Fight! Fight! Irish teachers are apoplectic, but less so than some of their pupils.
A statement from the Teachers’ Union of Ireland released today indicates that a breakthrough may have been made in the dispute concerning proposed changes of grading procedure within the Irish education system.
Union representatives have said that a majority of their members would be happy to personally assess any student in their charge at Junior Certificate level, as long as the ones they were frightened of could be done by somebody else.
Art and Home Economics teacher at Our Lady’s School in Wicklow, Stephen Galvin, argued that until now, the recommended adjustments to the current curriculum seemed driven more by their long-term cost-saving potential, rather than by their ability to guarantee his immediate personal physical safety, or that of his colleagues.
You down the back
“Mairéad Lynch, say, has kind of demonic tendencies, I suppose would be one way of putting it. Most of us try to stay well under her radar unless she’s actually breaking the law. Believe me, the last thing any teacher anywhere wants is her banging on their door wanting to know why she got an F in English.”
“So if somebody somewhere has to be ultimately answerable for delivering her that kind of news, it’s probably best that Mairéad doesn’t know where that person lives.”
“I think anonymous marking is a good way to ensure she doesn’t have a specific focus for the inevitable violent rage”, he said.
Homework on the bus
The planned 24-month period of internal, continual-assessment marking, combined with written examinations at the end of the second year (likewise marked by the students’ teachers) stands in stark contrast to the current system whereby students each receive an anonymous personal exam number and have their papers marked by an unidentified teacher from a different school.
Christine Twomey, vice-principal at St. Iseult’s in Cork is one of over 25,000 teachers out on today’s picket in protest at the planned measures.
“By and large I like my job, and we have mostly good kids. Like, Patrick Guidon would take his D in French on the chin and keep going, I think.”
An bhfuil cead agam
“Honestly, though? If Martin Purcell knows I’m the one directly responsible for failing him in Maths, my life’s not going to be worth living. I know he’s only 14, but he really has quite a temper on him, as local members of the Gardaí Síochána could probably confirm.”
“And he totally would fail”, she said.
IBEC’s education spokesman Tony Donohue had earlier been questioned on the proposals, and quoted as saying that “the new curriculum could equip (students) with the skills and appetite for continuous learning that will help them to fulfil their potential as workers and citizens.”
But Peter Murphy, who teaches Geography, History and Irish at Ardscoil Chiaráin in Co. Sligo, was reluctant to wholeheartedly concur.
“I’d be wary of accepting wholesale changes in the Junior Cert grading system based on what some policy wonk who probably hasn’t even ever met Richard Quinn thinks. Or Chitundu Akintola. Or Evgeni Todorov.”
“Evgeni certainly would not be happy with D’s or lower in my subjects. Not because he’s gunning for straight A’s or anything. It’s just… let’s say he’s a prickly kind of a fellow. It’s hard to explain to somebody who hasn’t seen him in action.”
Murphy also expressed doubt whether Quinn and Akintola both genuinely wished to eventually take Actuarial Studies at third level.
“The two of them were asking me last week about what you needed the most Leaving points for, but they had probably gotten wind of the reason behind the school being shut today. So I’m pretty sure it was just some kind of thinly veiled threat.”
“But I’m not that worried. Because I promise you, I’m not marking them”, he explained.
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