Quand j’étais étudiant…

Je fais partie de ce que l’on se plaît à nommer la Génération X, la génération no future, la génération perdue, la génération des enfants des Early Baby Boomers, celle pour laquelle il y avait plus de candidats que de jobs à la sortie de nos études…

Même si je suis maintenant dans la trentaine avancée ;-), je dis souvent que j’ai encore 20 ans… dans mon cœur. En effet, une des plus belles périodes de ma vie, c’est quand j’ai fait mes études universitaires au Baccalauréat et ensuite à la Maîtrise en Administration des Affaires à l’Université de Sherbrooke dans les années 90. C’est pas si loin mais quand j’entends et je vois les étudiants universitaires ces temps-ci, je me dis: « Mais qu’est-ce qui a bien pu se passer pour que je me sente à ce point déconnecté de leur monde, de leur réalité? » Celle-ci me semble tellement différente de la mienne au même âge. Pourtant à peine 15 ans nous séparent…

Au risque de sonner vieux, j’ai pris plaisir à sortir quelques éléments qui font qu’aujourd’hui, cette période est gravée à jamais dans ma mémoire.

  • Starbucks n’existait pas. Quand on voulait étudier, on s’achetait une grosse canne de Folgers pis on se coulait des Silex géants. On étudiait en groupe dans le sous sol d’un copain. C’était l’fun et économique.
  • L’ Université de Sherbrooke était la seule à offrir le régime coopératif permettant aux étudiants de faire des stages rémunérés en milieu de travail pendant leurs études. Ces revenus additionnels m’ont permis de compléter mes études avec moins de dettes et d’avoir un an d’expérience en finissant. J’ai appris beaucoup pendant ces 3 stages.
  • Je n’avais pas de téléphone cellulaire (en fait, personne en avait) et certains de mes amis n’avaient même pas de téléphone à ligne dure à leur appart. On était capable de se rejoindre et de se parler quand même assez souvent.
  • Quand on voulait se payer du resto pour décrocher, on allait prendre un maudit gros déjeuner-diner pas cher. Je me commandais un « Bonjour-Matin » chez Eggsquis, le café était à volonté avec un gros pichet direct sur la table. Calories, caféine et évasion temporaire à bon prix.
  • On organisait nos propres partys à la Faculté, on obtenait des rabais volume de Molson nous permettant de vendre la bière 1,50$. On trouvait le tour de faire de l’argent pareil. C’était l’fun et économique.
  • Mes amis se promenaient en Volkswagen Fox très très très usagées ou en Toyota Tercel de 300 000 km payée 200$ ou avec d’autres bagnoles rafistolées ultra polluantes. Moi j’étais chanceux. Mon père m’avait vendu 4500$ une Toyota Camry 87 rouillée. Je lui ai remboursé au complet une fois sur le marché du travail. J’ai appris que toute dette doit être remboursée même pour un char fini.
  • Pour me rendre à l’université, j’y allais à pied pour ne pas payer de stationnement.
  • Quand je sortais de Sherbrooke avec ma voiture, je remplissais mon auto avec des pouceux d’Allo-Stop pour payer mon essence qui se vendait 0,45$ /litre à l’époque.
  • Une grande partie de mes amis n’avait pas de voiture et s’organisaient. Il n’ont rien manqué à cause de cela. C’était juste plus tannant pour faire leur épicerie mais on s’entraidait.
  • Quand on a voulu faire un voyage dans le sud, on s’est organisé un Séminaire en Marketing International au Mexique. On est allé visiter des entreprises là bas avec notre prof. On a payé avec quelques party, un tirage d’un voyage dans le sud et un peu de nos économies.
  • Mon entourage immédiat n’était nullement constitué de ce que certains carrés rouges appellent avec mépris « gosses de riches« . C’était essentiellement des jeunes animés d’une passion commune qui savaient qu’un avenir meilleur, rempli de défis, les attendait après leurs études universitaires.
  • Certains s’endettaient plus que d’autres mais tous savaient que ce qu’ils décrocheraient au bout de leurs années d’efforts, avait une valeur pour et dans la société; que ce n’était pas gratis. C’était un passeport pour accéder à mieux. Tous comprenaient que c’était les règles du jeu. Tu t’instruis, tu investis temps ET argent et tu peux aspirer à quelque chose de mieux que si tu étais resté assis sur ton steak.

Pourtant, à mon souvenir, personne n’a manifesté ou n’a senti le besoin d’aller dans la rue quand le gouvernement en place a décidé d’ajuster les frais de scolarité afin qu’ils reflètent mieux la réalité de ces années.(voir graphique ci-bas)

Donc, pendant mes études universitaires, le plus gros rattrapage a été effectué en matière de frais de scolarité. De 1990 à 1996, hausse drastique. Personne ne s’en est offusqué. C’était normal. Du rattrapage. C’est cela vivre démocratiquement en société, c’est faire sa part et ne pas croire que tout nous est dû.

Alors pourquoi tant de bruit  en 2012 pour un simple ajustement des frais de scolarité alors que la situation des finances publiques est encore plus précaire qu’en 1990? C’est de l’égocentrisme crasse.

Je pense que le vrai débat se dissout dans plein d’autres revendications anticapitalistes qui viennent déformer les discussions et qui n’ont pas leur place dans CE débat sur les frais de scolarité. C’est en partie pour cela que plusieurs ont peur de se prononcer sur ce débat parce que la CLASSE l’étend et le déforme. Sur le fond, cette hausse est tout-à-fait logique. Si on juge que celle-ci doit être mise en place, n’ayons pas peur d’exprimer notre opinion.

Plus de détails ici si les faits et les chiffres vous intéressent.

L’accès n’en sera pas diminué. De toute façon, pour paraphraser mon bon ami Martin:

« Dans les faits, le vrai « driver » d’aller ou non aux études au Québec est le DÉSIR ou non de faire des études post secondaires. That’s IT. »

Publicités

Marketers, Another Wake Up Call Video. Pay Attention.

I discovered this video via the Facebook page of Patrick Patparazzi Landry. It is the same type of short video, full of stats and thoughts, that makes you realize that the world of marketing is changing and it is changing fast. A few stats that you will discover in that video:

  • This year, traditional advertising is in steep decline.
    • Newspapers: -18.7%
    • Magazines: -14.8%
    • Radio: -11.7%
    • TV: -10.1%
  • My Space, You Tube and Facebook did not exist 6 years ago. They collectively get 250 million visitors/ month.
  • 90% of the 200 billion emails sent everyday are spam.

This is another official update to the original « Shift Happens » video. This completely new Fall 2009 version includes facts and stats focusing on the changing media landscape, including convergence and technology, and was developed in partnership with The Economist. For more information, or to join the conversation, please visit http://mediaconvergence.economist.com and http://shifthappens.wikispaces.com.

If you liked this one, you might also want to review this one about Social Media Revolution or this one about the Re-Invention of modern marketing. Similar contents, different formats, same powerful reality check. Great content, great stats.

Sources:

Content by XPLANE, The Economist, Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod and Laura Bestler. Design and development by XPLANE, http://www.xplane.com. You can follow them on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/xplane

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What is School for?- A Reply to Seth Godin (Part 2)

head-clickme2Last week, I wrote the first part of a reply post to Seth Godin about what is school for? I commented his list here. His post about education was really interesting and was designed to ignite discussion. You can find it here. Because his starter list contained 27 statements summarizing the purpose of school, I broke down my reply in 2 posts. In this one, I concluded with my take on his 17 last statements. I looked at his list with a marketer’s perspective with emphasis on university degrees.

11.Create leaders who help us compete on a world stage

School does not create leaders. School might in help leaders to demonstrate improved leadership skills but I strongly believe that leadership is something you have within you. It only grows better if sufficiently stimulated and given enough opportunities to be demonstrated. Strong leaders that do not have the chance to be surrounded with people willing to risk with them do not emerge.

12.Generate future scientists who will advance medicine and technology

That is one of the most important goal of schools and university. On that matter, I have nothing to add. Strong university programs equals better scientists and eventually better quality of life for each of us.

13.Learn for the sake of learning

As mentioned in the part 1 of this post here, I loved school and I love to learn. School is good for people who love to learn and the opposite is even truer… But I have a small problem with learning for the sake of learning. This would sound OK for you in your daya to day life or in your spare time but for a university? No. And that is part of the reason why, as a manager, I feel that students waste precious time at school learning stuff that is completely irrelevant for the future job they will occupy and miss important learning requirements. One example:  how to create a marketing budget? This accounts for about 30 minutes teaching time in a 3 year marketing degree…

14. Help people become interesting and productive

Productive? Probably yes. All the methodologies learned at school to think in a more rational way pay off over time. Become interesting?  It is not because you know more stuff that you suddenly become more interesting. Think about a Mr. « Ph.D Professor » at University. He knows a lot. Is he interesting? He could, but it is mostly because of his presentation skills, passion and inherent capacity to turn his class into an interactive exchange than solely because of the ton of knowledge he accumulated.

15. Defang the proletariat

From a societal point of view, I fully agree with this one. Education, including University degree make population smarter and richer and therefore defangs proletariat. This is good. No doubt about it.

16. Establish a floor below which a typical person is unlikely to fall

University helps you raise your standards and your quality of life. University degree pushes it a step further. However, saying that you are unlikely to fall below this floor is illusory.

17. Find and celebrate prodigies, geniuses and the gifted

That is why all the academic programs feature awards for the best performance and governor’s medal and so on. Our search for the next Einstein or Darwin is relentless.

18. Make sure kids learn to exercise, eat right and avoid common health problems

Ouch! This may be true in the US where Seth lives, I don’t know. But in Canada, over the past few years, this is quite the opposite. My daughter who goes at an elementary schools has 1 hour of physical education every 10 school days! Not enough to develop habits that will follow you for the rest of your life. To me, that part is more a parent’s responsibility but many of us do not invest enough time with the consequences we all know now.

19. Teach future citizens to obey authority

Isn’t asking too much from our education system? Expecting this from our schools and universities contributes to let parents play an even more laid-back role on that very important matter. This should undoubtedly come from parents and school should only play a complementary role on that aspect.

20. Teach future employees to do the same

Idem as #19.

21. Increase appreciation for art and culture

True for school but not so true for university. It depends on the program you picked up. In Business/ Administration programs, there is not so much room for arts and culture. Anyway, this is a matter of personal tastes. If you have interests in arts and culture, you will find a way to increase you level of appreciation though other medium.

22. Teach creativity and problem solving

True for problem solving, not so true for creativity. Problem solving methodologies could be learned at business schools and the more you practice, the better you become. To me creativity is a little bit like leadership. You gotta have a minimum level within you in order to build on something. Yes, school can help kids develop their creativity but this aspect becomes less and less important as you step up in our educational system, especially in business classes. The emphasis is more on the transfer of knowledge than onto the growth of your creative skill set. Moreover, academics tend to be allergic to creative problem solving. They prefer solutions that have been proof- tested than out of nowhere creative approaches.

23. Minimize public spelling mistakes

This is true. This is a typical example that the more efforts you put into something, the better you become at it. Most university degrees involve a great deal of papers to read and/or to write. Same for oral stuff. The more you practice, the more interesting you become (normally). In that sense, university is a great incubator for future writers and speakers. At least they’ll know if they have a future in that direction.

24. Increase emotional intelligence

I do not get this one. ;-). I have learned more in the past 6 years about emotional intelligence (from my kids and my wife) than with my 17 years spent at school and university.

25. Decrease crime by teaching civics and ethics

OK, civics and ethics are subjects that are discussed at school. This should complements what should be mainly transmitted by parents. However, saying that crime is decreased because civics and ethics are taught in school is far-fetched. Seth, is there a study done somewhere that confirms that assumption? To me, school and education might contribute to decrease crime indirectly but increasing our quality of life and helping to defang proletariat. (And this brings us back to point # 14)

26 Increase understanding of a life well lived

This a very personal and individual thing. Everyone has its own definition of a life well lived. I do not believe school of university should try to standardize that so that everyone has the same definition of what should be a life well lived.  I think school is a facilitator to help us define what should be our very personal definition of a life well lived.

27. Make sure the sports teams have enough players

That one is really funny! There are many ways to interpret it. I will let you draw your own conclusion on this one…

Any thoughts? Express yourself below.

What is school for?- A Reply to Seth Godin (Part 1)

seth-godinSeth Godin recently wrote a very interesting post about education. You can find it here. He established a starter list of 27 statements summarizing the purpose of school. (In my current post, I will give you my take on his 10 first statements. I will do a part 2 of this post to reply to his 17 other statements on school’s purposes.)

I loved school. I really enjoyed doing my degree and my masters’ degree in marketing when I was in my early 20s. Seth’s list refers to school “in general”. I decided to give it a different look. A more specific perspective like “What is University for?”  and since I studied marketing at university “what worth a marketing degree?”

In today’s fast pace marketplace in which knowledge and expertise become rapidly obsolete and replaced with skills and experiences required by the “new marketing”, I tend to minimize the value of a marketing diploma over time.

So, let’s take Seth’s list about « what is school for » and dissect it with that twist in mind.

1.Become an informed citizen 

School does a great job to prepare our brain to empower us and make acceptable judgement calls on numerous subjects. University is just the extension and therefore the refinement of it. However, it largely depends on the citizen’s mind openness. I have seen many people with no degree who are better informed citizen than people with 2-3 diplomas. It is more a matter of personal attitude than school attendance.

2. Be able to read for pleasure

This one should be “Be able to read business books for pleasure”. Too many  business people stop reading once they get their first job. This is the beginning of their lack of professional competitiveness…. Never stop reading. Reading business books should be as pleasurable as reading thrillers.;-)

3.Be trained in the rudimentary skills necessary for employment

That is probably the first and foremost reason why we go to university. And that is a fact, this is truly rudimentary skills. About 80% of what you learn at university is not usable in your first job. The remaining 20% requires important adjustments to be applicable but I believe it is the rational methodologies learned at school that serves you the most by providing you a rational and scientific approach to execute your work. The diploma is the passport to get you a job interview and some may be promotions early in your career. After that, your experiences take up all the space.

4.Do well on standardized tests

Standardized tests are a necessary evil and unfortunately, our society and labor market is based on standards. Play the game. Do them. Do not try to fight against them.  If you are brilliant, you’ll make your way and differentiate yourself with other attributes than your performance on standardized tests…

5.Homogenize society, at least a bit

University homogenizes through similar teaching methods, programs and tests. I have a problem with that. This willingness to « uniformize » slows down the renewal of what is being taught to future managers and contributes to create a growing gap and a major disconnect between what students learn at university and what is being required by the marketplace. Which takes us back to point #3.

 

6. Pasteurize out the dangerous ideas

This one is closely linked to point 5. Dissident voices are not very welcomed at university. This is not necessarily better in the « sexy » marketing departments of business schools. They want one simple consistent speech with proven methods. Authors like Seth Godin are not very popular with academics.They preach with great examples and common sense and it doesn’t seem to be enough… Academics want the scientific method. Therefore, new ideas that are emerging are not even discussed at university until they are proven with a strong history. Too late for the poor student who desperately want to hear the latest stuff. Don’t read marketing handbooks to get that, start to read blogs!

 

7.Give kids something to do while parents work

In the case of university, this one should read: “Give parents something to work for”. University is very costly for parents full of ambition for their kids. This is even worst in the USA.

8. Teach future citizens how to conform

This one goes on with the “society standardization” aspect (see point #5). University just contributes to accentuate that level of conformity. University is very good at teaching us how to think and behave. I do not see conformity very positively. Conformity in the long run, leads to mediocrity.

 

9. Teach future consumers how to desire

 

 

Personnaly, I would reformulate this one more like “teach future consumers what they need ». The whole concept of desire is slowly disappearing. At the very moment when we think we might need something, the period for which we « desire » it is shorter than ever. We want it buy it.Now. We did not buy it? Then the need is replaced with another one leaving no space for desire. In that sense, I do not think school teaches us how to desire. The potential to desire something is within us with variable strength. School has nothing to do with it.

 

10. Build a social fabric

By opening up our minds to other cultures, other point of views, school and university indirectly help us to build a social fabric and a less individualistic society. This is probably one of the greatest benefit of university for society. However, university only reinforces what has already been initiated by schools and since there is only a small percentage of people which goes to university, we shouldn’t expect too much from it on that aspect.

 

 

I will continue with the other 17 items in Seth’s list in the part 2 of the post in the coming weeks. UPDATE Feb 23rd, 2009: The rest of the list is in the part 2 of this post here.

Any thoughts? Please do not hesitate to comment.