All Posts Tagged With: "geography"
Why Canadians shouldn’t feel so smug about this video
A video is making the rounds showing students at Harvard University struggling to answer a simple question of world geography: what is the capital of Canada? Canadians love this game. We congratulate ourselves for knowing plenty about the US while looking down our nose at Americans who know nothing about us. And the fact that even the best and brightest Americans—Harvard students no less—are so ignorant, well that’s just the whipped cream on the ice cream isn’t it?
But it’s a silly game and we should stop playing it.
For one thing, in videos like this there is no way of telling how many students came up with Ottawa but weren’t shown in the final edit. For another, we should acknowledge that at least most of the students seemed embarrassed by the fact that they didn’t know. And besides, Canada, unlike the UK or France or Japan, is one of those cases where the capital city is not the largest or most prominent city—so it’s a tricky question. I bet most Canadian students think the capital of Australia is Sydney.
But the main reason we should stop finding ways to feel superior to Americans when it comes to a world knowledge, is that, if we faced facts, we would have to admit that we are not much better. Sure we know a fair bit about the US because we are awash in American media, but what about the rest of the world?
Indeed, if you are a Canadian university student, why not take a little test right now? Consider, for example, the world’s ten most populous countries. Can you list all of them? And if you can, can you name the capital cities of each of them? I’m going to assume that you know the capital of China is Beijing, but what about India? Mumbai? Guess again.
Put your hand up if you know the capital of Brazil. Now put it down if you thought it was Rio de Janeiro—it’s actually Brasilia. Do you know the capital of Pakistan, the world’s sixth most populous country? How about Nigeria, the seventh? Can you name any cities in Nigeria?
Don’t get me wrong: I think world knowledge is important. But there is a lot more to knowing about the world than knowing game-show style trivia. It’s more important to me that people know more about efforts to reduce poverty in Bangladesh than the fact that its capital is Dhaka.
Let’s hope they are studying that at Harvard. And everywhere else.
Todd Pettigrew is an associate professor of English at Cape Breton University.
Students and staff embrace an unofficial mascot
It’s Canada Goose nesting season at the University of Waterloo and that means students and staff are tiptoeing across campus avoiding sharp black beaks and mucky grey puddles.
“You don’t need to antagonize or even get near the nest for the alpha male to get aggressive,” says geography and environmental management student Alex Harris, who spent the past year studying the five-to-seven kilogram beasts.
Those alpha males and their pregnant partners take up residence in dozens of places at the sprawling Ontario campus every year where grassy lawns provide food, buildings offer shelter and there are few coyotes, foxes or wolves to keep them in check.
Colin Laroque earns a 3M National Teaching Fellowship
Colin Laroque, a Geography and Environment professor at Mount Allison University, is a 3M National Teaching Fellowship recipient for 2013. Maclean’s On Campus is profiling all 10.
Growing up in inner-city Saskatoon, the outdoors was always a refuge for Colin Laroque. While he witnessed substance abuse and tensions between the First Nations community and police in his day-to-day life, the weekends were an escape. Out on the family farm, Laroque, a Métis, and his elders would track a fox through the snow, go fishing and explore the forest. “That’s how they taught me and that’s how I learned the sights, the smells, the feel for things,” he says.
What students are talking about today (January 15th)
1. An 18-year-old Capilano University student named Rosea Lake (a.k.a. Rosea Posey) has received 275,000 notes on her Tumblr site after posting her feminist artwork “Judgments.” The photo shows a woman with a skirt hiked up and a series of words written on her leg that begin at her ankle with “matronly” and end at her buttocks with “whore.” She told The Province her message is for people to stop judging women unfairly by how they dress, a.k.a.”slut shaming.”
2. U of T students are being accused of planning an orgy. “The University of Toronto Sexual Education Centre is kicking off its annual Sexual Awareness Week next Monday at Oasis Aqua Lounge, a downtown club that bills itself as a water-themed adult playground, where swingers are welcome and sex is allowed everywhere but the hot tub,” reports The Toronto Star. “We’re not funding an orgy,” external education and outreach coordinator Dylan Tower, 22, told The Star. “People are allowed to have sex [but] there is not any type of ‘You should be having sex when you’re here.” So, in other words, students can have an orgy if they want to, but it’s totally optional. The SEC is affiliated with the University of Toronto Students’ Union and is funded by undergraduate student fees. Tower told The Star the event is a safe way to introduce curious students to the sex club scene.
Subject rankings for psychology, law, economics…
Here are the top five highest ranked universities in the QS World University Rankings by Subject and the rankings of all Canadian schools for arts, humanities, and business. For science, engineering, and health disciplines click here. For the full rankings, visit TopUniversities.com.
1. Harvard University (United States)
2. University of California, Berkeley (UCB) (United States)
3. University of Oxford (United Kingdom)
4. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) (United Kingdom)
5. University of Chicago (United States)
16. University of Toronto
33. McGill University
40. University of British Columbia
45. Queen’s University
51-100. Université de Montréal, University of Alberta
101-150. McMaster University, Western University, Université du Québec, University of Waterloo, York University
151-200. Carleton University, Concordia University, Dalhousie University, Laval University, Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, University of Ottawa, University of Victoria
3M Teaching Fellow Sue Vajoczki shares her philosophy
Sue Vajoczki, Director of the Centre for Leadership in Learning at McMaster University, was an evangelist for experiential learning long before it became a buzzword.
Her field, geography and earth sciences, lends itself particularly well. “You can’t teach earth science without seeing and feeling the landforms,” she explains.
But Vajoczki thinks opportunities to learn outside of the classroom are too often squandered. ”Many people can think of the field trip where they got in a school bus, went to a site, were told about a monument, got on the bus, went to the next monument—and then forgot,” she says, “because there was no active learning taking place.”
Active learning takes place, for example, when students not only see a landscape and hear a speech, but measure it, draw it, discuss the processes that might have shaped it, and then consider the implications for human beings.
Vajoczki is one of 10 new 3M National Teaching Fellows who have agreed to share their teaching philosophies with Maclean’s On Campus. She believes that experiential learning—with appropriate preparation and reflection—can help all learners.