Shloka Jetha is a woman who has always been on the move. After growing up in seven countries, the 23-year old has finally settled in Toronto and is pursuing her dream of working with at-risk youth. Part of what appealed to her about the new Professional Addiction Studies program at McMaster Continuing Education is that it’s online, which means she can set her own schedule and study on-the-go when she’s away from home.

But of course the biggest draw is the way Jetha feels the program will complement and expand upon what she learned in her McMaster degree in sociology, as well as what she is currently learning in a Child and Youth Care program at another school. With the goal of someday working in a clinical setting like the Sick Kids Centre for Brain and Mental Health, Jetha believes the more practical information she has about addiction and mental health, the better.

“I’m learning a lot in my current Child and Youth program,” Jetha enthuses, “but for me there is a bit of a knowledge gap that the McMaster Professional Addiction Studies program will help to close. It’s an incredibly complex field, every situation is new, and you need to be able read between the lines and understand the difference between what a troubled kid is saying and what’s actually going on in their life.”

Jetha believes that having the rich background knowledge the Professional Addiction Studies program will provide, and being able to link that information to her work in the field, will help her excel faster. Most importantly, she feels it will make her better and more effective at helping and healing kids in crisis.

“I’m specifically looking forward to gaining more knowledge about pharmacology, but also about other things as it’s difficult to learn on the job,” Jetha says. “I can learn a tremendous amount from the kids I work with, and that’s invaluable experience, but coming to them with a deeper knowledge base will allow me to talk with them about drugs and alcohol in a way I otherwise couldn’t.”

Jetha has been fortunate not to be personally touched by addiction, but has lost friends and people in her community from overdose. She is also familiar with the impact of this complex issue through the volunteer work she has done.

Even though this is an incredibly demanding career path, it’s one Jetha is proud and honoured to walk. She feels the good outweighs the bad and is determined to continue learning and helping as much as she can. The Professional Addiction Studies program at McMaster Continuing Education is uniquely designed to help her achieve that goal.

Applications for Spring term are open until April 29, 2019. Learn more at mcmastercce.ca/addiction-studies-program

 

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By: Stephen Clare

I’ve been to every lecture of GEOG 3EE3. I’ve taken good notes, reviewed them regularly, and understand the course material. I’ve even gone to the professor’s office hours a few times.

Please don’t tell the Geography department.

You see, I guess, technically speaking, I’m not actually in the course, per se. Like, it doesn’t show up on my timetable or SOLAR. I also haven’t done any assignments or written any tests. The registrar’s office wouldn’t be able to tell you where I learned about the physics of solar heating or the future of global oil demand.

I honestly tried to get into the course, but repeated emails and course waiver submissions fell on deaf ears (or rather, blind eyes) and the drop/add date passed without me being able to register. I was disappointed, because the course content is super relevant to my capital-F, capital-P “Future Plans.”

So, I thought, screw them. What are they going to do, drag me out of the lecture hall? I just took the class anyway.

I attended lectures, took good notes, and checked up on my fantasy hockey team while the professor gave advice about assignments and reminders of upcoming test dates. Instead of furiously copying the minutiae of each slide, I noted what interested me and ignored what I found boring. For homework I browsed articles on whatever concepts struck my fancy rather than writing lab reports and article summaries.

“Taking” GEOG 3EE3 has been positively relaxing.

It’s made me think about how often I’ve let going to school get in the way of me learning things. We’ve all been there, robotically putting pencil to paper and mirroring the writing on the chalkboard while our thoughts turned to the Leafs’ latest embarrassment or what exactly she meant by “see you later” (like “later tonight” later or just “see you around” later?). Some days you can fill a page of notes without even knowing what course you’re in.

That’s why it’s been so nice to learn for the sake of learning rather than learning for my degree. It’s a whole different mindset, like the difference between opening up a novel and opening up a textbook. These are the same classmates, the same powerpoint designs, the same sickly yellow glow barely illuminating the same grim lecture halls. It’s just that I love this room when I’m left to focus on the material, but resent it when learning carries the added pressure of knowing all-important marks are on the line.

Obviously there’s a big, scary system that needs us to do assignments and write tests. It’s a machine that eats transcripts and craps scholarships. And like all horrible, impersonal systems it makes us feel small and powerless.

But there’s joy and value in the learning itself. And at university, I’m surrounded by thousands of people that know a whole lot and do this weird thing where on a weekly basis they stand at the front of a room and just talk about what they know. It’s good to hear them talk. It’s good to learn from them.

Sometimes, it’s just good to know stuff.

Stephen Clare
The Silhouette

 

I am told that that there are no easy answers. I inquire, I research, I compare and contrast. I “examine all sides of an issue.” I weigh pros and cons and call for further analysis. I approach opposing arguments with a receptive mind and carefully consider each point, concurring and countering as needed. I try to be critical and open-minded and eventually settle on either a tentative conclusion or, with a regretful sigh, an acknowledgement that there are no easy answers.

But I long for the easy answers.

I am caught between opposing viewpoints, paralyzed by an overload of information. Each solution seems differently flawed, this argument as problematic as the next. Ideology is rejected as blind and static, but without this anchor I drift aimlessly. Beyond the easy answers I find no answers at all. They may have led me into failure but at least they led me somewhere.

So I long for the easy answers.

Each thought that tumbles through my head is followed by a barking counter-point. Sentences with conviction collapse under their own weight.

God, I long for the easy answers.

Oh, I have principles. Sustainability. Respect. Justice. Guiding lights that I can look for in ideas and policies, or checkboxes to be ticked. But for every principle an argument holds it violates another. Maybe it bolsters sustainability but sacrifices individual freedom. Trade-offs. Weights on a scale with no unit of measurement.

How can I function in this paralysis? How can I vote, how can I support initiatives, how can I engage in debate as a participant rather than a bystander? How can I act?

It is you all that did this to me. It is the articles that appear in this very paper, it is the discussions that take place in these very classrooms, it is the people I have met on this very campus. You have infected me with this eye-opening, maddening, headache. I can see all sides of the square but it’s made me cross-eyed.

And is it not ironic that by questioning the disease I reveal its very symptoms? The easy answer is to start accepting the easy answers, but to accept that is unconscionable.

Because an easy answer is not an answer at all. I know that. I get it.

Still, though.

I long for the easy answers.

Kacper Niburski / Silhouette Staff

If you are reading this article, then you already know. You’ve always known. You were raised knowing. When you asked a question, it was found in slow evaporation of ignorance. When you uncovered a mystery of the Universe, it was behind the whispered curiosity if something as whimsical as a truth could ever possibly exist. Even now as you surf through the vestigial media of the past – a newspaper – you understand.

Hell. That’s why you’re here. That’s why you stay here. Because from a very young age when you asked why the sky was blue or how rainbows formed or if Santa really fit in the chimney, you learned that knowledge is power. Information is power. And you’ll be damned if anyone told you otherwise.

But even you, dear reader, have had some doubts. You’ve seen first hand that sometimes it only matters who you know, not what you know, and you comfort yourself with the fact that that this is something you know very well. Besides that, the inane facts you’ve learned over the years feel static without some active creativity behind them. Without constant stimulation, they flare and wane, eventually sitting idle in a cerebral black hole alongside your grandma’s birthday and basic algebra.

You’ll be the first to admit that some days, knowledge seems a fad no more permanent than a slinky. This is not entirely your fault, however. It stems from the fact that the power knowledge brings with it isn’t yours to begin with anyways. In fact, it never was. It was, and remains to be, with those who hold the information. For they, and only they, can express the undifferentiated mass of everything we’ve learned and everything we haven’t in a way that’s accessible for everyone.

While this seems falsely utopian in nature, listen: underscoring the tacit feeling that we’re all in this – whatever this thing is – together is the drive that we’re learning about “this” so others don’t have to. For no matter how selfish our desires may be, we are not that which comes and goes. We are footprints, handprints, writings and vocal traditions. We are stencils on caves and the unmistakable smells of calcium carbonate on a chalkboard. We are stories told around campfires. We are laughter and tears and happiness and sadness. We are the Bible and the Quran. We are the Rig Veda. We are Macbeth. We are Catch-22. We are a history that stretches from the Serengeti to the Tundra that has gazed upon the stars at night and has soared with the likes of them too.

And it is in these stars floating around a world we did not create, a body we did not ask to be born into, and a Universe that seems just as much as a hilarious accident as we are, where humanity’s legacy stems. There among the celestial bodies waltzing in the seamless black blanket of the sky, our knowledge expands only to find its limit. It is contained in our Universe defined by some edge, and we, so far as we know, are the only ones who are conscientious of that fact.

Yet even with this knowledge, even with this power, we have become victims of our brilliance. Aaron Swartz, an unparalleled programmer and Internet activist who took his life on Jan. 11, knew this well.

Cursed with an open mind coupled with an unrelenting passion for the betterment of humanity, he understood that only by possessing such inborn intelligence and such a wealth of knowledge could we have devised systems that hurts more than heals, that widens the wealth gap between otherwise equal humans, that works to punish the poor and those who challenge the powerful, and that locks the very cultural information we have been born into behind an array of corporate interests and private wealth. In short, he knew the pain of being human.

In an attempt to rectify this pain, he tried to change the world. Besides creating Reddit and Really Simple Syndicate, both of which have become foundations of the Internet, his work was dedicated to make the world a better place for us all.

While his most recent selfless act has been marred in complexities, it shouldn’t be the case. Any way it’s told, he remains the Robin Hood of information by attempting to bring the academic world out of the puppetry of private greed. By accessing four million documents on JSTOR, a nonprofit academic online library within MIT, he was charged on twelve accounts of felony and could have faced up to thirty-five years in jail.

Murder, slavery, and pedophilia have shorter terms.

Yet the senseless severity of the punishment brings to light the very needed discussion on cyber legislation, something being seen widely as a threat in the political world. No matter what comes from this, however, I will remain to be incredulous. Trying to bridge the Old World with the New results in the massacre on the scales of Columbus. One side loses, the other wins. Always. My only hope is that it’s the New World ushered by the Internet that will win out again.

Aaron hoped as much. In 2008, he wrote, “With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge – we’ll make it a thing of the past.” I’ll add a secondary wish that privatization on information will become vestigial knowledge reserved only to frighten children on the failings of humankind.

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