Baylis, Jonathan


He/ Him/ His

Job Title

Jazz Bassist


Hamilton Street Swing

EDST Degree/s and graduation year/s

MEd, 1988


Adult Learning and Education (ALE)


New Westminster, BC, Canada


Jonathan R. Baylis, MA 1978, MEd, 1988

UBC Education students and faculty may know Jonathan as the MEd Adult Education student who graduated in 1988 with a major paper in adult English language education program planning needs assessment. At that time, I was deeply immersed in my work as a language adult educator and obsessed with the notion that language education for adults, mostly refugees, had to be better attuned to the needs and interests of that clientele. I was keenly aware that teaching language had to be done with intentional topical content as language is inseparable from meaning. I taught English language to new Canadians first at Vancouver Community College, then Beijing Medical College, Canada Language Centre – the second private language school in Vancouver, Canadian International College – a Japanese/Canadian attempt at content-based language education for Japanese high school graduates and Douglas College EASL Department. I worked for Douglas College for twenty years, during which time I led the team that created the TESL Program and coordinated the EASL Department for four years. I retired from Douglas College in 2015. Today, I identify as a professional jazz bassist. My quartet, the Hamilton Street Swing, was working regularly at a wide variety of celebrations and swing dances until Covid. We are now practicing again and preparing for the reopening of live musical performance. My MA is in theology. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, I came to Canada in 1974 to study theology at Regent College on the UBC Campus. I make sense of the world as an avid Jesus follower. No, I never wanted to be a priest or minister. I just wanted to be a lay person who understood at the highest possible academic level, the origins, documents, and history of the faith which guided my life. Regent College was one of the few institutions that offered an academic as opposed to a professional program in theology. Philosophy before profession was and still is my priority.



Jonathan’s Story

Tell us more about your (current or previous) position. Describe your role.

I left post-secondary education several years ago to work as a performing jazz musician. I also volunteer in refugee settlement.

What gives you meaning and fulfillment in your work?

Seeing students learn and succeed.

What are some of the challenges you have faced?

International education for profit. Denigration of English Language Studies as a discipline.

What are some accomplishments or highlights that you are most proud of?

I initiated, developed and implemented the Teaching English as a Second Language program that operates out of Douglas College.

Tell us a bit about your path leading to your graduate degree. Why did you decide to pursue graduate studies?

I studied linguistics as an undergraduate and taught English language for three years, all the time building an appetite for more knowledge and expertise. I completed the MEd in 1988.

How has what you learned in your graduate program informed your work?

I know a lot more about how adults learn.

How does your area of work relate to your dissertation?

I wrote about language learners’ needs assessment and curriculum design and practiced both throughout my career.

What is your most memorable experience from your time in EDST?

I loved my Education Administration course. I had to write all my papers on small cards, forcing me to become concise.

What is something that you needed to learn (beyond your degree) or unlearn to be able to work in your sector?

I developed my own approaches to grammatical and pronunciation accuracy.

Tell us a little about your career journey. Are there any transitions in your career path or any key moments that led to a change in direction?

When Douglas College excluded immigrants and refugees from their English language courses, I left. That exclusion was corrupt and outside the college’s and my professional mission.

How did you envision your career journey when you started your EDST program? And how did your career journey actually take off?

I say myself as a leader. I then served in a number of leadership positions.

Did your expectations for your career trajectories after graduation align with what really ended up happening? in what ways did they differ?

Yes. I made it to department head but not to dean.

What is next for you, or do you know?

Jazz performance.

How did your identity (who you are in terms of gender, race, age, being a parent or not, or citizenship, etc.) shape your career choices?

Raising three children motivated me to stay employed.

What does meaningful contribution mean to you?

Transformation. Making/facilitating lasting improvements in people’s lives.

Where do issues of inclusion find a place in your life or at work?

The Creator loves us all; so must we. Sometimes we have to fight inequality.

What advice would you give to your past self?

Stand up to bullies. Never doubt the value of your contribution.

What advice would you give to someone seeking to transition outside of academia?

The educator’s skills are valuable in most other sectors.

What advice would you give to EDST students trying to make the most of their time in grad school?

Your thesis/dissertation is not your final word. It is a snapshot of your thinking at the present moment. Finish it as such. Don’t try to make it your life’s work.

What advice would you give to someone seeking to expand their networks?

Talk with people, in person, at every opportunity. I got the best advice for my MEd sitting by the water on North Pender Island!

What motivated you to start your own organization (business, non-profit, foundation)?

I saw an opportunity to do lasting good.

Tell us about any international work experience you embarked on during or after your program.

I designed an English language program for Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade. A colleague and I spend two weeks there interviewing students, faculty and administrators then writing and presenting. It was great fun and very interesting.

How has remote work impacted your job/sector?

Live music paused for two years.