The Learning Curve:
the hidden agenda in music/media education.  

Facade:  an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant or creditable reality.

I vividly remember the early days of teaching at Trebas Institute where I worked at the Toronto campus (back of McClear Place Studios).   The year was 1986 and I was 30 years old.  Cell phones didn’t exist yet and the internet was still 10+ years away.  The coolest thing one could own was an Apple Macintosh (Mac Plus) computer ($2700) that had one full MB of RAM and you could make music in it with this thing called MIDI.  I was one of the first in the city to buy one.  Make no mistake about it though, I was a musician first and foremost.  I had 5 guitars and I wanted to be a rock star.  Performing was a blast and the party action?   Let’s not even go there.  I loved Toronto.





The music business was active back then (compared to today).  There were record companies (in the city even), signing new artists and paying big money for albums and videos to be made (a new thing called MuchMusic) and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time – at the front of the line.  It was exciting.  I enjoyed teaching, having a regular job for a change and getting to be in a recording studio every day (and actually making a decent living doing that – for a musician that is). 

Just a few years earlier, I had graduated from MIA (Music Industry Arts), in London Ontario and had moved to Toronto, with my eye on making it in music (as an engineer/producer/artist), knowing that moving to the big city was the only way that could happen.  In less than 5 years, I was signed to a major label record (production) deal and teaching was just a bonus; just plain fun (and I was good at it).  Money had been sporadic and I spent most of my label advances on studios and gear, so rent and food was an additional challenge, not to mention a new baby girl in my life.  This part-time teaching job helped with all that.  I was obsessed with music.

Teaching came natural to me.  I loved showing young people how do do shit, esp. the gifted ones.   I distinctly remember a cattle-call of sorts that the school put on that July, with some of us teachers at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Toronto, all with the intention of recruiting new students for the September start that year; my first real plunge into private vocational education.  We on the panel were the ‘industry experts’, and kids came from all over the province (many with their parents), mostly because they had seen or heard an ad and were curious.  Canadian artists such as Bryan Adams, Corey Hart and Glass Tiger were top of the charts and the appeal was very real. 

What sticks out most for me was that each of us on the panel had an opportunity to stand up, come forward (to a podium and microphone) and address the audience (of a few hundred) to talk about our program, mine being Recorded Music Production. 

I remember the first thing I said was a question to them … ‘how many of you in this room want to be record producers” ?  Almost all their hands went up, predictably.  You see, it was simply my intention to discuss the fantasy (vs. reality) and to suggest that graduating from Trebas was a chance to explore the options and opportunities in media, other than the music business (which was the school’s primary meal ticket).  I wanted to address the potential in Film, Television, Advertising and even Corporate media because the music business was still a lottery at best, and presented as the only thing on the menu that afternoon – all dessert and no main course. 

Not a whole lot of nutrition.  It was then that I decided … if I’m going to do this teaching thing over the long haul?  I have to be honest about it.




Looking out at the room full of hands up after my question, I then said this … “ok, there are more hands up in this room right now, than there are successful record producers in this entire country”.  There was a chilling silence, followed by a moment of disbelief, jaws down and a lot of people thinking WTF … not only in the audience but also on the panel, all of whom were looking a tad nervous at this point.  It was a risk and I knew it.  I simply wanted to show them that there were more real alternatives that could in fact lead to a successful long term career in music/sound media even though my suggestion was frowned upon. Epic fail.

The looks on their faces told the whole story.  These people weren’t interested in the options and it was obvious that the school President (present) really wished I hadn’t said that.  Advertising and Corporate was not why they came there (more of the same bullshit) and those who later enrolled mirrored that too.  What became all too obvious to me was that these kids were disillusioned and desperate for something bigger and better; anything that showed them a way out of this mundane existence, having lived in a high school wasteland (creatively) for years and not wanting to go to college (as they knew it).  Even though many could barely play an instrument (some even tone deaf), music became their salvation, for a while – a reason to live, something to become … an escape.  That said, a small fraction graduated and a few actually went on to do some very cool things.  I remember a handful starting bands and getting signed themselves (like me), and eventually moving into advertising, television sound/music or live/event audio/visual, out of necessity, even more landing in music or video stores but most just disappearing after spending big $ on an education they would never use.  

Nothing has changed.  The successful are those who graduate and manage to find a way to make their living IN the audio media business (maybe 1 in 5 grads).  It happens and that is what the remaining schools bank on.  Turns out, 33 years later that there isn’t even a music industry left and yet the primary focus remains … yes you too can be larger than life (if you register here).   Looking back and in the hundreds of millions spent at these schools since; what saddens me most, is that almost all came in wanting to be famous and after 30 years of teaching and in the 10,000+ students/grads I’ve taught over those years, I don’t know of one who is.

In Closing:

We humans are desperate to find some sense of meaning in this life, something bigger.  Even better if we’re actually acknowledged, even worshipped for just 15 minutes.  One thing still holds true, years later … those who finish/graduate and actually go on to become successful are those who come in with their eyes wide open and are willing to look at all the options, and those who stick around and make it work are almost always those who see through the fame facade before they subscribe to the program.  

Happy New Year to you and all the best in 2019.    JL




read more education blog posts here

assembled in Logic Audio & Final Cut



the human condition, gender politics, spiritual isolation, hypocrisy in modern society, renewed faith, redemption in expression




misaligned motivation in education – reality vs. fantasy

Food disorders run in my family.  My parents broke up when we were kids (younger brother), and we lived with Dad (near Windsor Ontario) and that sucked. Problem is that he didn’t feed us very well and we didn’t get the nourishment we needed (always hungry), so we over-compensated later on in life.  When we visited Mom (2 hours away in Woodstock) on that first week-end of the month from 1968 – 1973, we ate and ate and ate amazing food;  bacon/eggs, pancakes, swiss steak/roast beef, bbq chicken, mashed potatoes, pies/date squares and butter tarts for dessert and always awesome snacks (pop and chips, REAL milk and lots of sugar); like we needed to get it all in before the famine ahead and Mom poured the maple syrup on with lots of love.  It was 2 days a month of sheer bliss.  When we finally left Dad and moved in with her? 

Ok, I think you get the point.


There is a phenomenon that goes unchecked in contemporary education that’s similar but hidden and is the root cause of a systemic bi-polarity.  It’s an adverse reaction to a lack of creative stimulation and intellectual nourishment in our early years; in rebellion to the unwavering compliance we are taught in grade school and continuing into high school.  It manifests in post-secondary in the form of ‘fun’ and appealing programs (almost recreational in nature) that are relatively stress free (well, at least on the surface) and are extremely profitable for those running things who have a quiet understanding of how to financially benefit from young people’s disenchantment.  I see this mostly in music/media arts & entertainment management but it’s scattered everywhere in a variety of college/university programs all over Canada and the U.S.

The biggest problem with education (in North America), is that it lacks vision and inspiration.  Kids are force fed crap that’s irrelevant to their individuality because it’s ‘healthy’ and conforms to the universal curricula measured in standardized testing designed to deliver results.  It’s all about learning to fit square pegs into round holes and eventually, integration into an employment culture where certain ‘rules’ are in place for a good reason.  It’s about learning not to question authority because if you do, there will be consequences, so just shut up, be on time and do your job.   By the time certain young people get to college, they are disenfranchised, alienated.   It’s time for a change – a ‘screw you’ release from the shackles and chains that have been binding us since we were young … freedom – FUN, in an all you can eat buffet that echoes hope in a promised land.  Work hard, play hard becomes play hard  first and foremost.  The downside of this destructive polarity is that kids (and even their parents) subscribe to a fantasy where few graduates actually end up finding meaningful employment in the field and are left with little to grab onto because it’s all so far fetched.   

That said, there was/is a demographic that is more vulnerable than others.  I saw them consistently when I was a teacher at Trebas, IAOD/International Academy of Design, Fanshawe/Music Industry Arts and Metalworks Institute.  Many of my new students had an obvious chip on their shoulder and the more pissed off they were, the sooner they dropped out (because THIS is just more of the same bullshit), after failing their first test or missing an assignment.  A sense of ‘entitlement’ if you will.  Like they deserve to be larger than life, especially after that horrendous, messed up embarrassment of a child-hood (grade school/high school).  I was both sad and relieved (even happy) after they left because the longer they stayed, the more painful it became.  That said; there were those who survived and even thrived after graduating.  I’m thinking it’s those who came in and had a more balanced diet of reality and fantasy earlier on; eventually defaulting to reality and almost all integrating into non-music related vocations.  Almost like their childhood trauma was fixable (treatable) and they were more grounded and that doing this program was part of an expensive reality check (realignment).   This is what made teaching worth while for me.  There were even a few who actually became successful in media/music which made it even better.



We are all drawn to simple pleasures so when exposed to painful experiences for any length of time, we seek that familiar bliss again.  12 hours jack-hammering asphalt in the heat/sun, sweat soaked, sore and smelling bad has a tendency to return home to air conditioning and a dozen cold beers in front of the TV,  because it feels better.  There’s a balance in there but all too often, our mission is eclipsed by the weather/circumstances (stuff happens), and there’s nothing we can do but submit to what’s real.

My point is that we are all motivated by different things and those of us who are fortunate enough to be fed mindfully as kids, grow up with a more coherent understanding of the world and our place in it.  I would like those of you reading this, who are seriously considering a future career in media arts/music to ask yourself a fundamental question … Why am I doing this?   Is it because I want to give the world something, or is it because I want the world to give something to me?  The right answer is BOTH.  In my 30 years as a teacher (and in my experience) 9 times out of 10, it’s the latter and without a healthy balance of give and take, there’s nowhere to go.


R O O T   C A U S E





MAE 2018 – 10th ANNIVERSARY – a message

MEDIA ARTS EDUCATION IN CANADA – 10 year anniversary
by Jim Lamarche




“Sweet dreams are made of these; who am I to disagree.  I’ve travelled the world and the seven seas; everybody’s looking for something”.   Annie Lennox

Hello friends and readers. I’m into my 10th year as the creator/editor of MAE in Canada, the report and still enjoying being here. I started it as a blog in MySpace in 2008 and was surprised to see it catch on so quickly.  MySpace died and I jumped ship and re-booted MAE in WordPress in 2010, then making it a formal website in February 2014.  It appeared early on, that a lot of people appreciated the effort and that many benefited from the insight and information it provided.  I still receive emails every week from those who are grateful and/or would like further clarification (some posted in the FORUM).  As always, I’m happy to help.

I originally wanted to create a forum of interaction where those passionate about music/media could gather and exchange ideas, with the report itself acting as a platform from which to project those ideas as there was really nothing to go on out there (still isn’t).  What I learned as time progressed, is that the appeal of such a forum was (is) limited only to those curious individuals who wanted/want to know the facts, which turns out to be a tiny percentage of those participating in music/media post-secondary college programs overall.  I have learned that most who are in these expensive programs aren’t that interested in ‘real news’ at all, especially if it interferes with their idea of who they think they are and want to be (the fantasy), regardless of the impending fallout (student debt and survival default) post grad.  All throughout my 30 years as a music/media arts educator, I was surrounded by a multitude of young people who hesitantly showed up with little or no musical talent; (maybe having written a song or two) and wanted to be in the music biz because someone told them that all it takes is this program (to become larger than life).  I’m IN!  Where do I sign?

Don’t get me wrong; a healthy imagination is a good thing and aspiring to become successful (and yes even famous) can be inspiring to watch, providing it’s done with both eyes open and with a willingness to look at everything whilst.  In my experience in education, I’ve found that 9/10 who enrol in these programs like the “idea” of being in music/media than are actually committed (willing to work at it).  Those who have what it takes have big ambitions backed by a burning curiosity and a relentless need for the truth (a combination that is in short supply).  Of course, it’s easy to assume that because one has a computer and likes to make beats or YouTube clips (imagining becoming a famous DJ or producer), that they have what it takes to make it work out there in the industry when so very few actually do, then actually going to the school and listening to an admissions recruiter (paid on commission) tell them that they in fact  have what it takes, makes it even easier to take the plunge (and sign the loan).

In the MAE Survey (link below), I gathered information/data on those participating in these programs which confirmed that many in music/media students/grads like to pretend a lot (been there, done that).   When I started teaching in 1984 (Trebas Institute), everyone that signed up/enrolled wanted to be seen and heard, and the school’s marketing was all about showing them the way.  Year after year I watched 3/5 or 60% of students drop out before their final term started –  then most of those remaining drifting into non-related vocations after spending/investing $20-$30K on an education they would rarely use (never use professionally).  After conducting the research, I just assumed that the report/forum would gather momentum and become even more relevant, but am sad to say that nothing changed.  To this day, most don’t really want to look at it but the facts remain.  Think of it this way … out of 100 students that show up first day of class (particularly at most private colleges on average), 60 of them are gone by their final term.  Out of the 40 remaining, 20 graduate and maybe 4 find meaningful employment in their field. This is my observation after having taught at Trebas Institute, IAOD/TFS Toronto Film School, Metalworks Institute and Fanshawe College (Music Industry Arts). That’s a 4% success rate despite the college’s over-inflated published KPI stats (Key Performance Indicators).  That said, I have gathered new survey data (Survey 2017) and have incorporated my findings into the updated MAE Survey.  MTCU KPI stats report on participants who successfully integrate later (any related job), but most don’t graduate.  Now maybe you’re in that 4% who can see through all the misinformation into a future where your vision can prosper.  Thoroughly processing what’s real is an important prerequisite.

Young people earnestly embrace the possibilities presented to them by enthusiastic post secondary colleges (having everything to gain by signing new students up), having the answers to questions students have had for years and FINALLY good news!  “You’re accepted – you’re IN!”  Finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel and a ‘real’ reason to push forward!  What I’ve also learned is that many music/media student registrants were/are coming from a place of insecurity in an absence of mature, emotionally grounded support – far more-so than those pursuing traditional educations (University and Community College diplomas/degrees), so the idea of becoming larger than life (take this job and shove it – I’m going to do what I want to do) takes on a whole new appeal; a unique stubbornness.  I’ve seen a backlash in that there was/is zero tolerance for anything that interferes with that constructed reality, regardless of its benevolence or it’s relevance … especially from some report/forum on the internet that suggests that they might be wrong in their assumption about their intended destination (or at the suggestion that they are possibly being used).



That concluded, I have tailored my message to these individuals in particular, should they choose to look in this direction, hoping to engage them even on some basic level, having been there myself and recognizing the pattern. 10 years later, I’m finding that parents read the report/blogroll/forum on the site more than their sons/daughters (music/media students) themselves which tells me something … most young people don’t want the facts (real stats); they just want a constant reassurance that what they believe is the truth and this translation has all encompassing ramifications (looking at the bigger picture) because in essence, they are flying solo.

I’ve said it before and will say it again … if the world’s next Quentin Tarantino, Avril Lavigne, Drake or Trent Reznor/Daniel Lanois is reading this stuff, then none of it will matter one way or the other because information in a blog on the internet won’t change that kind of commitment.  It has become obvious to me now that I’m 60, that following one’s passion IS essential and that anyone who tells you what you ‘should’ do (or buy), is someone you shouldn’t  be listening to.  That said, more than ever before, we humans (all ages) have become volatile and gullible – shunning the truth/what’s real – in favour of fake news, and that makes us feel better about ourselves (short term) but all too often, leaves us with little to show for our efforts when the game is over.  When it comes to modern day marketing, there really are no rules.  Today (as I write this), it’s “Black Friday” (Nov. 24/17) and yes, all in the Christmas spirit (a time of giving).  Massive banners flashing everywhere claiming … “buy one – get one free” or “50% off today only – but they’ve marked up the original price – so what looks like a great deal for the discriminant shopper, is actually a big boost for the retailer.

It is my final thought and wish that those of you reading this pace yourselves (resist impulse) and take careful stock of your options and opportunities, developing the courage to look at everything that can help you get to where you want to go.  Become fully informed/street-smart/sharp (learning to read between the lines), while developing a creative and cohesive plan of action that is grounded and realistic after the initial assessment has solidified.  The one given (reality), is that regardless of the media arts path that one wishes to pursue, the market is flooded with gifted/talented grads looking for work in their field of study.  I will never tell anyone not to embark on a choice to attend a music/media arts college.  I will however, continue to encourage those who do, to take a good long look before jumping in.




More articles/blog posts by Jim Lamarche:

The Learning Curve – An Observation in Modern Education (private vs. public post-secondary)

MODUS OPERANDI – a peek into the dark side of (for-profit) PCC college recruitment in North America.

CRITICAL THINKING:  THE END OF AN ERA – exploring the impending expiry of liberal arts education.

The Learning Curve – Let it Happen – hackschooling and the anatomy of entrepreneurial spirit

The Learning Curve – Erase & Rewind – introducing the open loop/non-linear post-secondary model

Black Hole Syndrome – the unspoken agenda in post secondary education


The Learning Curve: Modus Operandi

a peek into the dark side of (for-profit) PCC college recruitment in North America – (February 2017)

In sales (as in life itself), there’s persuasion and there’s manipulation and there’s really no way of measuring where one ends and the other begins.

This installment of The Learning Curve is inspired by Trump University in New York and recent events unfolding there.  Even though Donald Trump has arrogantly stated that “I never settle” (in reference to his law-suits); he has this time, for $25M US after numerous class action suits were launched by thousands of students claiming they were ripped off; “allegedly” being the operative word.   The allegations in the case were highly unpleasant for Mr. Trump.  Students paid up to $35,000 in tuition for programs that, according to the testimony of former Trump University employees, used high-pressure sales tactics and employed unqualified instructors, that were supposedly “hand picked” by the Donald himself – not even close.  Welcome to the PCC/Private Career College post-secondary education sector in the United States and Canada.




The Catch

Trump University isn’t even a real “University” – just taking it upon himself to call it that because it is more prestigious (an easy sell – implying a real degree, leading to a REAL future), and getting away with it because it is Donald Trump’s name on it (the gold plated brand that screams success) – so the boat just sets sail with no questions asked.  People just assuming that because it is Donald Trump’s school, that it is legit and that they will benefit from going there no matter how much it costs.

I lived a sheltered life in southwestern Ontario – having no idea in my earlier years, that education could ever exist in the murky waters of ethical impropriety – let alone an agenda that blatantly takes more than gives.  Known by Ministries of Education who just look the other way, like a car slowing down to gawk at the carnage then driving away (head shaking) – no I didn’t think it was possible.  I was so naive in my youth.  After having grown up in the public education system – grade school, middle school, high school and even community college, I came to understand that there was a relaxed modus operandi, wherein students came/studied – then finished/graduated and those leaving were replaced by new students coming in, so the transitions all seemed natural and normal.  Evolution – migration.  I didn’t see education as a business because I was clearly under the impression that it wasn’t supposed to be one; that it was free from commerce and able to operate independently from profit. Pure.

When I started teaching in 1983, I had just been signed to a record deal with a major record label, so I was coming in as a bit of a celebrity which was a bonus for the school.  It was at a music/media arts PCC college called Trebas Institute in Toronto (exists to this day), and it was my first experience with this type of learning system, having no idea how different it was.  What I noticed (early on), was that there was an admissions person who made $300 commission per registration (at the time) and that threw me off thinking … this person is being rewarded for signing up new students – what’s up with that?   Odd – odd indeed.  That was one person in one school.  I left Trebas in 2005 and started working at IAOD/TFS – International Academy of Design/Toronto Film School for 2 years, until 2007 – another PCC publicly owned by CEC/Career Education Corporation based out of Chicago – owning/operating 70+ campuses all over North America and answering to shareholders.  IAOD/TFS closed in 2008 and reopened in 2010 after being bought by Yorkville University/RCC Institute of Canada and launching a new campus in the Dundas Square, Toronto.

For me leaving Trebas, it was like out of the frying pan and into the fire.  IAOD/TFS had the entire 8th floor of the CBC building in Toronto and it was a BIG deal!   There were at least a dozen people in admissions and there were regular “tours” given to prospective registrants twice a week, timed to arrive when we took our break in the studio class/workshop I was teaching at the time, and it was very popular.  Our program at TFS was called RAT (Recording Arts Technology), where we taught young people (paying $25K for a 6 semester education over 1.5 years), how to become successful recording engineers and music industry producer/entrepreneurs.

I was fascinated by the enrollment process, staying and pretending to be working at something quietly in the studio, listening to these young, charismatic admissions athletes (paid on commission), firing off the same convincing scripts to the same curious wide-eyed sheep in the herd following them into the studio (clueless) – WOW/OMG, look at all those lights, all those knobs!  Someone always came by 5 minutes before the tour to dim the overheads and put music on low – kind of like having the fireplace working when a real estate agent has a showing/open house – same deal.  The Tuesday group were the rock guys – mostly white – long hair – musicians (mostly guitar players and drummers) who wanted to be larger than life and willing to pay for it (esp. with an easy OSAP loan).   Listening to the admissions rep tell them that a recent IAOD/RAT grad is now working with Rick Rubin in LA on the new Metallica (watching their jaws drop).  Not true – total lie.  On Fridays it was the hip-hop/rap crew – mostly black – Snoop Dog or Eminem on the speakers and being told that a recent grad is working at Diddy’s studio in NYC on Notorious B.I.G. remixes (watching their jaws drop).  Not true – total lie.  It worked though.  Modus Operandi … hook them into an OSAP loan program where it’s claimed that 96% of graduates find jobs within 3 months of graduating – part of the deception/delusion – the seduction – all legal and above board.   The term “deer in the headlights” comes to mind.  No-one at IAOD/RAT got jobs in the music/entertainment industry (none that I know of).  Jobs?  Maybe – but not in some studio working with rock or rap stars, but at music stores or Starbucks, Future Shop or Blockbuster Video a month or year later – owing $25K to the government for an education that they’ll never use.  Virtually all of them.



and The Release

In 2009, I became an Admissions Advisor or “Education Counsellor” (the title given on my business card), for Evergreen College in Mississauga and I kind of knew what I was in for but needed a job after returning from 3 months in India.  Evergreen was/is a small independent Canadian company that borrowed Everest College’s business model (Corinthian in the U.S.) and we all know what happened there.  It’s what eventually happens when any business blatantly takes more than it gives and is detached.  Business/Technology/Healthcare in a fast-track curricula that boldly told prospectives they could have a new career in less than a year.  Pitching to the misinformed (adult immigrants mostly) that we were a ‘registered’ MTCU college and a proud member of the NACC (National Association of Career Colleges) was in the top paragraph of the script because proving our credibility was essential to closing the registration (even though the education quality was poor).  Of course Evergreen was/is a registered MTCU college and a proud member of the NACC which is sad only in that there was so little scrutiny in it’s start-up.  It was essentially a “sales” job and the counsellor thing was just a front – implying that I/we actually cared about the people we registered when in fact, we didn’t because the school didn’t.  There were 5 “counsellors” (Mississauga) who were given monthly target/quotas and that unspoken threat that if we didn’t reach our target, there would be consequences (quite possibly let go).  We were paid 5% commission on sales/registrations and we were in competition with each other – creating a high degree of office politics, animosity and ill will.  In sales (as in life itself), there’s persuasion and there’s manipulation and there’s really no way of measuring where one ends and the other begins.

The office where we worked, all jammed into one open room and monitored (by camera) by management was toxic; always on the phone coercing people to come in for their FREE consultation, so we could hard-sell them into registering, using every known trick to do that.  At the beginning of each month, our numbers were published (via email) to all admissions staff (at both campuses, Mississauga and Toronto) and the “star” (top sales) counsellor was given a bonus while the rest of us watched in jealously and fear (all meticulously planned by our middle-eastern micro-management).  It was an environment where we were rewarded for producing and punished for having a bad month and it was a revolving door; recruiters coming and going all the time.  Always “free” laptops or tablets if incoming registered, but to them it’s only if they register before the end of the month (promotion ending next week – but never ending; a lie).  So few were happy, especially the students and their discontent was covered up.

What I can tell you is that these colleges (for the most part) are constantly breaking the rules and fudging the facts to increase profits/magnify their position and growth, yet are allowed to get away with it because regulations are all talk and little action.  The MTCU/Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities reminds me a lot of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario – where shady business is quietly swept under the carpet – members are protected and where complaints are ignored.  PCC franchising is a huge problem because anyone with money can “buy in” to the education business, hire unqualified teachers (on the cheap) and profit from people’s ignorance as “registered” schools.  Many of the staff at most private colleges are former students, (administration, TA’s or even teachers) having little or no experience.  I thought that maybe, the Everest College closures (14 campuses) in February 2015 would wake up the system.  Not even close.  Thousands abandoned – minimal accountability.

What’s consistent about private music/media arts schools, is the catchy marketing.  Everything from “Advanced” programs, to “Gold Standard”, “Elite” or “Premier” in their self description, but nothing is more telling than looking at their posted “success stories”, which for the most part are deceptive.  Pictures of alumni (sitting at a big mixing board) who have just started their own “production company” and are releasing a new album or playing live somewhere – some having done an internship at some recording studio (famous names dropped) and now working at a new company that’s unheard of, or as so-called “producers” who are really working in a survival job (after digging a little deeper).  It’s all about appearances.  All looking very favourable however – to those who don’t see between the cracks or know what’s really going on.




Sounds awesome!  Where do I sign?

The last thing I want to do is to paint all PCC/private colleges as being evil – not my intention.  What I’ve learned is that there are PCC colleges out there who actually care about their students and don’t lie to get them in and actually provide their students with a quality education – the better ones.  They are however, an extreme minority (less than 5% in my opinion – maybe 1 in 20 schools).   Public post secondary is slower and longer but less expensive and most importantly is relatively honest in comparison but again, there are always exceptions and public post-secondary has their own unique modus operandi where the truth is often fudged to favour the system.  What you can always be assured of, is that no matter where you end up (public or private post-secondary) … what you see (up front), and what’s really there are always going to be different and there’s almost no way of knowing what’s really going on until you’re in it and then out.


In closing, leaps of faith rarely result in restitution.  My theory is to look before you leap.  Extensively Google your prospective vision, your dream – your destiny to find out what’s real.  Even better, talk to people who know more than you do and have gone there/been there; those who have no vested interest in selling you something that’s “good for you” or financially benefiting from your signature.  Listen to what they have to say – find out what lurks beneath the surface out of sight … the clever marketing and the dazzling tour that teases, even tickles.  Then and only then if it feels right – go for it.  Most importantly, trust your instincts – your intuition (after researching it) and never  just take their word for it because they say that this program will change your life – or that you “owe it to yourself” to be the best you can be.  Be wary of false profits and snake oil salesmen (posing as new friends) – especially those who pretend to know what’s best for you … even IF they just happen to be the President.

A Heap of Money – by Jeremy Johnson (graduate, Metalworks Institute)



The Learning Curve: Critical Thinking … the End of an Era

exploring the impending expiry of liberal arts education

“The time has come, a fact’s a fact
It belongs to them – let’s give it back”

The 21st century is proving to be a challenge unlike any other century in history because a growing number of people are giving up on humanity.

Education in North America has entered it’s most dangerously ambiguous era as the powers that be are aligning themselves in an unprecedented effort to harness the misinformed, feeding them overpriced junk food and making promises that they have no intention of delivering, assuring their passive aggressive congregation that they are genuinely concerned for their health and well being and yet keeping them in a place where they can be watched, controlled and pacified while they graze.

America’s complacency sleeps in the streets where no one is listening because if they were?  This wouldn’t be happening.

Never before has the balance of power been so extreme with the trend relentlessly testing our ability to stay focused on what’s important to our future growth as a whole in our need to continue to think critically if even in order to heal and sustain. Liberal Arts education programs continue to decline in our public school systems (primary, secondary and post-secondary) because the rich and influential don’t see the value in teaching art, music and language to a general population who don’t need that if they’re going to be useful. Quality arts education is becoming an expensive “specialty” item reserved for those who can afford it and with a growing number of appealing (lower level) media arts programs primarily designed to make money over enhancing the benevolent nurturing of thought and spirit, health and prosperity.  For-profit, private post-secondary schools are becoming more popular while lower cost public education options are becoming more austere, streamlined and less creative.

Where in countries like Sweden, Finland, Germany, Slovenia and even Mexico, even good (internationally accessible) post-secondary degree programs are free; here in North America, tuition costs continue to rise beyond what’s affordable and those who cling to hope, graduate owing big money to an oppressive system where the quality of education in the vast majority of schools continues to decline and where access to genuinely good schools is becoming restricted to the affluent elite.




harvesting hypocrisy

In our spirit of the new age, maintaining fear, passivity and obedience – keeping the masses perspectives narrow, their understanding limited, their vision obscured and keeping their needs simple; discouraging independent thought becomes the highest priority.   Modern education’s new agenda doesn’t include the freedom to think out of the box – because that kind of independent thinking only threatens the security of the powerful few, so schools here standardize all learning, curricula and testing.

Is it working?   We can only look at the 2016 American election and how Donald Trump’s victory proves that it is working. “Make America Great Again” is a catch phrase that has caught on and clearly shows us that the masses have bought into the formula and are even willing to “fight for what’s right”.   What his dedicated followers don’t know (nor even care about) is that even though he wants to fight  – to bring back “real jobs to real Americans”, his expensive signature clothing line is made in China.  Trump University in New York (a for-profit school), is facing multiple class action lawsuits with what looks like an impending shut-down for ethical misconduct.   Honest, hard working Americans (drawn into the Trump brand) being lured into spending $30K for useless programs and empty promises.  It’s been a total pain in his ass, but now that he is President this will all blow over and it will be back to business as usual.  Ah the American dream.  So where does … “make America great again”  fit in here?

What these people don’t know (yet) is that their faithful leader and visionary Donald Trump – does not care about them!  His promise to “drain the swamp” (dismantling Wall Street and stripping power away from a corrupt corrosion), has in fact become just the opposite – putting them in charge of running the country’s economy by making them part of government.  America’s complacency sleeps in the streets where no one is listening because if they were?  This wouldn’t be happening.  Sure millions are protesting but one fact remains – America voted him in as President.  Healthcare is the first to go on the chopping block, then education.  The social fabric is disintegrating.

“No one seems to notice … no one seems to care”  George Carlin

Trump is a self proclaimed billionaire who won’t reveal anything about his wealth and refuses to come clean around his taxes, to the pubic and even to the IRA who would appear to have little to no control over what he does with his money.  Does Donald Trump even pay taxes like the rest of us have to?  Transparency is obviously not on his agenda and is a spotlight on his ongoing dishonest intentions, which will prevail and yet his people (tens of millions and growing) don’t see it because they don’t want to see it. They don’t care if he’s honest or not (only that he speaks for them) … with that charismatic ranting rhetoric that rings religiously.




the vacuous victory

They don’t care and that’s just the kind of complacency that is in total alignment with the plan in that big barren low land where critical thinking doesn’t exist.  What they don’t see is that it’s just propaganda, designed to fortify and consolidate their vigilant apathy in a show of force that quietly supports the corporation’s untouchable financial infrastructure – THAT which they think  they are standing against.  Welcome to a level of hypocrisy unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before.

In our spirit of the new age, education supports the interests of those who run the corporations; those who fundamentally don’t care – about the human spirit or the future of the planet and have no use for common people other than what can be harvested from them. From the oppressor’s point of view, liberal arts education has nothing to offer and only distracts an obedient workforce from doing what’s necessary (to shut up – serve, and concentrate on doing their jobs properly), and most importantly promotes independent thinking, which is a threat to the powerful few when what’s necessary is to slowly make the masses even more indifferent, more insecure, detached and systematically unsympathetic. Media is owned by the corporations so the message is always clear – romanticizing consumerism using seductive imagery in meticulous marketing, glazed in sugar-pop packaging and thus, making America great again,  has nothing to do with what people think it really means.

The good news is that here in Canada, we are somewhat removed from the growing deterioration and yet feeling the fallout in our own dwindling education system.  I’m thinking of the closure of 14 Everest College campuses here last year, leaving thousands of students stranded; gently reminding us that we’re not that much different.  Our only recourse moving forward will continue to be what’s proven to be effective all over the world in the past.  As people we need to stand up and refuse any increase in college/university tuitions and to make our voices heard when liberal arts programs are threatened to be axed due to so-called ‘budget cuts’, now that we know that the financial burden of teaching our kids art, music and language has little to do with any of it, and that it’s critical thinking that makes our communities/society truly free thinking, self aware, healthy and alive.





The Learning Curve: Let it Happen

hackschooling and the anatomy of entrepreneurial spirit

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”
John Dewey

I’m LOST dude!  Racing to remember … laughing all the way to the bank … ok, I’m behind on my payments but I have a contingency plan in place.
Ah, MAE 2016 – a reason to write again …

You can take this in any number of times and get something different each time.   All part of the plan … oh and you won’t be required – to memorize anything.

The crowded airport …

Get OUT of my way – I have somewhere I need to be and if I don’t get there – I’m doomed.  Flight 815, Oceanic – the red-eye departing at 7:48 pm from Sydney to LA, and I’m late.  Shit, I’m thirsty – no time for that.  Gotta piss – nope.  That precious presentation to the Board of Directors tomorrow morning.  They’re giving me 10 minutes. 

Something’s trying to get out – and it’s never been closer …




In the beginning

It’s a spark, a fleeting moment when magic arrives. I remember as a child getting them quite frequently, here then gone – lost in the static/interference. When I started kindergarten it was a shock more than anything. A gentle transition would have been nice but no, thrown into the deep end. The rush to get there before the bell, the regimented timelines – work time, sleep time, snack time, then in grade 1, 2, 3 and so on … the assignments, homework – marks/grades and the all invasive “report card” garbage, measuring our progress; taking it home for my parents to look at – in fear of what’s coming, with that look on Dad’s face taking it in – the quiet holocaust ensues in expectation followed by the – “what’s up with this D in arithmetic? – go to your room – NOW!”.  I just wanted to eat my favourite supper (macaroni and cheese), watch Loonie Tunes and listen to music because I loved music. Sent to bed early, yet again – no ticky, no laundry – no supper, no Loonie Tunes – no music.  Ok, Mom (at least) wanted to feed me but nope – not a chance in hell!   What I figured out early on, is that it’s all about being rewarded for complying/producing and punishment if you don’t.

Sorry buddy, you lose – again.  Tough Love.  “This is how you learn”  he would say.  You will be judged by how you carry yourself – who you know and by how much money you make.  Ok, school provides hard lessons – so much need to know and all too little curiosity though – what’s up with that?  Dragging myself through elementary school, then high school (even worse).  Like algebra is torture because I don’t know what to DO with it!  Not a clue.  Chemistry class – memorizing the mechanics of the periodic table with no place to plug it in – renders it useless to me.  Ok, please give me a reason to learn this shit, because without anything to grab onto, I don’t see the point!  I want to have fun and do what I want to do not what I’m supposed to do (what’s expected).  “Turn up the good and turn down the suck”!  (Deaner – FUBAR)




“Schools kill creativity, if you’re not allowed to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”
Sir Ken Robinson


The all encompassing question – over and over … “what do you want to dowho do you want to be when you grow up?” It was like they needed an answer NOW, but it was never answerable truthfully because I didn’t know. I was never asked “what do you want to be”- ah, that would have been easy … “I want  to be happy”. Well of course, a given, however because it was never asked, I was never able to answer that question, making it that much more difficult to realize happiness in the world.  Ignoring all the warning signs (part of our training).  Years later – “Doctor, I feel this pressure in my chest – I don’t get it – I’m still young – why is this happening to me?”  A prescription for the pain (pills) and the suggestion I come back in a weak week if (more like when) it keeps happening – band-aid on a brain tumor … right – (let’s keep this tab rolling shall we).  So what’s up Doc? – over and over.  Not WHO I want to be but WHAT I want to be – happy, simple.  I’m asking myself the question because no-one else will.

The spark is fleeting …

The script is embedded in our limbic. Go to school, get a job, get married – have kids – exist for a few years (seconds), then die before getting to that place where happiness lives. Disconnected in the redirect, needing to unplug, detach – go off the grid for a while to clear the voices in my head telling me I’m not doing it right.  Starting fresh? – let’s do this!  Every child has a love of something unique to them – desire can be nurtured if it’s recognized early on – only it rarely is.  Even as babies, we infants are naturally drawn to something that is intrinsically our own.  For me it was music. My Mom saw it and nurtured it; giving me a toy guitar when I was 4, seeing the light in my eyes when she invited some of her musician friends over to play at a party at our house (letting me stay up late) long before thinking about being a musician myself.  Dad is out of the picture – drinking with his buddies at the local bar (polished shoes, wearing a suit), making a big impression.


So ya … Sudbury Ontario in 1959 has a unique history.



“Let yourself be silently drawn into the strange pull of what you really love.  It will not lead you astray”


Listening to The Beatles and The Monkees on my record player then later on cassette tapes – a real guitar when I was 12 – crude and cheap but mine.  Always Mom.  My records were my life.  The idea of being a musician – far away.  When I was 9, she bought an old (out of tune) upright piano and had it brought into our house in Woodstock Ontario, just before she left him.  She was taught to play as a child by her aunt Allie who was a piano teacher but Mom didn’t play much anymore (ah responsibilities), wishing to pass her “idea” onto me. Dad killed that, coming home and seeing it in the dining room – the piano gone 3 days later.  Creative freedom wasn’t something he subscribed to; “no son of mine is going to be a musician” – and thus an idea I wasn’t allowed access to.  I often wonder what if … ?  What IF Dad had been on board too?

1967 is remembered as one of the most notable years in Canada.  It was the centenary of Canadian Confederation and celebrations were held throughout the nation. The most prominent event was Expo 67 in Montreal, the most successful World’s Fair ever held up to that time, and one of the first events to win international acclaim for the country but I was far away from all that in a small town in Essex County, near Windsor.  We lived in isolation on Lake St. Clair with Dad and Agnes.

In grade 6 at Centennial Central Public school, in Comber Ontario – a music teacher called us up to the front of the class individually to sing for her as she played piano.   She was feeling out talent for the senior choir and selecting the best.  I sang for her and her jaw dropped.  I’m thinking WTF is this?   Is this actually happening?  I was lead soprano in the choir for 3 years – the kid who steps forward and has a solo bit.  Finally WOW!  There IS a god.  By far the best part of grade school for me – happy.  We were bussed to county festival tournaments and we won first prize all three years.  Both of my parents in absentia.

This changed my life – so YES, school has it’s moments.  That being said / otherwise …




What’s up Doc?

Grade school and especially high school is such a drain on young people – a copy/paste curricula entrenched in a coerced formula – a ‘dress for success’ kind of thing that means nothing fundamentally and in the grand scheme of things – but taking it on like it’s necessary because that’s just what you do.  Then after the dust storm subsides and the quiet cleanup commences; that once in a lifetime opportunity – that chance to be larger than life – but no hesitations or else it’s gone.  The slick websites with the long list of grads/alumni who have gone on to become huge successes – the “I’m a winner now” look on their smiling (choreographed) faces.  Marketing.

Fudged KPI’s and false promises permeate post-secondary in North America (esp. private schools), because it’s all about money.  Just when we think it might work.

My experience is that those who actually have what it takes, see through the crap and navigate around the seduction – rearranging the puzzle pieces in a way that doesn’t conform to tradition.  Experiences and interests emanating from a grounded vision, motivated in a challenge to the status quo – taking the risk (despite the odds).  Yes happy healthy creative – seeing new possibilities that lurk between the lines, thinking out of the box – seeing a bigger picture,  embracing freedom.

Yes, there are those who transcend the smokescreens, the chaos/obstacles and actualize their education.   Hackers are inventors/innovators who are frowned upon because they ignore the script. The world’s best scientists, artists, computer programmers, painters, philosophers and yes inventors are/were hacks.  No, not necessarily looking for the easiest way out but more like the quickest way IN … rearranging the fragments in a way that defies logic – power and peer pressure.

Finding magic again …

Quantum leaps occur in a spiritual connection to nature manifest in desire, curiosity – trusting instincts – veering off course – letting the kite fly – where it wants to fly.  Never forcing … only nurturing.  Being conscious – paying attention.   Learning to listen can be a personal project – a necessary step forward.




What you don’t know – won’t hurt you
Taken in context has meaning …

Did you know that most of the world’s greatest composers don’t know how to read music?  That many of the world’s literary scholars are terrible writers?  Formal schooling/traditional learning can work very well and all too often it burns the soufflé.  Way too much information and too little inspiration and all too late is what’s on the agenda – and you subscribe (like it or not).  Seeing a bigger picture in the storm is only the beginning and it requires an ability/willingness to tap into our passion, desire and love of life.  Some schools get it.  This website is dedicated to shining the light on those sources of inspiration – where benevolent support lives.  Some people care.

It’s what separates the leaders from the followers.  Being able to see what lurks beneath the surface.  Learning to trust/listen to what one’s instincts are whispering.

All this running around trying to cover my shadow
An ocean growing inside all the others seem shallow
All this running around bearing down on my shoulders
I can hear an alarm … must be morning




Mount it, then spin it … then watch it grow, believing in that feeling that started at the get-go.  People like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Angelina Jolie, Mother Teresa, Avril Lavigne and countless others did it, with little formal education.  Anything IS possible and  it’s only something that can happen if one can tap into the light that shone through them at the starting gate … the inception, assimilating everything we’re taught (that’s relevant);  beginning again.  That familiar clanging as the metal bars release and the crowd roars.  Maybe it’s more about stillness; watching all the other horses catapult into position – obsessed with winning.  All this running around.

Something’s trying to get out, and it’s never been closer.
Racing to remember …


“The only people who have proof of their sanity are those who have been discharged from mental institutions”
Marshall McLuhan, Take Today: The Executive as Dropout





Relevant articles – A Heap of Money – by Jeremy Johnson – graduate, Metalworks Institute (2009)

Letters to the Editor in the Forum

The Learning Curve – An Observation in Modern Education (private vs. public post-secondary)

The Learning Curve – Erase & Rewind – introducing the open loop/non-linear post-secondary model

Black Hole Syndrome – the unspoken agenda in post secondary education


The Learning Curve: Erase & Rewind

introducing the open loop/non linear post secondary model

Sometimes kids need a break from school – working a shit job – learning to appreciate a sound work ethic before they can truly appreciate higher learning.


Education is a “reward” system representing a short supply of ideas and creativity (nutrition), where options and opportunities are limited to what’s on a menu;  you know the one – like, say at Denny’s – laminated plastic with the yummy pictures and daily specials – the delicious appetizers that come early, the massive main course and always the sugar/sweet dessert finish – our reward.   Ok, that meal where you always feel totally satisfied/full after – the restaurant you tell all your friends about and they go too (with their kids).  Ordering too much so you can take some home to munch on later – oh  yeah.  Ah, the American dream – heavy on the bling and yet, missing something – too little, too late.  Ok, yes expensive but worth it (or so we’re told in their appealing photo-ads).  It’s all laid out already – easy to choose.  Simple – easy.

Always breakfast at 8am … bacon/ham/sausage, eggs, pancakes, toast and jam – home-fried potatoes, juice and coffee.  Lunch at noon (lighter fare) – always a BIGGY smoked meat sandwich (special sauce) with your choice of soup or salad that we play with more than eat, and then dinner promptly at 6 – meat and potatoes with a boiled to death frozen processed vegetable (because it’s good for you) – deep dish apple pie right after (even though you don’t have room for it).   We’re forced to eat when we’re not hungry, go on a diet when we get fat, then quietly binging on ‘comfort food’ late at night when we’re not supposed to and when no one is looking.

Erase & Rewind

Education is a lot like food – consumed linearly and predictably – too much of all the wrong crap when we don’t really need it and not enough of the good stuff when we do.  Always presented in a timely manner and almost always presented favourably –  laid out like your dress clothes on the bed just before Sunday school – the ones you can barely fit into anymore (even at 10), the ones we’re told to wear because it’s ‘appropriate’.    I’m thinking that maybe – just maybe – there’s more to this …

welcome back to – The Learning Curve




Less is more

Finding out later in life that it’s actually healthier to eat smaller meals (more frequently) during the day because it maximizes our ability to assimilate/function more efficiently, in accordance with our natural metabolism, feeding the mind, body and spirit incrementally over time and maintaining a lifestyle where excesses are minimized.

Ambition isn’t something you learn – it’s something you’re born with, and schools have this way of stripping ambition – clean away – gone forever.

I was always fascinated by the Montessori approach to education.  Maria Montessori was a visionary back in her day – soaring way above the traditional approach to learning, back in a time when everyone was thinking in the box – the Montessori maternity was characterized by an essential emphasis on independence, freedom of limits and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical and social development and those ‘nurtured’ in that system seem to do much better for some reason.   My one dream in this life?  To sit with Maria for 30 minutes and show her what’s here now just to listen to her one sentence afterwards.  Her prescription was/is a more balanced approach to learning in a forum supportive of natural development where intake (new information) is welcomed by each individual and absent of confusion and delusion.  Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, videogame pioneer Will Wright, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Julia Child – ok, the list goes on and on – all Montessori kids – allowed to follow their passion – without limitations – without menus – without judgement – open loop earlier on and still in motion.

Challenging the status quo in due process brings about resistance and chaos, in that we’re conditioned to follow certain steps within a specific (and short) timeline.  Daycare/preschool, grade-school then high-school – sleep-time/work-time/play-time carefully constructed/manipulated maximizing our brief tenure on the planet.


By the end of high school, young people are just supposed to know what their mission/purpose in life is, before they are gathered in herds and shipped off to university or college where they spend 4 years (way too soon) in a generic undergrad program that they have no real connection with, then – OUT they go into the work-force, only it’s the most difficult transition they face, because their useless undergrad has little relevance and because they’re not grounded in a system of their own discovery.  No, it’s a system of their making – Mom/Dad, family/teachers, employers, corporate america and on and on and so many kids fall off the wagon and drift into oblivion – lost, eventually gravitating into a vocation that has little or nothing to do with their talent – all absent of fun and stripped of any inspiration and only because it was invented that way and continues to this day.  When the options are limited to the common fare on a menu – there’s always sugar – in a default mechanism that always works – short term gain – long term pain.  Sometimes kids get hooked into one of those “living the dream” programs/schools that prey on unsuspecting, wide-eyed vulnerable victims.

Those who actually believe that becoming larger than life, is something that can be bought – on a payment plan.


The backfire is felt in the frosty fringes, thirsty for another drink, toke – bump – where/when our alienated playstation prodigies are introduced to yet another poison – Let’s just say – one word – sexy!   “OMFG did you see that hottee at reception? – I’d tap that”.  That ultra-cool high-school trip to a local rock school, all so accessible and convenient – YES!  I WANT!   The term “field trip” has a whole new meaning.  Here we GO!  New Mini Cooper for Christmas today?  Rock School tomorrow?  bring it ON!

text from Stoner:   “Congrats dude – you are like – officially?  a target demographic haha.  Ok, whatevs bro.  Yep, it’s all goin’ on – new car – smoke-show girlfriend (amazing ass) – rockin’ haircut/gear, new 63 Strat – Protools w/unlimited plugs on your iMac;  fame fortune and glory?  You’re frikkin’ IN guy – you’re SET!”

“ya – so hey – Mom/Dad – make it happen”!  The term ‘deer in the headlights’ comes to mind.


Cause I’ve been changing my mind

There needs to be a “reason” to learn – a genuine curiosity.  What I have learned is that there is a very real alternative.  One that circumvents a fragmented formula and allows young minds to flourish much earlier on – but only if one is open to it.  If you are a parent reading this;  I’m hoping you’re listening, because what we’ve been conditioned to accept as the proper way to assist our kids and how it can be done better can be very different and can work more efficiently/productively.   Kids are bored easily – it’s up to us to inspire them (early on) so that they can direct their purpose more meaningfully and more realistically.  Let them go earlier.  Trust them.  Don’t harass them – let your children discover then rediscover themselves.  Let them fail; make huge mistakes and feel horrible about it.  Don’t interfere and most importantly don’t over-compensate or over-insulate (over feed).  Offering benevolent guidance is one thing – controlling or over-protecting them is quite another.  Encourage and support their decisions – even if they are bad ones …  disagree if you must; but leave the badgering/harassment, shame/blame and guilt at the door.

Loving them means letting them go … even if they need to drop out of high-school because they hate it (if they really need to do that because it’s obvious they’re wasting their time there anyway).   Many of our most successful heros (men and women) are just that; Virgin’s Richard Branson, Dreamwork’s David Geffen, Director Quentin Tarantino, actors Seth Rogen, Johnny Depp, Jim Carrey, even musicians – Bryan Adams, Avril Lavigne, Eminem, Kurt Cobain and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong – all high-school drop-outs.  Forcing your ‘will’ on them will only backfire.  Short term gain – long term pain – and they’ll only resent you after the fact (for the rest of their lives – even long after you’re gone).  Sometimes kids need a break from school – working a shit job – learning to appreciate a sound work ethic before they can appreciate higher learning.  What’s most amazing (in my observation), is that most who are granted the freedom to drop out early – return to school later and with a fresh new perspective and those who aren’t given that freedom/dropping out anyway?  drift into the abyss.  Quite simply put – detachment works better – for them – for you – for everyone.

Your kids are living their lives – not yours.  If you have a “plan” for them?  Toss it, because it’s not your decision to make.




This practice works well in relationships too – detachment is like a miracle potion that works extremely well, because it’s organic and gives your partner (and/or child)  permission to choose – independently and without shame and guilt (free of your opinion – your grip).  It’s a simple concept really, big bang for the buck.  The Swiss, Japanese/Chinese and many other countries get it when we here in North America still remain blinded by great expectations in an applied science (hovering haphazardly in a 3.0 GPA) so that they can learn to fudge their own KPI numbers, boasting false success – leading to anxiety/depression, substance abuse, marital breakdowns and serious resentment after the fact.  Have you ever stopped to think WHY there is an epidemic of ADD (attention deficit) festering in our youth these days?   Think about it.  There’s ‘proaction’ and there’s reactionAll too often it’s the latter because kids don’t like the options they’re presented with and they’re tired of being pressured.

Kids need to be introduced to the workforce earlier and incrementally and they need to be supported to find their own path at their own pace – plain and simple – no easy answers.  Being given little (useless shit in the material world) and making them “earn” what they ultimately want in life; children develop a more sound work ethic that helps them appreciate what it’s like to integrate more successfully/passionately – more meaningfully – desire is something that can be grounded in curiosity and nourished.   The Swiss (in particular) educate/apprentice then educate some more, then work some more – then mature naturally – embracing new changes/challenges in a way that brings about a more constructive outcome over the long run.  Stanford University in the U.S. is doing it (starting this year) with their new ‘open loop’ design – post-secondary breakthroughs exist in active incubator systems that fertilize optimally –  even here in Toronto Canada at Ryerson University (in their Digital Media Zone).   I’m optimistic.


Closing Thoughts:

We’re being squeezed into tighter and tighter spaces costing more (too much), requiring more flexibility and willingness to sacrifice/re-locate and our kids feel disconnected; perhaps time to wake up!  There needs to be a good reason for them to learn new things – incentive.  That’s the biggest problem with north american post-secondary right now.  Kids are forced to learn stuff that’s not relevant in their world, (math/algebra, physics, chemistry, physical education etc.) and it’s hard because most teenagers don’t care about any of that – they’re more interested in learning about that which peaks their interest right now – not later.  School doesn’t do that.  High-schools, Universities and Colleges are failing to inspire their incoming/outgoing – so too many lose interest in higher learning and drift into oblivion because of it.

The one thing that is certain, is that you can’t just turn change on like a light switch when they finish high-school because if the damage has been done, it will be very difficult to repair.  This is something that needs to begin in a child’s early life.

When I was young, I was taught early on that there was no dessert until after we finished supper – eating ALL of it first – even though we hated boiled frozen peas (ok frosted with bad margerine yuk) – we had to eat them anyway OR ELSE – no pudding!   No, I’m not saying that we just give them the pudding prematurely.  I’m just suggesting that we leave the processed peas off the plate to begin with and let them discover their greens in their own time – perhaps with a more inventive way of preparing vegetables in the first place – learning to love their greens yes, because it’s healthy and because they can in fact, taste good too.

Broccoli, Asparagus, Kale, Brussel Sprouts – Green beans?  Whatever –  YUM – bring it on … erase and rewind – cause I’ve been changing my mind …


 (read all of Jim’s posts in the Blogroll and in his Journal)



Advocating Awareness – Education e-Clips 2019

Welcome readers and those curious about post-secondary education in Canada.



I have received hundreds of emails over the past few years, from people who wish to know more about what’s going on in public vs private education … specifically pertaining to media arts.  I don’t wish to make education out to be a bad thing, however there are some particularly disturbing parts of most education systems that all those navigating towards – should be aware of before signing the contract.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – it all comes down to the money.  Granted, there are a small percentage of schools (public and private), that actually do think out of the box but they are an extreme minority.  You’ll read about a few of them here in this website.  Of course, there is a bigger picture that many schools don’t really want you to see, because it’s not in their best interest to expose you to that.  I call it “pedagogical propaganda”, where there’s an internal agenda that fudges the facts, thrives on ignorance and plays on delusion.  Making good (healthy) choices means taking the time to listen (and pay attention) to what’s really going on.




How a school markets itself and what’s on the “menu” (curricula) is a good indicator (on the surface) of what’s actually going on inside.  Beware of anything that has (what I call) “high salt/sugar content” (junk food).  Ok, smells and tastes amazing, but has little/no nutritional value.  Flashy images of contrived substances lacing courses in a saturated market and all because of the immediate appeal.  For example; media arts programs (focusing primarily on music/music biz) like DJ Arts, Entertainment Business Management – Photography (anything with the word Television/TV in it), or Video Game Design & Animation (for me) are all clear indicators that this school is really just interested in making money and if they’re offering these courses/programs, then the others are likely expensive filler too, primarily designed to sign you up (hook you into a big student loan) and take your money.  Ok, if you’re a student wanting to take one of these courses, you’re doing it more for personal interest than with the intention of making a career of it.

Even non-media arts public colleges, universities and career colleges offer programs where the market is saturated, or where there is no demand (for that qualification) or where such an education has become antiquated, anachronistic and irrelevant.  There are a large number of courses/programs offered in multitudes of post-secondary schools, that were initiated at a time (decades ago) when there may have been a demand/future potential and yet continue – despite our rapidly changing world and a subsequent fall-out in the labour market (and no one is going to tell you that going in). 

Everything from that expensive “Police Foundations” program that ends up leading to a $13/hour night-shift in security; career colleges offering short Early Childcare Assistant or Community Service Worker programs (no not a real social worker), when there is next to no demand/postings for such positions.  Maybe you want to become a public school teacher (like your mom) and get a big OSAP loan to go to teacher’s college – all coming with big promises (of that new career) and no job.  Most grads drift into oblivion and those who originally sold you the course have conveniently disappeared.

Like I said – there are good schools/choices to make.  Many students graduate and go on to do great things (having done the research) but it’s largely because they are ambitious/driven, optimistic and most importantly – informed (going in).  I think it’s best that anyone seriously considering post-secondary studies to take the time needed to properly assess the situation, disconnecting from the grid for a while (before deciding) and taking any information with a grain of salt.  That school/program will still be there when you’re ready (despite what they tell you), and if it isn’t – it wasn’t worth waiting for (doing) anyway.

Whatever you do, DON’T believe everything you hear, because what they want you to believe and what’s real – are all too often very different things.


Relevant articles – A Heap of Money – by Jeremy Johnson – graduate, Metalworks Institute (2009)

Letters to the Editor in the Forum

The Learning Curve – Let it Happen – hackschooling and the anatomy of entrepreneurial spirit

The Learning Curve – An Observation in Modern Education (private vs. public post-secondary)

The Learning Curve – Erase & Rewind – introducing the open loop/non-linear post-secondary model

Black Hole Syndrome – the unspoken agenda in post secondary education

Jim Lamarche – Journal:  the human condition, gender politics, spiritual isolation, hypocrisy in modern society, renewed faith, redemption in expression

New Music Page – music composed and performed by Jim Lamarche (now in HD)


the unspoken agenda in post-secondary, media arts education

Hi there Jim,  I graduated a few years back in Music Industry Arts at Fanshawe College then Audio Post Production the year after that. Music and audio have been the passion of my life. I do sound design, voice acting, foley, composition, and video editing to name a few. I currently work in London as a courier driver and dream every day of landing any job even closely related to audio in any form.  While I mainly focused on the SFX side of things, I recently tried my hand at composing as well to strengthen my skills. Between work and my daughter, I aim for getting 1 song finished every week or two.  I’m sending you links to my work and welcome any suggestions on how I can connect with the industry.

Keith Turton – London Ontario, June 25, 2014

Hi Keith, The one given is that you need to move to Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver (New York or LA).  If there’s any chance of connecting your audio/music skills with the labour market, this is a MUST!   That being said, I am somewhat perplexed that you went to college for 4 years (assuming you did the required General Arts and Sciences prerequisite at Fanshawe first before MIA) and (so it would appear) – you still don’t know that (not your fault).  Welcome to the ‘black hole’ in media arts education.   In the $25,000 that you (or your parents) spent on schooling, and in the thousands of hours of instruction you’ve received, there is one crucial detail they left out.   You’re in London and there’s really nothing going on there – so ‘connecting with the industry’, is highly unlikely.

Jim Lamarche – June 28, 2014




The only sound that you will hear – is when I whisper in your ear

I love you

Reflecting on a few recent messages received here and in my quest for ongoing clarity, I return to my reason to write again.  I think it’s important to mention that I’m not on some sort of ‘mission’ here.  I’m simply here to help clarify.  It is simply my desire to help young people get to where they want to go by giving them useful information that they can use to their/your benefit, to assist in navigation – for those curious to know more and who come here to get insight or ask me what my opinion is – that’s all.

That being said … I received an email recently (posted in the forum) that is inspiring this most recent observation.

First, I need to reiterate.  There are many excellent post-secondary schools in Canada (some documented in my report) and what I am writing about here applies to many but not all schools.  One shopping for a quality education must look carefully at all the options and opportunities, learn to read between the lines and most importantly trust their gut instincts when finally deciding.  That being said, I think it’s important to take a really good look at what’s going on – under the surface …

There’s a kind of hush …

There is a phenomenon in most post-secondary education institutions, but especially prevalent in Media Arts Education that continues to go unnoticed.  I call it the “Black Hole Syndrome” or BHS.  Ok, you could remove the ‘H’ and still get a fairly accurate translation.  It’s a quiet agenda – created and maintained by most (private and public) colleges and yes even universities;  where important (even crucial/critical) details are left out in order to maintain the ‘status quo’.   The fall-out (ramifications) from this complex, is that in with-holding certain truths, students (all too often) are left with little or nothing to grab onto later on (and in huge debt).   Despite what appears to be a benevolent cause on the surface, registration targets must be met and routine cash-flow must be maintained in order to keep the system running smoothly.  Problem being, if students knew what they were really in for; they probably wouldn’t register and that would undermine the school’s priority mandate – to make money.  It’s just a lot easier to keep a lid on certain things rather than upset the cart.  It’s also an agenda where withdrawls (drop-outs) are minimized by carefully exercising a calculated set of damage control mechanisms set up and ready to implement at a moments notice.  I have since come to terms with the reality that similar agendas exist in most organized (commerce driven) platforms including government and corporations, fueling their need for higher profit (power/control) and therefore, an ongoing need for discretion.

Students don’t see it because they’re not supposed to see it.  It’s very much like that microscopic disclaimer – “ride at your own risk” that’s been set up in a ‘what you don’t know won’t hurt you’ kind of campaign strategy all designed to keep everyone compliantly in their place and exists almost invisibly on the periphery of an education system wishing to expand.  I’ll give you an example …

This goes back a few years, but still captures the phenomenon succinctly and continues to this day even more-so.

I clearly remember finishing my 2nd year at Fanshawe College in the MIA/Music Industry Arts program there (a 3 year program then) in 1976 in London Ontario.  This had been a phenomenal experience for me in a radical/ground-breaking liberal arts program started just a few years earlier by U.K. Radio Caroline DJ/founder Tom Lodge, who migrated to Canada and to London and somehow managed to convince the powers that be at Fanshawe to launch the program.  Classes were small and enrollment was limited to those who had made an extra effort after being put on the waiting list (that everyone was put on).  I had come from a small town (conservative community) nearby and this was an exploration into the unknown, where every day was a new experience filled with everything possible.  It was amazing!  until … the unspeakable happened.



So listen very carefully, closer now and you

will see what I mean

Tom gave a lecture once a week in the D1060 lecture hall at Fanshawe – almost philosophical in nature, to all of us curious wide eyed community college participants.  I remember it being my favourite class because he was an astounding speaker who came across as someone who genuinely cared, having created this totally unique forum of expression which manifested itself in electronic music creation in a real 8 track recording studio set up at the college with state of the art hardware, enlisting those who would carry his vision forward and into a fruitful movement that would flourish in years to come – echoing what he had experienced in Britain just a few years earlier. I distinctly remember a class/lecture where, in the early stages one of the students asked the all foreboding question … “so Tom, we’re finishing our second year here and I’m wondering where you see us going, what does our future look like?  Where do you think we can find a job in London after we graduate next year” ? 

I remember an anechoic silence in the hall and Tom feeling unusually uncomfortable with that question – almost nervous but still answering in his one of a kind english accent … “Well honestly (long pause), I think that if you seriously want to pursue a career in sound and music, you’ll need to move to a bigger city like Toronto if you want to make it work”.    I’ll never forget that moment.  It was like a vacuum in the room – a hollow emptiness that ripped us all to pieces, from the inside out.  We stumbled around aimlessly for days/weeks after thinking – what?  after investing two years of our lives here in London, we’re going to have to move away to make this work??  WTF!  I later found out that there were a handful of ‘mature’ students who already knew that (having figured it out on their own) and were already planning to move to Toronto.  Some just left not returning to third year but the bulk of us remaining – had no idea what was on the horizon.  For me, it was already a stretch – driving to London (from Woodstock) every day.  Moving to Toronto?  Unthinkable and I was under the clear impression (up until then) that I (we) didn’t have to.

What no one had told us up until then is that this was something that could only happen IF we embraced a bigger picture, (willingness to think ‘out of the box’).  Fanshawe College had recently realized that they had stumbled on a gold mine with MIA and with 800+ applications received every year (and only being able to accommodate 60).  9/10 applications were from graduating high-school students in London or the surrounding area.   There was talk of the college building a second studio and that the numbers would be increasing.  What became soon obvious was that there was BIG money to be made with this Music Industry Arts program and that it was necessary to maintain the illusion that a future (in music) could in fact happen locally.  It was then that I realized that this was the beginning of the end of Tom Lodge;  a landslide approached and a slow political dismemberment ensued.  Under pressure from the college to maintain a sense of controlled composure, Tom felt cornered and started talking more.  This was a game he couldn’t play.  I remember being in a daze all that summer – coming to terms with the reality that I would in fact have to move to Toronto, if I was going to make my career work over the longer term and it scared the living shit right out of me, now thinking that we would have to leave our families, the comfort of our homes/parents and our precious small-town peace of mind – if we wanted to make money IN the music business.

At the beginning of our third and final year, I remember the alarming absence of many faces as 1/3 were gone (dropped) and there was unrest in the general student population in MIA with a small group of students talking and organizing (out of fear).  It was almost creepy.  They were really pissed because they felt that they had been lied to and that group expanded exponentially over the first few weeks, eventually festering into a mass rebellion.  You see, that’s just it – nobody had been ‘lied to’.  It was just never discussed – even though it was obvious that 4/5 of us in the program, never had any intention of moving away – it became increasingly clear that if we stayed – there would be no jobs to go to and that the college was holding vital information that we needed to hear in order to properly plan.   I couldn’t get into the impending brawl that was coming to a boiling point and the college sensed a storm on the horizon and a whole new set of defense mechanisms were employed to contain the unrest.

I remained an observer more than a participant in the revolt.  I knew that challenging the system on that level would be futile and would just lead to nothing.  I mean, what’s going to happen?  We’re all going to get a refund?  That the MIA program would be shut down?   Never going to happen.  It was time to move on.



Tom Lodge was fired that year and what went on internally was something we were never privy to.  Tom disappeared into thin air and the situation was eventually contained.  Most of my school-mates stayed in London, getting jobs in music stores selling/renting instruments – some at Sam the Record Man – some playing in ‘lounge bands’ doing Beatles and Elton John covers – others in construction or driving truck.  Needless to say … no-one got a ‘job’ in the music industry in London (because there was no music industry there).  I, and a few others moved to Toronto – squirming my way into the music scene first as an engineer – first at Kensington Sound, then Captain Audio and Eastern Sound (Yorkville), recording my music in various studios during ‘down-time’ and getting signed to a major label (A&M/Universal Music) in ’82, doing advertising jingles/television music/sound and still struggling to keep afloat.  My income was sporadic;  some months making $10,000, and other months nothing.  I spent most of the proceeds from label advances and money made from media work on gear for my computer based home studio, eventually gravitating to education as a teacher (Trebas Institute/Ryerson University),  all because of that one answer Tom gave us in that lecture hall in London in March 1976, probably the most useful information I received in the 3 years that I attended Fanshawe.  If he had chosen to play it safe and given us the ‘textbook’ answer (would have been easy to do), I wouldn’t be here writing this.  No, I would probably be living in London (with a different family), working in a totally unrelated field (and watching TV right now).  There would be no future in sound/music, no record deal, no studios, no MAE report – no story.  I met my wife in Toronto in ’84 and had a daughter (who is 28 now) and a student at University of Toronto,  and well – long story short … it all worked out regardless.

In closing,  I was lucky where many aren’t.  I got what I needed when I needed it.  I am so thankful for that (in retrospect).  The deceptions/delusions continue in education and where we think, we’re getting what we need to make it all work, there are an equal amount of hidden obstacles/smoke screens that are designed to throw us off course just long enough to maintain the comfort and security of those who would like us to think that we’re making the right choices – for them.  Today, the phenomenon continues in all sectors of post-secondary education.  What we’re told and what’s real are often two very different things.  Important information remains hidden and facts are fudged to spin a favourable outcome for new students who are unsure coming in.  When it comes to a prognosis in modern education – the future always looks good regardless.

One final observation/conclusion.  Public colleges and universities will likely never change.  Those (private) educational institutions (in Media Arts or otherwise) who survive over the long term, will embrace the opportunities in being honest/telling the truth – plain and simple.  Schools/programs that continue to deceive/control will fall away and those who are up front with their intentions will thrive/prosper, only because they are following a path that truly educates their students, (taking the road less traveled), embracing risk – knowing that we’re only here for a short time and that creating/earning trust can (in fact) evolve into win-win.  Ok wishful thinking …

Short term pain – long term gain can be a whole new way of moving forward – that benefits everyone
and … that saying it like it is – is ultimately what good education is all about.










dedicated to Tom Lodge  (1936 – 2012)





MAE 2014 Launch

Jim Lamarche’s NEW Media Arts Education Report – website up

After 5 months of rebuilding, Jim Lamarche has re-invented his original Media Arts Education Report in a proper WordPress website as of February 10, 2014. The new (updated) report/bio/forum and surveys are on-line, even links to Jim’s journal and youtube channels.