Teachers with proper support will do their job better
On Oct. 16, thousands of college teachers in Ontario went on strike. Their demands included the need for more full-time faculty, job security, and equal pay. So far, every deal offered by management has been rejected. As the strike moves into its sixth week, more than hundreds of thousands of college students remain out of class.
The latest predictions are that if a deal is agreed to immediately, classes will run until Dec.22 with students only getting a week off for their winter break. The fall semester will then resume in January, and the study break in February is being cancelled by La Cité collégiale and possibly by Algonquin, too.
This obviously constitutes an unfair punishment of students as none of them opted to take all this time off. Many have presumably booked trips home for the holidays, and now through no fault of their own are being forced to change their plans with no consideration of their financial situations. However, I am in full support of the teachers.
More than 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians launched this strike—not to defend their own career interests, but above all to put a stop to prevailing practices where educational outcomes are measured in terms of money. And while the students are absolutely blameless here, they should understand that in the grand scheme of things the teachers are ultimately fighting for the students’ long-term interests as well, and, above all, for the future of the post-secondary educational system.
That being said, there are a number of ways that instructors could have better handled the situation. They could have limited the number of assignments or tests, put in fewer classroom hours, or, better yet, they could have tried negotiating with unions in other provinces so as to make their campaign a federal issue, and thus strengthen their case.
The Algonquin College website includes student and employee updates on the current situation, with many of the students being active on social media. One can easily read thousands of comments, mostly opposing the strike.
An educational system run like a business will yield nothing more than entitled graduates who will then perpetuate this unfair, exploitative system. Step into the shoes of a teacher for more than a day, and you might discover that they are, by nature, among the most caring, patient, and compassionate people. A society where teachers constantly have to worry about their job security while struggling for work/life balance is not and never will be in the best interest of students. It will, ultimately, fail the future generations of those accessing education.
If Algonquin College’s mission really is to “transform hopes and dreams into lifelong success,” it can start by showing more compassion to their teachers.