independent

Wednesday 20 February 2019

Getting your Leaving Cert results is no private affair

What did the chicken say to the duck? 'Whatever you do, don't cross the road or you'll never hear the end of it!'

Having just experienced the media frenzy surrounding the recent leaving cert results, I now know how the chicken feels -I thought the coverage would never end.

In fairness, due attention was paid by broadcasters, "experts" and journalists as to how the Leaving Certificate should be kept in perspective. All were at pains to assure that poor results did not the measure of anyone make. They made convincing arguments about there always being choices and they remained steadfast in their belief that no-one should be defined by results; 'it is not the 'mark' you get that matters but the 'mark' you leave' ... and all that.

Yet on the day of reckoning, this staunch stand of media morality revealed itself to be resting on feet of clay. I guess the drama was just too powerful to defy and the voyeurism too potent to contest. So we were subjected to orchestrated scenes of students being captured 'breaking open the seal of their fate'.

Invariably these so called 'randomers' were all straight "A" students and even though they probably meant it when they said they couldn't believe how well they'd done, I was a little dubious about that myself what with them going on the national airwaves and all.

Yet my gripe is not with these high-achievers who deserve every accolade, my gripe is with a media that says one thing but does another; it's difficult to believe their rhetoric about internal significance when their actions are consumed with outward appearances.

And so it was en-route to pick-up a brown envelope that encased the sum total of my son's fourteen years of schooling that I turned off the radio and I turned off the phone; our own mini-media blackout. He and I free from the white noise of commentary, oratory and analysis were immersed in a strange silence with our only interruption being the click of the car indicator and the creak of the screen- wipers on a day with rain in the wind.

He said he wanted to open his results alone; that he did not want an audience. And it struck me that it wasn't so much the results he was dreading but the scrutiny of the public gallery. Whether Leaving Cert results day is the best or worst day in anyone's life, it is without doubt the most public one. Getting your results is no private affair.

Of course when he arrived back to the car, envelope in hand, he could wait no longer and he tore his fate open to list with a whoop the sum total of 14 years of schooling. And how did he do? Well I'll stick with the duck and not cross that road; be glad, otherwise you might never hear the end of it!

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