Have you ever accidentally walked into the wrong class while at university, or college, or even just like the wrong room for something?
This happened to me during my second last year of university. I was in fourth year (I ended up taking five years, but that’s not part of this story) and signed up for a religion class that I thought would be really interesting.
Ya see I was a religion major. Actually, if you want the full short version, I was an honours bachelor of arts student with a double major in political science and religion & cultures. Yup – that’s the short version. It’s a mouthful. But I loved it! It was exactly what I wanted to study and I loved how the two different subjects worked together. It’s one of the main reasons I signed up for this class “Colonialism and Religion in Canada”.
From the title of the class, and I’m going to assume the description in the course calendar, I was expecting this class to cover how religion had changed in Canada since colonization and how that change has affected our culture. I was hoping to learn more about Native religions and how they might have interacted with Christianity as our country grew.
There weren’t too many 4th year seminars offered for religion students so I knew a few other 4th years who were in the same class. We got our books and met up before heading in.
Once inside, we were shocked to see the set up. We all knew that 4th year classes were small, but there were only about 10 desks in a circle and almost all of them were filled with people we had never seen before. You have to understand, in a department like Religion & Cultures, you know everyone in your year by 4th year. It’s just too small to not know them. Who on earth were these people?!
We took our seats, looking like lost little babies, all wide-eyed and scared. They all seemed to know each other, one of the 4th years asked if it was the right room for the class and we were told that it was. And then our professor arrived. She explained that it was a split course – 4th years and masters’ students.
That’s why we didn’t recognize any of the students! They were all in the masters’ program. And they acted like it! For the whole term, the 4 of us who weren’t masters’ students were outcasts. Our voices and opinions were scoffed or challenged daily for being immature or naive. There were lots of eye rolls. But I learned a lot! Especially big words like coercive tutelage. That one was thrown around a lot.
While I appreciated the experience to learn how a masters’ class was run, and to have the knowledge passed around from people who had more depth and understanding on the subject than I did, I honestly hated that class. Not just because my friends and I were seen as a waste of space and the reason why Mr. Never Showers and Miss Chains Herself to Trees didn’t get more talking time.
The class wasn’t anything like the course calendar explained it to be. It was 12 weeks of white people bashing. I’m not here to start a whole thing on my blog, but it was honestly 12 weeks of the masters’ students and the professor saying how white people have destroyed Canada and that the rights of Aboriginals have been squashed and the only way to rectify the situation is to burn our society to the ground and give it all back to the First Nations people.
I’m not even joking – someone literally said that. It was Mr. Never Showers.
What a waste of 12 weeks and $700. I got an A as a final grade because I wrote my papers voicing the opinion that all white people are horrible creatures and should be ashamed of their actions and keep making reparations to the Native populations of Canada. It was ridiculous! My final paper was on racism in Canada and how we push assimilation, not integration, on new immigrants. Which is exactly true but I pushed my thinking way more in my paper just to please the professor.
Do not read that to say that I don’t think mistakes have been made. I fully agree they have. Especially in the forceful taking of Native land in the 1800’s, and in residential schools, and the general treatment of First Nations even today. I understand that and I support those causes. But not to the complete and utter anarchy that happened in that class. It’s such a shame that the professor let the class end up like that, but it was clear from the start that was what she was intending to teach.