’ve come here where we now “reflect” on our experiences.  Like I haven’t already done that?  I’m a Theatre student; reflect is one of our major modes.  So instead of learning how to write a unit plan, or improving on our teaching style, we’re sitting in desks trying to pay attention to information that is either useless, already known, or easily accessible.  Regardless it does seem like a waste of time.  But more than that, I have another reason for not liking being back at UBC.

It’s lonely.  There are tens of thousands of people here, but no one talks.  I know maybe 100 people here.  Actually talk to maybe 40, and spend time with less than 20.  At the high school there may have been less than 40 teachers, but I knew a large number of them.  They talked.  They interacted.  They were real.  Not always trying to seem to be a perfect teacher, lest someone notice that they have doubts.  I love teaching, but I have problems with the program.  I don’t like how they tell us to do one thing, but model something else.  How they tell us that people will react to your expectations, and then treat us like elementary school students.  How they tell us to access prior knowledge in our students, and then tell us that our prior knowledge is wrong.  Why are we jumping through their hoops to join a profession that is completely different from what they are portraying?

Maybe it’s the area?  Maybe surrey is just a more accepting and open area than UBC?  Could it be because of the large number of people on campus that no one talks?  I miss UCFV, I miss everyone talking.  I miss not having an oppressive silence on the buses.  The feeling that I’d be breaking some social norm to talk to someone I don’t know and who may not be in my program. 

Varying Shades of Beige?

At UBC there is a change that occurs when one walks inside.  While one is outside they are connected to the world.  There is nature and beauty surrounding them.  Then you step inside and it all changes.  Narrow hallways are common.  The temperature is obviously controlled.  The walls are stark white, as is the ceiling.  The carpet or lino of the floor is a sharp contrast to the bright colours outside. There are windows, but they tend to be small and barred, as though the room is afraid of being too influenced by the outside world. At UCFV one could walk in and out of buildings without loosing the warmness of natural light.  Without loosing the warmth of colour.  The walls are not white.  The carpets and lino is not designed to be as far from nature as possible.  There is a connection.  We seem to be only one step ahead of SFU here.  At least the outside is pretty, even if the inside is awful.