* I always fear what I see as a ministerial PR stunt, especially when it goes unchallenged. Education Minister Ruairi Quinn's project runs roughshod over the reservations of teachers, particularly in the area of assessment.
In a radio interview, he went totally unchallenged as he promoted his Framework for Junior Cycle. Does it not appear strange that he failed to consult teachers, the experts in education? Did he fear that the changes in assessment might be exposed as a money-saving rather than educationally sound exercise?
The proposed statement of achievement, at the end of Junior Cycle, will not be state-certified. So let's call a spade a spade. It will be a school report, nothing more and nothing less. Why would he not want students to have state certification, considering he expects them to achieve so much under his new proposals?
If Mr Quinn's proposals go ahead, the first time students will be assessed by the State will be at the Leaving Certificate Examination. If we think senior cycle students are currently under pressure, what will it be like for them in the future facing a state examination for the first time after six years at second level?
He speaks about project work as if it is the answer to all our woes. Mr Quinn should talk to teachers, whose subjects currently have a second component such as a project. He might then understand the difficulties of this approach.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, this minister does not listen. He stated that there are sufficient resources to deal with the implementation of the Framework for Junior Cycle.
We in the profession know that there is a total lack of resources and that schools depend hugely on the goodwill of teachers.
Perhaps if the teachers gave up the teaching part of their job, they might have time to make out exams, assess, moderate and deal with appeals – all in the name of progress at Junior Cycle.
Mr Quinn would be well advised to consider the excellent ASTI publication 'Teachers' Voice'. Talking to and consulting with the experts would be a very worth-while experience for him.
Maire G Ni Chiarba
Muinteoir meanscoile, Priomhoide chunta & ball de Bhuanchoiste Chumann na Meanmhuinteoiri
HAIR'S A NEW RISK
* With the recent controversies over the parentage of non-stereotypical Roma children, we have to wonder whether there is now such a thing as being illegally blonde?
EU FOCUSING ON TRIVIAL
* The EU had one of its many euro summits last week and there were many serious issues to consider: the ongoing debt issue, the massive unemployment problems across the EU especially among the youth, to name but two of them.
Yet what was discussed was the minor problem concerning German Chancellor Angela Merkel when it was found that the NSA had been listening to her mobile phone calls.
There was not a problem some weeks ago when it was found that most of the German population's phone calls were being listened to. One wonders – does it suit the EU that the major issues are not dealt with and put on the back-burner?
Frankly, I cannot understand the problem of spying as the only revelation that happened was that someone got caught.
DEER OLD PHOTOGRAPHY
* Your wonderful picture, of the crow sitting on the deer's head, reminded me of a song from 'The Sound of Music' . . . All together now: Crow, a deer, a female deer . . .
Mealisheen, Leap, Co Cork
CUSACK'S BRAVE WORDS
* I'd like to complement former Cork hurler Conor Cusack, younger brother of legendary Cork goalkeeper Donal Og, for his honesty in writing about his battle with depression and how he was able to move on with his life in 'Depression is a friend, not my enemy', (Irish Independent, October 29).
It is very brave for a young man like himself to speak as openly as he does and his wisdom shines clearly through his writing, a wisdom gained from facing his demons and being prepared to be vulnerable. He writes about therapy as a "challenging experience" and "it can be quite scary".
I myself suffered depression in my late teens and early 20s and like Conor benefitted from psychotherapy, having originally been diagnosed as suffering from manic depression at the age of 20. Last July I celebrated 20 years free from all psychiatric medication.
FERGIE'S KEANE EGO
* In relation to the much-discussed contretemps between Alex Ferguson and Roy Keane inter alia, let us not get our underwear into a proverbial tangle. It is an argument of two halves. To be fair, both Roy and Alex gave 110pc for their club Manchester United. We cannot ask any more of the lads than that.
Some egos have been bruised in the current spat but nobody has died.
Longwood Co Meath
DRAMA DRIVING RATINGS
* Have we reached the pinnacle of television?
A few weeks back we saw the eagerly awaited finale of the TV show, 'Breaking Bad'. After five years of top-notch drama, more than 10 million viewers were treated to an epic conclusion. It took the internet and social media sites by storm. The show that encapsulated and enthralled so many, finally came to a gratifying conclusion. Vince Gilligan's writing is genius.
In recent years other shows have been aired displaying a tremendously excellent narrative. 'The Walking Dead' and the Irish hit 'Love/Hate', are examples of such shows. It is the expertise of these narratives that allow them to garner so much attention. Show writers have really come a long way.
Television is evidently at its best right now. With TV services now shifting online, it is no surprise ratings for shows rocket into the millions each week.
Aaron McCormack (15)
Kilcormac, Co Offaly
GRASS IS OFTEN GREENER
* Your editorial 'Emigration is a poor substitute for real choice', (Irish Independent, October 26) raises some interesting points.
However, in line with the majority of Irish media coverage of emigration, the melancholic tone betrays the reality for many of the people who leave this country in search of work.
Yes, for some emigration is a terrible thing, yet for a vast number of young, well-educated and ambitious people – a group I include myself in – having the option to go overseas and find decent, fulfilling employment in line with our skills is something to celebrate, as well as being a privilege.
The grass is not always greener; but it can be worth a look.
Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon
LICENCE FEE IS WASTED
* There are a number of irritating advertisements on radio and television these days and the one which insists that it is the law to have a television licence is among the most infuriating.
Yet for the €160 fee, purchasers of licences are still being insulted with the general lack of quality in the programmes being screened. Saturday night should be a prime viewing time but the offering on RTE 1 these weeks is an affront to people's intelligence.
Surely RTE could do better?
Dunshaughlin, Co Meath