Ukraine, Canada, US: Differences in Higher Ed

Reader twicerandomly always comes up with the best questions for me to answer so I will respond to them in separate posts.

The first question concerned difference between higher ed systems in Ukraine, Canada and the US.

The greatest difference, I believe is the purpose and the scope of education provided. The post-Soviet system produces people who acquire a spattering of everything but no profound knowledge of anything. There isn’t anything like the specialization (called a Major) in North America. Everybody at the Humanities department takes the same courses without having any choice in the matter. Graduates end up knowing a bit about everything but not prepared for any actual employment.

In Canada, the system is the exact opposite. Unless you make an effort, you can easily take only the courses in your area of specialization and end up extremely narrowly specialized and very ignorant about everything but your tiny little field.

I think that both systems are problematic and prefer the US system that makes all students do both a specialization in a single field and a wide variety of courses from all disciplines. Students end up more well-rounded and enriched not only as future professionals but as human beings as well.


“Have you considered putting your hair in dreads?” the hair stylist’s assistant asked. “Your hair is made for dreads.”

“If I walk into a classroom wearing dreads, students will think I’m mocking them,” I said.

“She’s a professional,” the stylist explained to the assistant. “She doesn’t have a dread-type job.”

P.S. Does anybody know why every single contact I have with the outside world is so hilarious? I’m not looking for comedy. It just happens around me.

A Jewfro Walked Into a Hair Salon

So I went to a new hair salon today.

“Wow, this is some crazy hair you have!” the stylist excalimed.  “It’s huge! And frizzy! And impossible to comb! How did you come by this kind of hair?”

“It’s Jewish hair,” I explained.

“Oh my, is this a Jewfro? I’ve never seen one in real life. Cecilia, Taylor, come right over here, you’ve got to see this! It’s a Jewfro!”

Later I heard the stylist scold the receptionist.

“Why didn’t you tell me we had an ethnic client coming in? I left all of my ethnic-hair brushes at the other salon.”

“How was I supposed to know she’s ethnic?” the receptionist defended herself. “Does she look ethnic to you? We’ve had, like, people from Bulgaria and Romania and what not before, and they all have normal hair.”

Reader Appreciation Series: Pen

Pen is a very talented, resourceful and courageous young woman. She has been a reader of my blog since the time she was still in high school. For a while, I though Pen was having me on about her age because she was too brilliant and accomplished to be so young. Since then, I learned that there are some pretty awesome kids out there and Pen was not misleading me about her age.

Pen is curious, intelligent, dedicated, loyal and amazing. She’s been going through some tough times  but she is strong and resourceful and I know she will come out as a winner in her struggle. Let’s give Pen some love either here or on her blog.

Pen, you are wonderful, you are great, and you matter. Remember that people love you and care about you. You are not alone.

Justifying the War in Iraq

From WashPo:

The sudden collapse of Iraqi forces in the face of lightly armed insurgents has catalyzed an emotional debate within the U.S. military about a war that, just a few years ago, seemed on the brink of going down in history as a success.

What this journalist (and everybody who is gleefully reposting this article) doesn’t understand is that the rise of ISIS will serve as ultimate proof for many Americans that the American invasion of Iraq was justified. Just the other day I heard a gentleman tell his buddy at the gym, “Remember all that talk about how we shouldn’t have gone in to Iraq because there was no Al-Qaeda there? And now everybody’s seeing we were right the entire time. Our only mistake was leaving too early but that was, you know, that President Oh-bama.”

WTF, Spain?

In case somebody is unaware, things are not going well for Spain. The economy will take forever to recover, Catalonians are freaking out, corruption scandals are mushrooming, the possibility that there will be no Spain quite soon is strong, and even the World Cup brings nothing but two humiliating defeats.

Yet in the midst of all this, crowds of adults decide it’s a good moment to play “kings, queens, and princesses” and abandon themselves to the game like they don’t have a care in the world. Spanish newspapers have become unreadable because all they publish these days is “His Majesty said this and Her Majesty did that.” Believing in Majesties in year 2014 is a bizarre pursuit for anybody but it is even more idiotic for people whose royal family has disgraced itself with shameful corruption scandals just recently.

I love Spain with a blinding passion but after reading several articles expressing the belief that the new king will “save Spanish democracy” I’m finding it hard to avoid the feeling that “Spain is different” albeit not in a good way.