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A day for students to keep calm and take it steady

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One in four students sitting their Leaving Cert were not afforded the opportunity to sit the Junior Cert because of the pandemic.

One in four students sitting their Leaving Cert were not afforded the opportunity to sit the Junior Cert because of the pandemic.

One in four students sitting their Leaving Cert were not afforded the opportunity to sit the Junior Cert because of the pandemic.

We spend much of our early days at school learning the rules, and the later ones learning the exemptions. But for thousands of students today, it is all about getting on with it.

The Leaving Cert marks both an end and a beginning, while the Junior Cert is somewhere in between.

For all, it is useful to understand that the measure of your talents – and all you have to offer the world – will never be reduced to a single result or set of points.

Even for the most erudite, there is no such thing as a complete education; there will always be striving and never arriving.

The stop-start nature of the past two years has been anything but normal, so if you are feeling a bit stressed or put-upon today, that is entirely to be expected.

In-person learning has been disrupted along with every other aspect of life. But you have come through it all, and today the most important thing you can do is back yourself.

Many will find themselves sitting their first state exam. That is because one in four of this year’s students did not get a chance to sit the Junior Cert in 2020 due to the pandemic.

It is instructive to note that everything is not an emergency, despite the hype surrounding exams. Your consciousness only allows you to deal with one problem at a time, so go with it.

There are those who have had a fixed focus throughout their schooling. For those, the journey has been a straight line. For others, it has been a meandering maze.

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From here on, what matters is to tune in to what feels right for you.

This is an opportunity to excel, account for yourself and do as best you can.

You can do no more than your best, and you owe it to yourself to do no less. It is vital to maintain a sense of proportion and not to surrender to a false sense of urgency. Thanks to your work, the support of your teachers and parents, you are ready for today.

As Oscar Wilde said: “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”

The German-born American doctor, Martin H Fischer, was a hard taskmaster.

He insisted that his medical students who were not prepared should put in 18-hour days, seven days a week.

However, for all his austere outlook, he saw a central place for compassion in learning, as evidenced here: “Where are gone those older spirits in education who knew and taught boldly that school is an apprenticeship, and a hard one, for a life harder yet? And that prayer is necessary not to escape burdens but for strength the better to carry them?”

Today, be in no doubt that you can carry such burdens.

Keep calm in the knowledge that you are in control. Take confidence from knowing that fear cannot take what you do not give it.


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