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Final Exam

Black and white photo of singer and social activist Raine Maida. Raine is staring away from the camera.

Creative Force

Singer and social activist Raine Maida discusses the power that comes with a profound education.

By Laura Bickle
Photo: Matthew Guido

Name: Raine Maida

Describe yourself in elementary school.

Introverted and shy but still a part of it — I had great relationships with my teachers.

What was your most challenging subject and why?

Science. It was so foreign to me.

What was your favourite subject?

Also science — I like to be challenged. The aspect of discovery was so interesting. It paralleled my exploration of music and discovering chords and melodies.

What were your favourite literary pieces from your school days?

I had a Grade 5 teacher who was sort of an outlier — he wore a leather jacket. We talked about poetry and literature, and he told me that while I wasn’t ready for it, I’d like the Beat poets. That comment stuck, and when I was in Grade 10 I started reading Ginsberg and On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I thought to myself — I want to sing these types of words.

Who are your favourite writers?

American philosopher, academic, activist and author Cornel West. My favourite book is Democracy Matters. He says it like it is. Also inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who wrote The Age of Spiritual Machines.

What are you currently reading?

Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia. It’s amazing how consumers — particularly millennials — are influencing a wave of corporate consciousness. They want to buy from socially responsible companies.

What do you wish you had been taught in school but weren’t?

My education was very linear. I’m envious of how students now learn with more emphasis on creativity.

What was your favourite school lunch?

My mom always made me tuna sandwiches, which I hated. I traded them for Nutella.

If you could pick any year to attend school in, what era would you choose?

Now. I really do believe that now is the best time to be in school. It’s the age of ideas, and when teachers understand that, it’s powerful and profound. I’ve always been a big fan of education as a weapon for change.

If you could learn any language, which would you pick?

Chinese. It would be so daunting but I would love to try it.

Best advice you received during your school years that you still think of?

It’s actually a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “As soon as there is life there is danger.” I thought of that when I left the University of Toronto before graduating, to pursue music. It was definitely a dangerous choice but it made me feel alive. Being comfortable isn’t always good.