Posted tagged ‘conferring’

Graduating the teachers

November 7, 2008

On Friday morning I shall be presiding over the first of ten graduation ceremonies that will be taking place over just five days. I shall be shaking upwards of 2,000 hands and will be working further towards my claim for repetitive strain injury…

In fact, I am particularly fond of conferrings, as they are iconic moments in the life of a university community, where we celebrate achievement and, we hope, sow the seeds for a lifetime of continuing links between us and our graduates. The first four of the ceremonies this time are in St Patrick’s College, a teacher training college which is part of the DCU family. Many of the new graduates will become primary school teachers, and in that role they will have charge of the next generation of citizens; there can be few more important jobs.

But equally, the teaching profession, like most professions, is having to undertake a re-evaluation of what it does and how it does it, so that schools can meet the challenges likely to emerge in a multi-cultural Ireland that will now also face the problems and hardships of a recession. On the whole, our education system has changed very little over the past 100 years, while society has changed beyond all recognition. I never cease to be amazed at the dedication and hard work of the teachers I meet, but I do wonder whether the system that governs and manages our education sector is run by people who are ambitious enough for it, or consider sufficiently what our schools need to do to provide this country with the skills and aptitudes it needs.

I have no doubt, however, that the graduates of St Patrick’s College will be well equipped to support such a discussion and to make their own important contribution to the future welfare of Ireland.