Seeing it is better than getting it

I’m about to start working on a presentation for first year political science students at UQAM here in Montreal. I’m asking myself what exactly it is  that I want them to understand about what it means to pursue an education in the liberal arts, and the implications of said decision upon one’s inevitable job search.

Five years and a Masters in urban planning later, what have I garnered from my BA? A lot of information paired with a corresponding ability to process and analyze it, but a lack of practical application of much of the theory I was taught.

Last month, I ran into a professor I had back in my bachelor’s, and upon telling him about my Libyan adventures and experience of the job market, he asked me to come talk to his first year students about how their choice of studies can impact their lives. And also something about Libya, which leaves me with the difficult situation of commenting on a country in the midst of a liberation process.

So what did I want to tell them? I gave this some thought, and came to the conclusion that I wanted to question the way students chose theory over observation, especially in political science. For me, I know the use and claim of street art  was a real eye opener,  it helped me bridge the gap between the truth in the books and the reality found when intervening in where we live.

I do hope this year’s TEDp prize winner will help them understand that. I didn’t need to include this video, but I think it’s pretty incredible how JR’s project takes an unexpected genre (caricature) to take stabs at political and social clashes by diffusing them into the city or on a community’s daily stage.

When I look back at the time I spent at school, taking in lectures, I realize my brain was too saturated to look for what I thought was truly interesting, or worthy of more than just scholastic attention. I guess that’s one of the reasons TED is so popular: it brings you back to that one brilliant, interesting, relevant teacher who made you want to run the extra mile. I hope this video will be of great help to me when I try to tell a room full of first year poli sci students to be daring and cross over to other subjects to see, and not just get the bigger picture.


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