Tuesday 20 August 2019

Sinead Ryan: 'Glad I've left Leaving Cert days behind'

 

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

Now that the Leaving Cert is almost here, we can look forward to a spell of sunshine and heat. But that's the only good thing about it.

One of my happiest days was when my youngest finished his final State exam and I realised I would never, ever have to sit through another paper post-mortem.

Never again would I have to wrestle my way through the speed-dating that passes for parent/teacher meetings, elbowing other mothers out of the way to get to the top of the maths queue, wondering if I could bypass the religion teacher in favour of the history one, impatient to hear how great my kids were in class, only to be told that they needed to apply themselves more.

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Never again would I wait in nervous anticipation for the school report card. No more Masses, ceremonies, graduations, concerts, art competitions, bake sales or book stalls.

My Augusts would no longer be consumed by uniforms, books, shoes and sports gear. My Septembers would be free from demands for money, notes squished with mushed banana at the bottom of school bags, early alarm clocks, ham sandwiches, taxi runs, and re-runs of the taxi runs with forgotten gear/books/notes/equipment.

I miss none of it, and if it's all still ahead of you, well, good luck with that.

Most parents would throw themselves in front of a bus for their children. They'd commit murder for them, If they're sick, we wish it was us instead. When they cry, we want to take their pain.

But it strikes me that throughout their entire education, there are two things we wouldn't swap with them - or at least, I wouldn't. One is head lice, the other is sitting the Leaving Cert again.

You're on your own, kiddos. Off you go, don't come home 'til it's over, and please God we all get to the end of June with our lives and hearts intact.

It's a terrible, terrible system. But, much like democracy, we haven't yet found a better way to do it.

There's nothing edifying about the rote learning, the strategic studying to questions, the points race. Mine are now through under-grad and (almost) masters' degrees and they say nothing - nothing at all - was as awful as the Leaving Cert.

So, to all Leaving Cert parents, I'm thinking of you - and enjoy the sun while you can.

Working as an examiner can be quite testing

Leaving Cert students may have to wait even longer to get their papers corrected this year. A call has been put out for extra examiners, as there is a shortage of teachers available.

Paper-correcting is soul-destroying. I was an examiner for five years for a professional body and let me tell you, doctors have nothing on the bad hand-writing of some students.

That, and the fact that writing itself isn't taught any more.

The hardest part is dissociating how you, the examiner, might be feeling, from the exam paper in front of you.

There is no room for having a bad day, a toothache, too much coffee or a row with your spouse... you can't let any of it impinge on the student whose years of hard work now sits in front of you.

It is a job that requires huge responsibility, so let's hope the teachers that do apply are up for it.

School's out for Theresa, but no lessons learned

Someone who definitely failed her Leaving Cert last week was Theresa May.

The put-upon PM gave a teary goodbye, leaving us none the wiser about Brexit and with the scary prospect of Boris in Number 10. Not even an 'E' for effort.

Irish Independent

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