Reforming the Irish Leaving Certificate
One of the recurring themes of this blog since it began in 2008 has been the urgent need to reform Irish secondary education, and in particular the Leaving Certificate. It has been my contention that the Leaving Certificate uses outdated pedagogy, promotes intellectual conformity, discourages critical inquiry, undermines excellence in science awareness and numeracy, encourages inappropriate career choices and disrupts the earlier (or indeed all) stages of higher education.
One of the more heartening aspects of the education debate is that the inadequacy of the Leaving Certificate has become much more of a matter of consensus, now including also the views of the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn TD. In the meantime the President of Dublin City University, Professor Brian MacCraith, has highlighted some of the issues in a most interesting paper delivered at the MacGill Summer School on July 27. In this he argued that success in the Leaving Certificate owed more to ‘stamina’ than ‘intellect’, and did not deliver a ’rounded education’.
It is time to move from a debate on reform to quick and decisive action. Ireland’s ability to recover from the recession depends on this.