Saturday 7 December 2019

More to Leaving than memorising

According to Michael Moriarty, chief executive of the Irish Vocational Education Association, Leaving Cert students "can do well if they can simply memorise facts" (Irish Independent, October 6).

I cannot speak for other subjects, but as far as maths is concerned, this is false.

It is simply impossible to do well by memorisation, and the much-criticised course neither requires nor encourages rote memorisation.

If students find that they are required to memorise to any great extent by their teachers, they can be sure they are not being taught properly, particularly at higher level.

Professor Tom Collins, the newly-appointed interim President of NUI Maynooth, adds to this criticism in the same report, but his views do not bear scrutiny.

Of course teachers and students are reluctant to "experiment and use innovative techniques" in exam years. Of course teachers "teach to the test" as students come closer to exams -- they would be highly irresponsible not to do so.

Does Prof Collins seriously believe that university students do not "study to the test" as they get closer to exams?

As for Professor Collins' solutions? Allocate places "by lottery". No comment.

I have no problem with adjusting the Leaving Cert, but I have serious concerns replacing it with something perhaps far worse.

James McGrath
Hollyford, Co Tipperary

Irish Independent

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