Sunday 21 January 2018

'Obscure' world religion topic puts pressure on pupils

BOTH higher and ordinary level Leaving Cert religious education pupils faced a difficult question on world religion.

Overall, pupils and teachers considered the higher level paper to be "very fair".

Section A on the search for meaning and values gave great scope to pupils who had concentrated on the classics. Section B gave them a nice opportunity to bring in their own experiences and to connect the outside world with academia, according to teacher Aisling Flood of the ASTI and St Joseph's Secondary School, Drogheda, Co Louth.

She found unit two, Section B, on Christianity to be "very good" since it built on the foundations of the Junior Cert. "I'd like to see more of that," she said.

However, the world religions section and, in particular, part B "did not go very well" for pupils, she said.

Pupils were asked how a connection between the sacred and the profane may be found in two of the following features of primal religion: Mana, Shaman, Tabu and Totem.

It was "very unlikely" that pupils would have sufficiently covered enough ground to answer the question adequately and Ms Flood said it was "very unfair" to award 40 marks to such an obscure topic.

Meanwhile, ordinary level pupils faced the same question phrased in slightly simpler language, leaving them "very much under pressure", according to Ms Flood. "It was extremely challenging and the content was very heavy – these were very demanding questions for ordinary level," she said.

She said she would like to see more internal choices within questions, to give pupils a chance to bring in what they know.

"Examiners should be aware that it is really not acceptable to pick such obscure topics for high marks – it's pretty mean-spirited," said Ms Flood.

Irish Independent

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