Kevin Myers: While I'm paying for the education of young people, I want to see them learn useful skills
Published 04/03/2010 | 05:00
PERHAPS the most important recent observations about Irish life were uttered by the former boss of Intel, the American Craig Barrett. One way or another, he said, we've just about blown all the human assets we once had, and all that remains is a good tax base.
So that's it. Neither our graduates, nor the mathematics and scientific degrees that they flourish in front of the camera, are good enough. And if the accumulating disadvantages of Irish society outweigh the diminishing benefits of our low-tax regime, why, then goodbye wealth, and hello Haiti.
Minister Batt O'Keeffe, perhaps having learnt his lesson from having closed down the entire educational system on the basis of a weather forecast that didn't even promise snow for half the country, has cautiously established a "review" of exam grades. Google's John Herlihy said he was "thrilled" at this. Good. But it was the response from John White, the general secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland, that encapsulated the culture of smugness, unrealism and downright silliness that helped turn the Celtic Tiger into dog meat. He said that accusations of "dumbing down" in Leaving Cert results were "unsubstantiated", and were "unfair" on those young people (poor lickul uzzums) who had worked so hard to reach their potential.