Letters: Call a halt to the rushing through of Junior Cert reform
Published 11/07/2014 | 02:30
In view of the cabinet changes this week, I think we should ask Enda Kenny and the new Education Minister to consider placing on hold the threatened changes to the Junior Cert syllabus and exam system.
The measures being rushed in have not been thought through. It was not for nothing that the former Education Minister got the slow hand clap at the recent meeting with the Teachers' Union.
Irish education is respected throughout the world. Of course it is not perfect.
The proposed measures have failed elsewhere in the English-speaking world.
'Rote learning' ought not to be a dirty word. Children are ready for it and most enjoy the process. But they need the training at the appropriate age. This equips them for life.
It is common knowledge that a change to internal marking would destroy the credibility of the Junior Cert.
Paradoxically (for a change introduced by a member of the Labour Party) it would lead straight back to elitism, as parents and employers will disregard the grades and look instead at the good name, or otherwise, of the school.
In districts where there is competition among schools for a limited number of pupil entrants, it will place intolerable pressure on teachers.
All realise that dropping the final exam will lead to a very great loss of incentive on pupils to do their best. And the value of the Junior Cert in preparing them for the Leaving Cert exam conditions will be lost.
Yes, of course, there is pressure – but it is not the exam that is to blame, it is the fact that many people are competing for fewer successful placings afterwards. The actual method of awarding final grades, and college placements, will make not the slightest difference to the stress on candidates so long as they know that 'all compete, but not all will succeed'.
The only way to eliminate this stress would be to award college places via a lottery.
I have taught in Australia, England and Ireland, and can vouch for all of these points from personal experience.
MICHEAL O FEARGHAIL
GLANMIRE, CO CORK
A FAIR GESTURE
If Garth Brooks eventually gets permission to play to 400,000 people in Dublin, would it not be a fair gesture for Brooks and the promoter and the GAA to donate €400,000 to the St Vincent De Paul and let the less well-off benefit also?
MILL ROAD, MIDLETON, CO CORK
TAKING A STAND
It is a pity that the Croke Park protesters were not sent to Brazil, then I would not be subjected to wall-to-wall televised soccer.
I am a prisoner in my spare room to avoid the roaring and shouting and expletives directed at the TV.
I cannot go out of the house as the beer-swilling fans will not allow me back until the game is over.
I've had enough. I want all games banned. I know hundreds of millions watch the games but I insist on my rights. As a begrudging compromise I would allow half a game be played. If this is not agreed to, I will go to Brazil and get a court injunction.
CLONES, CO MONAGHAN
IT'S NOT LIKE FOR LIKE, DAVID
David McWilliams "waited hours for two stitches" in Ireland, because doctors here were probably busy seeing a child within 40 minutes with suspected septic arthritis. His medical comparison is akin to that of Ireland's economic crisis and how a seven-year-old might spend their Holy Communion stash.
DR DAIRE SHANAHAN GDP
PORTLAOISE, CO LAOIS
LET JOAN GET ON WITH THE JOB
I found Maurice O'Connell's letter (Irish Independent, July 9) very disappointing. I think he completely missed the point of private talks (no leaks) and careful negotiation.
One must accept, however reluctantly, that now is not the time to make strident and public demands. Now is the time to act firmly and quietly in the interests of the people.
Joan Burton has proven that she does this on a daily basis, without fuss or kudos. Her style is clear and unequivocal. She has always demonstrated pragmatism, one of the requirements listed by Mr O'Connell. I fail to understand his very negative assessment.
I believe that no one has lost sight of Labour's manifesto. Implementation of social responsibility will always come first. But better to do it from within the circle of Government than bleat in futile woe from beyond the pale.
Joan Burton has been Labour leader for all of five days. For heaven's sake, let her get on with it.
PATRICIA R MOYNIHAN
CASTAHEANY, CO DUBLIN
ELECTED MAYOR IS NO SOLUTION
Eamon Delaney (Irish Independent, July 10) argues strongly, on the morning that the Mexican Ambassador is spurred to help restore perspicacity and equilibrium to the decision-making regime of Dublin City Council, that a directly elected mayor would have spared our latest humiliating, self-inflicted controversy.
The most important asset of a city is its reputation and energy; qualities rooted in conviction, earned over centuries – but capable of being undermined beyond repair in minutes by inadequacy and delinquency. The unique character of any thriving city is reflected in the quality of its planning.
The effective administration of a city depends hugely on the calibre of the leadership, vision, capability, judgment, credibility and imagination of city fathers and their integrity.
When one looks at the Irish political enterprise, there is no reason to confidently believe that these qualities are any more abundant among elected persons than they are among those who are appointed, so the pursuit of the elected mayor would be a meaningless charade.
GLENAGEARY, CO DUBLIN
PRIEST TYING HIMSELF UP IN KNOTS
Fr Padraig O Baoill claims that eastern philosophy is "contemptible" and advises his parishioners that participating in yoga and other eastern forms of exercise will be jeopardising their souls.
I presume he has evidence to prove his claim, and I also presume that as a follower of Jesus Christ he is more than aware he is morally bound to be totally honourable (truthful) in all of his dealings with his fellow men.
As a practitioner of yoga, I consider his remarks offensive, but understand his predicament, clearly described by the ninth-century Irish philosopher John Scotus Eriugena: "All things proceed from the good and in the good they must end. The only hell is ignorance."
In 2014, we should be well aware of the dangers of pontificating inanely from a pulpit, or via a parish newsletter.
A DOSE OF REALITY
I refer to John Fitzgerald's letter (Letters, July 9) advocating that the Department of Agriculture focus its energies on the search for a badger vaccine.
Mr Fitzgerald appears to assume that if a vaccine is developed it will be made available. If the experience of Multiple Sclerosis sufferers is any barometer, I respectfully suggest that he is delusional. A drug has been developed, Fampridine, that does improve the quality of life of a significant percentage of MS sufferers but is not being made available by the Department of Health.
PIERCESTOWN, CO WEXFORD