Last week I went to a lecture and walked out of it feeling completely inspired and enlightened. It wasn’t for school though – it was a lecture I went to for fun. What’s that you say? For fun? That’s impossible! I know lectures aren’t usually synonymous with the word fun. In fact, before I came to university (or even started school for that matter), lectures were what you got after getting in trouble.
Now lectures have a different meaning. Lectures are an everyday part of the average life of a university student. We spend hours and hours listening to our professors delivering their weekly lectures in the hopes of soaking in and retaining the information in time for exams. Many times I know I have been guilty of dozing off or being distracted in my thoughts during class. It is pretty normal; although it happens way too often for my liking.
If you think about it, we pay hundreds of dollars per class and thousands in total to hear what our professors have to say. Often times, depending on the class, it seems like a recycled lecture that doesn’t change much from year to year. But different departments in the school host lecture series in areas where new development and innovation take place. Hart House is the place to go for several speaker events as well. Most of the time these lectures are completely free and open to everyone. If not, tickets go on sale for some lectures and are still very well attended and well worth it.
Going to lectures outside of the curriculum is a lot like reading for fun. You go in with an open mind and you learn so much without the obligation of seeping every little detail of information into your brain. The lecture I went to was the Massey Lecture by Douglas Coupland held in convocation hall. Douglas Coupland is a Canadian author and artist who chose to write a five-part novel for his lecture commenting on society growing up in a world with technology. If you aren’t familiar with Massey Lectures, they are usually held by prominent figures who can speak about anything and everything. Last year, it was led by famous Canadian author Margaret Atwood, who surprised everyone when she chose to speak about the economy. I’m not usually one to go to lectures for fun, but I went to this one because I am a huge Coupland fan and the premise of Massey Lectures was something that stood out to me.
Speaker series and conferences are available all throughout the year and are offered by several different student groups. I even remember being in high school and attending a conference at U of T where one of the English profs analyzed the elements of rap songs with us. With the vast amount of ongoing events, there is bound to be a lecture about something somewhere that will interest you. It’s a great way to get inspired and get out of the humdrum of what you’re learning. It could be what gets you to discover a different field of study or even what makes you realize the real world relevance of what you’re currently studying.
U of T offers several opportunities to listen in on the interesting things people have to say. But if you are looking to get inspired right now, a great place to go is TED talks where there are many videos uploaded from lectures given all over the world, by several prominent leaders. Listening to the stories and ideas of other people is motivating, inspirational and the breath of fresh air from the routine of everyday school lectures that we could all use from time to time.