Topic of the Week: EDUCATION

In Ireland, education is a national obsession. Every day there’ll be at least one article in the papers about exams, grinds, points, college places or grants. Every year we hear about the Young Scientist exhibition, the Texaco art competition, the Concern debates and the All-Island school choir competition, as well as the many aspiring entrepreneurs who develop new products and often end up with international funding to develop their brand. Nonetheless, we also live in an era where our method of assessing students (the dreaded Leaving Cert) and method of selection for entry to third level (the points system) is brutal. The pressure on students is immense and the recession only raises the stakes as we all begin to feel that qualifications are the only way to get out & stay out of the dole queue. Add into the mix the fact that multi-national corporations are starting to question the emphasis on rote learning in our system (a system which produces graduates (supposedly) incapable of thinking critically or creatively) and we suddenly realise this is not exactly the recipe we need to lift ourselves out of the doom or to create the ‘smart economy’ of the future that would make Ireland the place to do business. So what is it like to go to school in Ireland now? And what changes do we need to make to transform our schools so that they become the global model for success?

Sample Questions:

2009

Write an article (serious and/or light-hearted) for a school magazine about your experience of education over the last number of years.

2007

Imagine you are running for the position of Student Council President in your school. Compose an informative election leaflet encouraging students to vote for you. It should outline your own leadership qualities and the changes you would like to introduce into your school.

2004

You have been asked to give a short talk to a group of students who are about to start first year in your school. Write out the text of the talk you would give.

2003

You have been asked by the school principal to give a talk to your class group on the importance in life of “understanding the system”. Write out the talk you would give.

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