My New Outlook on Education
By Danny McInnis • Schulich Leader at University of Toronto
I’m now working for 12 months at a company called Safran Landing Systems for my co-op. We make landing gears and brakes for planes of all sizes. As much as I love the work that we do at this company, I also love the activities we get to do outside of the office – one of which really taught me something big the other day and I thought I should share it with all of you.
A bunch of Safran employees and I were volunteering in the basement of a church in North Toronto at an event for the homeless. Food, clothes and basic toiletries were being given to these people, no questions asked. It’s tough for some people to show up – no one wants to be in that position, but a lot of people were really happy about the work we were doing.
One man I was talking with knew I was a student, but I don’t think he knew that I or any of the other employees worked at an aerospace company – this is where it gets really cool. He told me that he really likes books, but can’t get his hands on them. And I was like “really? What kind of stuff are you into?”. I was expecting some subgenre of fiction, but I wasn’t prepared to hear what he said.
He said he wants to get into car design or plane design. He wants to consume any knowledge he can on anything aerodynamics and propulsion – but has never had the opportunity to get that kind of education. Honestly, he sounded like the kind of guy who wants to learn, just to learn – he had a true love for knowledge and I think that is really rare today. A guy like him does not to deserve to be in the position he was – what he said was inspiring, but also disheartening.
Why he couldn’t get his hands on these books made a lot of sense unfortunately – public libraries don’t really carry them and if he went to a school library like I instinctively suggested, he would be kicked out because he wasn’t a student.
I wasn’t prepared to hear this at an event like that. Think of all those times we are frustrated with a course, or tired of flipping through our long textbooks – there are people out there that would do anything to get their hands on these things.
I wanted to do something for the guy even if it was simple and small. I went upstairs where I got an internet signal on my phone and I looked through the Toronto Public Library database of books that they carry throughout the city. I found a few that may be of interest to him and told him the specific libraries he could find them at – picking up those would at least be the start to his pursuit of knowledge in this space.
I think as students we have to take a step back and realize the kind of opportunities we are being given. I don’t think I ever fully realized how lucky I am to get to go to school everyday and I’m excited to go back to school in the fall with a new attitude on learning. I’m sure I’ll be frustrated with that next big test coming up or whatever, but thanks to the nice conversation I had with that man, I now have an immense appreciation for education and all of that information that is thrown at us in class.