Sunday 21 January 2018

Minister's move away from rote learning is a positive

More emphasis needs to be placed on numeracy and literacy levels, writes Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Mary Mitchell O'Connor

THERE'S been a renewed focus over the last week on the Education Minister's plans to reform the junior cycle and to effectively abolish the Junior Cert exam and replace it with a system of continual assessment for our second-level students. The response to Minister Ruairi Quinn's plans has been far from universal acceptance.

Change for the sake of change, we are told, is not a good thing. But anything that can move us away from the over-reliance on rote learning at second level and towards a system where adaptability and creativity is encouraged and enhanced has the potential, in my view, to be something very positive.

Our education system, particularly at second level, has become hugely reliant on rote learning in recent decades, leaving us with a situation where the students getting the highest grades are those who can learn huge tracts of text off by heart and reproduce it in an exam situation. The foundations for this approach are laid in the run-up to the Junior Cert and are cemented at Leaving Cert level.

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