Saturday 20 January 2018

Leaving Cert ordinary English paper 'most student friendly in years', teacher claims

The growth in enrolments is fuelling the demand for more second-level schools and, as the pupils come through to the Leaving Cert, will also add to pressure for college places. Stock photo: PA
The growth in enrolments is fuelling the demand for more second-level schools and, as the pupils come through to the Leaving Cert, will also add to pressure for college places. Stock photo: PA
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The Leaving Certificate got off to a good start with a “wonderful paper” for higher level English candidates, and the “most student friendly paper in years” at ordinary level, according to one teacher.

Jim Lusby of the Institute of Education, Dublin said the higher level Paper 1 richly rewarded candidates who read widely, who are sensitive to the power and beauty of language, and who think independently.

“At a time when the Irish education system is being criticised for failing to promote critical thinking in second level education, this paper is the perfect riposte,” he said.

He said the paper’s general theme, Different Worlds, could not have been more contemporary or more urgent.

According to Mr Lusby, the chosen texts continued the welcome trend in recent years  of insisting that language and literature are one, that Paper I and Paper 2 are actually separate parts of the same subject.

One of the texts was by the American writer Paul Auster, a second was on the Scottish poet and artist Robert Montgomery, and the third was by the English historian Timothy Garton Ash.

“All were both stimulating and challenging, as were the comprehension questions set on them. The piece on Montgomery was accompanied by splendid images of his often controversial street art," he said.

In the compositions, section, Mr Lusby said there was a “wonderful range of thought-provoking writing tasks, both in the shorter functional writing exercises and in the full-length compositions.”  

Read More: Student Diary: The suspense is so bad I even tried (and failed) to make my own fidget spinner as a distraction

A number deserved special mention, he said, “from the fairly standard discursive essay on advertising, through the imaginative descriptive piece entitled Night Scene, to this year’s novelty, a dialogue in dramatic form promoting your invention of the wheel in the Stone Age, which may or may not catch on.”

Mr Lusby described the ordinary level Paper 1, with the theme of School Days, as a “delight” and a “perfect fit” for ordinary level students.

The texts included an article by the contemporary Irish writer Donal Ryan, extracts from the personal story of Nujeen Mustafa, a disabled Syrian refugee, and a combination of written and visual elements exploring school days past and present.

Mr Lusby said the  comprehension questions were both “accessible and engaging.”

Read More: From Cher to Shaggy to Robin Thicke - which song was number one when you did the Leaving Cert?

He described the Question B writing tasks as standard, but the framing of the questions was “both thought-provoking and directly relevant to students’ lives.”

Mr Lusby said the compositions presented students with a range of titles, from a reflective personal essay to the rather wacky invitation to write the diary entries of a robot teacher.

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