Print Edition: February 19, 2014
We are not in high school anymore. Like it or not, we’ve grown up and moved on from the pond in which we circled one another like melodramatic sabre-tooth tadpoles. Most of us lose our angst fangs when we discover the wide, open air of freedom. We acquire the necessary skills to breathe that air — budgeting, applying for jobs, doing our own laundry — and some of us go to university.
One of the pros of university, as opposed to high school, is the ability to learn what you are passionate about. If biology is your bliss, you can study organisms ‘til the cow eyes come home. If you’re a fan of philosophy, probe those deep questions. Do you love language? You can study it more than ever before. The days of breadth requirements are over!
Well, in theory.
There is still the science requirement. For some reason, UFV requires arts and humanities students to take one science course (with a lab) to graduate. So, if I don’t take a geology or astronomy course — there’s a reason I didn’t go into physics — I don’t get my bachelor of arts in English. I’m no math minor, but something isn’t adding up here.
I understand wanting graduates to be well-rounded and smarter than your average rock. (Interestingly, nowhere in the requirements for a bachelor of science degree do I see arts and humanities courses.) However, this is clearly an area where the lines are blurred between university and high school. In the latter, you must complete a variety of courses from different disciplines in order to pass go and collect your Dogwood.
This is as it should be. One of my high school teachers once told me it was important to learn a little bit about everything and everything about something. This was definitely how I mentally reconciled having to take PE.
Science, history, math, English, career planning, physical education, wood shop, computers, transfiguration, sewing, and probably French are all thrown at you by the time you reach grade 12. If you still want more, you can attend university and indulge in the one or two subjects you were actually interested in. In the meantime, we all emerged from our high school ponds knowing a little more than we wanted to about parabolas, or sonnets, or whatever didn’t float our boats.
University is supposed to be different. In university, you narrow your focus from a wide range of disciplines to one or two. That focus is meant to prepare you for what comes after your bachelor’s degree. It is meant to give you the tools and knowledge you need to be an expert in your field, to become an even-more-evolved tadpole — tadpole sapiens, if you will. (Tadpoles again — when did that happen? At least we’re evolved tadpoles now, with no comically large incisors.)
I love scientists. Scientists are great. Scientists are (despite what some government officials may believe) essential to our society. Scientists are probably cringing at my tadpole sapiens joke the same way I did when someone posted “washroom’s are for customers only!” (See that apostrophe? Alas!) Some of the coolest people I know are scientists.
But I am not one. I learned what I needed to learn about science, math, and a great many other magical disciplines in high school. I received my diploma. Then I went to university to study English and creative writing.
Yet right now, one in a handful of courses remaining in my degree, one obstacle keeping me a little further from achieving the next stage in my tadpole evolution — is a science course. Suddenly, I feel like I’m back in high school.