Are Universities still needed?

When I was growing up, it was just expected that I would go to University. Today, you can’t even get a job interview without a degree. However, as a teacher, I can honestly say the idea of university has never made less sense to me.

Not personalized/relevant

Thinking back to my own experience, many of the mandatory courses  were just areas of study for my professors, meaning we learned them because our professors had an interest in them. Basically, I paid a lot of money to learn something which had no interest or relevance to my own personal journey.

No vocation training

If the purpose of education is to get a job, and you don’t learn about jobs in elementary school or high school (not part of any curriculum), then at what point should this become a priority? At the very least, Universities should be providing relevant skills and information about possible professions in the area of study.  No?!  At least some fields have co-op, but if you don’t like your experience, where do you go from there? Change majors? To me, this is the primary failing of all universities today. Students should learn in first year studies what types of jobs they can get with this particular major and provide basic vocational skills.

Lacking in practical skills

My friend, who quit university to go to college, said that his favourite course was a communications course where he learned, among other things, basic skills like how to properly compose an email. It sounds silly, but in a world where text is king, many students are not, in fact, very good at communication in a professional manner. There are also many basic programs my friend learned that businesses used, whereas I had none of this in university. I would like to think that all first year programs should include some sort of basic tech and communication training. Bonus if they offered personal finance courses where they learned how to save, budget and pay for, say, university or possibly a house! How credit cards and interest works!


Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame professors who are undoubtedly doing the best they can within the system, but the system is old and in need of a major makeover. In a world where knowledge is available, at all times, at one’s fingertips, universities need to focus far less on the acquisition of knowledge and more on practical skills and basic vocation training. Otherwise students are wasting vast sums of money, years lost when they could have been working and earning money.How would the world look if everyone started earning money 4-5 years earlier? People would likely have kids at a younger age, own homes at a younger age,…Something to think about at least!

Perhaps companies should recruit out of high school.

As they say, hire character, train skill.


SpeakUp Project Grants for Students in Grades 7-12

2017-18 SpeakUp Project Grant applications are open!
Students in grades 7-12!
Apply by Thursday, December 7, 2017 – before midnight, EST.

What is it?

Student Voice aims to promote student engagement and success in Ontario’s schools by listening to and learning from students. Student Voice provides you, the students, with a variety of ways to share your ideas with your school, the education community and the ministry about what would help support your engagement in your learning. Student Voice can help you take action to shape your learning environment while you build your skills.

We want all students to be successful, and we need your ideas and actions to make this happen.

Check out this video to get an idea of what’s changing for Ontario students!

It all starts with you

Speak up! You have a voice, and we want to hear what you have to say about your education. Your ideas and actions are key in helping Ontario’s publicly funded education system reach the goals set out in its Achieving Excellencevision for education. We want to help you make your school a place where everyone feels welcome and where you are empowered to speak your mind, get involved and become active citizens and leaders.

Students told us that you want to:

  • share your ideas with government on how to strengthen student engagement and make Ontario’s publicly funded education system even better.
  • have a school culture where all students feel and know that they belong.
  • work as partners with your teachers, and participate in school decisions that will shape your lives and the lives of other students.

How can you get involved?

There are four main ways for you to get involved:

  1. Minister’s Student Advisory Council (MSAC)
    Each year, approximately 60 students in grades 7 to 12 from across the province are selected to form the council. MSAC provides advice on ministry policies and programs and also meets with the Minister of Education to share their ideas and perspectives.Find out more about the council.
  2. Students as Researchers (StaR)
    Students as Researchers training provides training for student-teacher teams from grade 7-12 in collaborative inquiry research. StaR teams are taught the fundamental components of social science research (e.g. ethics, research design and methodologies, data analysis, etc.).Students work together to identify and research an issue impacting the student experience (e.g. equity, student engagement, well-being or achievement, etc.). For example, teams could conduct research on questions such as: “What experiences engage students in math class?” or “What conditions help students

    Talk to your school principal if you are interested in participating.

    Check out what we’re doing to give students a voice.

  3. SpeakUp Projects
    SpeakUp Projects grants can help you, the students, get your voices heard and take action by leading projects that make a difference in your school. To date, thousands of students in grades 7-12 have actively led or participated in more than 10,000 projects in hundreds of schools across Ontario.Learn how you can start putting your ideas into action.
  4. SpeakUp in a Box
    SpeakUp in a Box is a “do-it-yourself” forum kit which contains everything you will need to run a student-led forum for 30 participants at your school. It includes facilitator tip sheets, a step-by-step forum guide and forum supplies. During the forum your peers share ideas about what can help students be more engaged in learning and school life.Watch a video about SpeakUp in a Box.

    Learn more and order your kit today!

This is your education. Speak up and get involved! Let’s all work together to ensure Ontario’s publicly funded education system remains among the best in the world.

Send your comments and ideas to

See what students like you are saying and doing on Facebook to raise the student voice. Share your student engagement thoughts and activities by liking SpeakUp Ontario on Facebook and posting there.


Khan Academy Offers Cash to High School Teachers


All the technology you and your students love and use — mobile games, medical devices, YouTube videos — are all made with code. Imagine what your students could invent!

Thanks to a partnership with and Google, you can earn $1,000 or more for your classroom by helping your students complete an online, self-guided, introductory coding course.

Register your class

Any public high school teacher can participate! Whether you’re teaching English, math, or art history — if your students can type, they can get started with this tutorial. You can offer extra credit, start an after-school coding club, or spend a week on programming in your classroom. Your students can discover the magic of coding in a 12-hour course at their own pace.

Here’s how it works:

  • Step 1: Register your class at and invite your students to join it. Help them complete the Intro to JS course by March 17, 2015.
  • Step 2: In April, you’ll receive a gift code equal to $100 per student (e.g. if you help 15 students, you’ll receive a $1,500 gift code).
  • Step 3: You’ll receive a wrap-up survey for your students. If 10 or more of you students self-identify as part of groups traditionally under-represented in computer science, we’ll send you an additional $1,000 gift code as a thank you.

Questions? See the full details, which also explain how to get help if any coding questions come up. Together we can help more students learn to code AND bring more funding into the classroom.

Let’s do it!

Pamela Fox
Khan Academy Computer Science Curriculum Lead & Lover of All Things Code

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P.S. Have questions? Take a look at our FAQ and start helping your students discover the beauty of coding, today