Teachers resist change because current system benefits them
Recent education controversies, such as school-based assessment of pupils, beg the question why are second-level teachers so resistant to deep transformative change involving a substantial attitudinal and methodological shift. And not just curriculum content and surface methodological change.
Real change is not easy or painless. If it was, would it be worth doing? The current banking system of education (Paulo Freire) suits particular people, including teachers.
They, like a lot of people in positions of 'prestige' and influence, have benefited from it as Leaving Certificate points are cashed-in to gain access to sought after third-level courses, etc.
The current second-level assessment system is predictable as it involves a substantial amount of rote learning on behalf of pupils; granted somewhat sophisticated rote learning when it comes to the Leaving Certificate.
It suits people who are good rote learners. Aids to such rote learning can be purchased via extra tuition, grinds etc.
It limits, if not subverts, real meritocracy. (Does it also facilitate unofficial educational apartheid, where some schools are populated by pupils of a particular social class background?)
Such an education system limits critical thinking, higher order and transformative learning, creativity and innovation.
It also helps to keep a ceiling on teachers' workload as rote-type learning facilitates whole class teaching and external assessment rather than individual teaching and assessment that does not lend itself readily to external assessment.
It also helps to maintain the status quo.
Would turkeys vote for Christmas?
Athlone, Co Westmeath
Gavin's men brought home here
On a recent Friday night in Chicago, Dublin Football manager Jim Gavin and several players from the Dublin 2015 All Ireland team brought the Sam Maguire to a packed house of Irish-American fans.
For those who live in Ireland it is all too easy to take for granted the unparalleled passion in games of hurling and football and perhaps even easier to devalue the accessibility of players and officials.
For those born in the US of Irish parents, there are an uncountable number of things about Ireland that make us proud, but nothing surpasses the games of Ireland and especially those who play them.
So, it will come as no surprise that manager Gavin and the players in attendance not only spent a huge amount of time talking to supporters and posing for pictures and making them and the kids present the centre of attention, but also paid particular attention to some who immigrated in the 60s and 70s and effortlessly made them feel connected to the games they cherish.
It was the best of Ireland, because for the GAA a night like this is nothing special.
Joe Duffy has some blame, too
Joe Duffy rightly gave Bank of Ireland a hard time last week.
He did go a bit too far on one aspect, however, referring to the financial crisis and the fact that we will be paying for the banks' behaviour for a long time.
Joe conveniently forgot that the banks were responsible for 50pc of the financial crisis.
The other 50pc of the problem was created by the mighty special pay awards for senior civil servants and senior staff like Joe in semi-state organisations.
Outgoing CEO of RTE Noel Curran rightly said last week that those levels of salary should never be paid again.
Glasnevin, Dublin 9
Irish Water's rebrand a waste
Irish Water's intentions to undergo a brand change and also install a new boss within months (Irish Independent, November 9) are exercises assured of more controversy than optimism in the new year.
'Pure Irish Water' is what will sell to the people in this part of the island.
It is extravagant, unnecessary and deceptive to pay another fortune to consultants creating a generic artificial brand name for what, by then, may be an over-treated processed product.
Usually the intention of 'fancy-dressing' a semi-state product or service with a nerd brand name is to make it more attractive for privatisation and to discreetly flog it off to some foreign conglomerate or nonentity, should the need arise.
A replacement CEO to Irish Water will surely wonder where his pricey abilities fit in with the €85m (€50m used) spend on consultants already in place.
It shouldn't be an insurmountable task, using their expertise and the experience of the local district and urban council engineers on permanent payroll throughout the country, to put a cogent and sustainable working plan in place. A new broom always sweeps cleaner!
Electric Ireland might be the ideal prototype to follow, where every customer is guaranteed an 'identical pure electricity at outlet'.
Thurles, Co Tipperary
Finally, peace in the poppy row
Yesterday was November 11th, a day that, here in Ireland, marks the end of our annual battle between the zealots on one side who preach to us the evils of wearing the poppy and those on the other side who berate us with equal zeal for not wearing the poppy. Now we can have 11 months of peace with out the battle of the jersey or the great offensive on the lapel.
Róisín ignores religious reality
Róisín O'Rourke's attempt to chastise Ian Doherty (Irish Independent, November 11) on religious instruction in our primary schools might have had a modicum of credibility had she not ironically claimed 'if there's no tolerance, then it's not really a progressive society'.
Considering the bishops of her Catholic church sought to sway their congregations against marriage equality by means of pastoral letters prior to the recent referendum, and with the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin calling the Yes result a "defeat for humanity", it would seem progress was made in society against the wishes of said religious instruction.
Is this really the kind of 'tolerance' we should be teaching? Thankfully, the electorate saw fit to embrace equality for all Irish citizens in spite of, and not because of, Catholic religious instruction.
Gary J. Byrne
IFSC, Dublin 1