http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/201 ... -education
Improbable research: Canadian law faculties 'like psychotic kindergartens'
A professor of law in Canada likens his own country's law faculties to 'psychotic kindergartens'
A mighty steam organ of an article, adorned with the title University Legal Education in Canada is Corrupt Beyond Repair, blasts forth in the October 2009 issue of the scholarly journal Interchange. It's the handiwork of Robert Martin, professor of law, emeritus, at the University of Western Ontario.
Martin warms up with a little tune about university students: "Each fall, a horde of illiterate, ignorant cretins enters Canada's universities. A few years later, they all move on, just as illiterate, just as ignorant and rather more cretinous, but now armed with bits of paper, which most of them are probably not able to read, called degrees."
Then, in deeper tones, Martin sounds off about universities: "Canadian universities are closed and fearful institutions, which actively enforce uniformity on their members."
Queen's University, he writes, in 2008 "announced that it would establish a cadre of students to spy on other students. These weasels, to be given the chilling and vacuous title 'dialogue facilitators', would eavesdrop on the conversations of other students and, were anything blasphemous or heretical to be said, intervene to steer the conversation in an acceptable direction."
With the mood now established, Martin lets loose with his central theme – legal education: "When one observes a dismal current reality, there is a tendency to assume that there once existed a golden age. The best that can be said is that there was, in the 1950s and 1960s, a bronze age. During this period, some Canadian law faculties managed to reach the level of second-rate American law schools."
Here, as in the rest of his article, Martin sprinkles in a few specific examples. One, especially, provokes thought:
"In 2001, the Dean of the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law decided to transform it into a 'truly great global law school'. As part of achieving this goal, annual tuition fees were to be raised to $20,000 and beyond. The decision of the Law Faculty to pattern itself after a Wal-Mart outlet had certain, predictable consequences."
(Martin's point here is more complex than I could quite follow. He undoubtedly knows that we know that the whole point of shopping at a Wal-Mart store is the fantastically low – not high – prices.)
"The other Ontario law faculties," Martin continues, "brought their fees into line with those at the University of Toronto. Given the wretched quality of the 'education' being offered, fees at this level are both extortionate and fraudulent. If tuition fees were to bear any resemblance to the inherent quality of what was being purchased, they would likely be set at the level of $12 per year."
Martin brings everything to a rousing conclusion that, one way or another, pretty much explains everything:
"There are two phrases that can be used to describe every law faculty in Canada. The phrases are: 'feminist seminary' and 'psychotic kindergarten'."
(Thanks to Martin Gardiner for bringing Professor Martin to my attention.)
• Marc Abrahams is editor of the bimonthly Annals of Improbable Research and organiser of the Ig Nobel prize
Outstanding article. My Grandmother, in particular, felt very vindicated.
While overstated, I can attest to illiterate and semi-litterate students in Canadian universities. Then again, since universities are so unsuited to teach the ABC's, why are they allowed out of high school to begin with?