Failing better and getting just rewards
Published 15/08/2015 | 02:30
The Biblical notion that the last shall be first and the first shall be last never really cut it when it came to the Leaving Cert.
Those with the big points bagged the glittering prizes and those in the slipstream shuffled on.
Conventional wisdom holds that there has to be a better, fairer, more egalitarian or holistic approach.
One that takes a multi-dimensional look at performance as opposed to investing everything in the outcome of a single exam.
The latest attempt to level things off and also produce a truer and more accurate picture of a student's performance will be regarded as either very smart or extremely desperate depending on your perspective.
Students who fail will still get 37 points for a mark of between 30-39pc in a Leaving Certificate higher-level paper. This is novel, to say the least. But the thinking is that it could incentivise more students to opt for honours level.
There is a logic in this in as much as that, as things stand, a mark of between 30pc and 39pc requires as much input and effort as it would to achieve a good pass at lower level.
Yet there is no recognition for such work, thus students opt for safety first and go for the pass.
Universities and institutes of technology have signed off on the change, so any opposition at this point is somewhat academic, to coin a phrase.
People have been complaining about the grinding nature of examinations and baying for a review.
This may or may not be the answer, but it is the first real change in the CAO points and grading system in two decades.
And if school is to be more then merely getting grades, then one has to begin somewhere.
However, others will have genuine concerns that there could be a degree of dumbing down in awarding points for failing.
They'll argue that this is not a cotton-wool world and that the Leaving Cert is the ultimate reality check. Nonetheless, the griping about the glaring shortcomings of the current sytem has gone on for long enough.
As Samuel Beckett once wrote: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."
The Department of Education is finally giving students a chance to fail better.
Mr Beckett, at least, would be pleased.
Big Brother and your credit card
Notions of personal integrity and privacy are always problematic, but there is a growing perception that with every passing day, a little more of an individual's identity is encroached upon by Government in the name of number crunching.
Few will get a warm, fuzzy feeling from the news that the Revenue Commissioners are now able to examine how one uses one's credit card.
Credit and debit card information is also being supplied by "merchant acquirer firms" to Revenue to check if businesses online are tax compliant.
The justification for the scrutiny is to stop money being swallowed up and spirited away in e-commerce.
This is reasonable, but only up to a point.
One doesn't have to be paranoid to get a sense of mission creep by Government - a feeling that there is an erosion of freedoms as it snoops into every aspect of life.
It is understood that there are no secrets in cyberspace, but the right to feel that there isn't someone breathing over your shoulder with a file under their arm should mean something.