I recently asked my daughter (Leaving Cert student) to show me her Irish prose/short stories – to say I was horrified was an understatement. The depressing tone was just insane. She has been very frustrated this past year telling me she is tired of learning off ‘stuff’ just to regurgitate it for an exam. This is not just in Irish.

    The world has changed so much over the past 10 years yet our curriculum has not. The recent changes made to the English exam this year are another example of no one caring! My Junior Cert daughter (yes 2 exam students in our house this year) came out of her pre-english exam really not understanding what it was all about. No one could finish the exam as it was not timed out correctly and the questions did not help our kids to open their imaginations and think for themselves.
    My 6th class daughter spends hours each week ‘learning off’ Irish essays (sometimes understanding what she is learning, sometimes not) and the pressure to regurgitate these essays on Fridays is ridiculous. What happened to learning vocabulary and putting together an essay using their minds.
    LEARN OFF AND REGURGITATE is the message I am seeing.
    I see many kids aged between 8-18 years of age, male and female and the common thread for many of them is that they are creative. This creativity can have its setbacks as our curriculum is not open to much creativity. Academia is the ‘in phrase’.

    I ask you…….
    What good is academia to the student who cannot communicate with others?
    What good is academia to the student who cannot speak up for himself?
    What good is academia to the student who is inherently unhappy in that world?
    What good is academia to the student who wonders why she is not fitting in as there is no balance between academia and creativity?

    We have to fight for change. Our kids are growing up with a constant influence in the form of technology.
    Recent workshops I held with a group of 6th year students (mixed school) showed me the need for a balance. Kids are crying out to be supported on how to live in this world happily, confidently and safely.
    Over 90% of these students said their biggest regret over the past 5 years was using their phone too much.
    It effected their studies, their relationships, their sports, their mindset and so much more, and not in a positive way. There are many positives to technology but unfortunately there are also many negatives.

    I am fully aware that schools find it very hard to fit anything else into the curriculum as it is. The good teachers are amazing and need to be reminded of the impact they have on each and every student they teach.
    School is the only place where we can reach all kids – of all backgrounds – with all types of parenting. To ensure our younger generation get the support they need we HAVE to seek change in the curriculum so it does include ‘self-development’, ‘communication skills’, ‘self-esteem building’ and so much more – if only to counteract what they are believing and seeing daily on social media.

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