Towards a More Progressive Marianopolis

By Alfonso Fernandez 

Edited By Amanda Barnard 

When thinking about the future, we usually picture flying cars, robots living alongside humans, medicine that can cure any kind of disease, you name it. The more that time passes, the closer we are to achieving these realities. We already see technical advancements within the automobile industry who are beginning to make self-driving cars, The creation of jetpacks, and even some efforts towards the beginning of artificial intelligence. Science and technology are prosperous, propelling us further into our idealized versions of what the future looks like.

This is, however, not the case in every aspect of our lives. While we thrive at understanding more about the world that surrounds us, we sometimes fail to take a step back and understand ourselves. If our ways of understanding the world are evolving so much, our methods of teaching should as well.

The education system sometimes seems to be stuck in the eighteenth century. Sure, our teachers no longer physically punish children when they fail to understand the basic concepts of a course, but that does not necessarily mean that we have reached the best possible environment for students to learn in. Many post-secondary schools are changing outdated aspects of its systems, so that students can learn in an alternative, but possibly better ways. Dawson College is a good example, with their “New School” project. This projects allows a different way of learning, by getting small groups of around a dozen students to get together on late afternoons or evenings a few times a week, and have a class structured in a way that students are having a conversation with each other, rather than simply receiving a lecture from their teacher. Of course, a teacher is still present to guide these discussions. Although this allows students to have more freedom, to think for themselves and interact with each other. This system may not be effective for every student’s learning preference, but offers a choice to those who see themselves greatly benefiting from a learning environment similar to Dawson’s concept. All around the Western world, initiatives like Dawson’s “New School” are being developed to enhance student’s learning experiences through different forms of teaching. Yet, here at Marianopolis College, hailed by some as the best anglophone Cegep in Montreal, we do not seem to have any such progressive program in place.

Historically, our college has been offering an excellent education to thousands of students, but maybe it is time for some things to change, even if we must start by taking baby steps. This is what humanities Professor Vanessa Sasson intends to do. Sasson has launched an initiative that she has been working on for years: to get at least one room at the College where students can learn in a different environment, even if the content of the course is exactly the same. This room would be completely differ from any other classroom in the school. Instead of having thirty desks with uncomfortable plastic chairs, Sasson envisions a room with couches, bean bags, standing desks, or any other support that would increase a student’s comfort in class. This would not only help students feel more relaxed while learning, but it would also take from the physical (and consequently, the mental) strain of sitting in the same position, on the same uncomfortable desks for several consecutive hours every day. What is there not to love about this idea?

For the duration of this week, Sasson’s goal is to get the highest number of signatures from students, faculty, and even parents who want to support this motion. If you would like to help get at least one room like this in the college, you can find either Professor Sasson, myself, or any other student with a petition form. Alternatively, you can sign your name on the Google form linked in the article (or here). Every signature counts! If this proves to be a success, we will be closer to a more progressive Marianopolis, and a better system for the future of education. The choice is yours.


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