Friday 18 August 2017

The race for third level manipulates and destroys young people

State snobbery puts young adults out on a miserable limb of perceived failure

Emer O'Kelly

Those who take higher level papers in the Leaving Cert exam represent the intellectual cream of our second level education system, right? Well, no actually. The Irish Universities Association task force on reform of university selection and entry has suggested that students who score below 40pc (in other words, a fail mark by any currently known standard) should be given "compensatory" points for having taken the higher level paper in the first place. In other words, reward failure.

Meanwhile, an Economic and Social Research Institute report has come up with the earth-shattering finding that young people who suffer from stress during their final school year have the most difficulty in making the transition from school to third level. So if you're struggling to make the grade in the heavily-structured school system, you're likely to be totally overwhelmed when you hit college or university. Who'd a' thunk it, as the Americans say? (The report also found that middle-class youngsters are more likely to go to third level than those from disadvantaged backgrounds: gosh!)

And yet we're relentlessly pursuing the aim of third level education for all, using it as a marker for our "developed economy".

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