Fumbled Focus

August 5, 1998
by Michael Townsend

As always a must call for me is the University of Saskatchewan. I parked over by the Diefenbaker centre where I can walk Bear after I complete my rounds. I usually begin with a walk around the 'bowl'. Many changes have occurred here as new buildings have arisen on its borders. Girls in their skimpy summer attire have nothing to do with the my need to come to the bowl first, of course. I then go to the library to check out the new books section and just sit and breath in the very comforting odor of the books on the fourth and fifth floors; walk through the tunnels reading all the posted ads, and just wonder through and sit in some of the classrooms. I then make my way to the book store where I always leave with a 'jewel'.

This day's find was a tiny book, just 92 pages, called "The Elements of Style" by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White whose first edition was published in 1919. Great little book which I will keep handy as I struggle with writing projects. But while I was at the book store I discovered something very disturbing.

As is usual I go to the Education section and then Psychology section. The Education section, which in my time covered almost two isles, both sides. Now it covers barely one. I was appalled; EdPsych, EdFoundations, EdCurriculum completely decimated! I even found some books that I used when I here 12 years ago. But in fact the Education section hadn't really gotten any smaller. Now almost all of the shelves were filled with Native Studies material, stacks and stacks of this stuff much of it in the ilk of the bitterness of "April Raintree". I am in favor of supporting Native education and providing materials to sustain this, but not at the expense of essential educational materials. It seems to me that the burden of guilt Education may be feeling about the way they dealt with this minority in the past has run amok.

My nephew recently made the decision to attend the U of S with the thought of taking Education. But thank god he has switched to Commerce.

The Psychology section had a similar look. The only issues that this section seemed to want to deal with were women's concerns. Now at the front of the store was one of the best computer sections of any store I have been in. This section has been cut in half, replaced with a Women's Studies section and more Native stuff. I got seriously depressed! (and the psychology section had nothing in it to render aid.)

What do you think? Have I lost my perspective on this? Are there not other important issues besides concerns of just natives and women? Is this shift a simple correction or has it washed over everything? What I feel is not racism or sexism, although if this appeared in any published form it would appear that it was. Is it just lack of balls to just say no to this push to extremes? Balance in view is not racism.

(you can reach Michael by email mtownsen@cln.etc.bc.ca or if you have an opinion on this or any article you read in Ensign drop us a line. Photo of U of S campus by David Mandeville, DAVS)