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We should picket schools, as it's time for us parents to stand up to teachers

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Secondary school teachers will strike on December 2 and again in January

Secondary school teachers will strike on December 2 and again in January

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn

Secondary school teachers will strike on December 2 and again in January

It's my job to educate my children. That's what our Constitution says.

And the opinion of this "primary educator" of two secondary school kids is...scrap it.

I've watched one child who is fluent in Irish from Gaelscoil cramming someone else's Irish essay into his head so he can get "full marks".

I don't want to watch another one do the same.

I'm not alone. Down the country last week I met a parent whose child, also fluent in Irish, got 0pc for a school essay in the run-up to the Junior Cert.

The reason? "She wrote her own essay, not the essay I learned her."

I have met dozens of other parents who are screaming mad about what the Junior Certificate has done to their kids.

Kids who might change the world if only we gave them the tools.

Those tools include the short courses in everything from basket weaving to learning Chinese, as Education Minister Ruairi Quinn (below) recently suggested.

They include working in teams to think up and implement projects.

The best thing about school-based assessment is you can tailor part of the course to the place the school is in.

In Castletownbere you can do fishing. In Balbriggan you can do market gardening.

The best thing about it for teachers is they can teach from who they really are rather than what the Department has made them.

But what the teachers want most, it seems, is to be the teacher who got the great Junior Certs.

valued

They've been taught to value what they do in terms of As and Bs and Cs, because they are successful products of a system which valued them, in their day, in terms of As and Bs and Cs.

They keep on saying that they don't want the pressure of meeting parents in a small village who'll tackle them for giving little Johnny a bad mark in his school-based assessment.

Well I'd like to tell them something: it's not about them. It's not even about little Johnny's parents. It's about little Johnny himself.

It's about giving little Johnny a chance of thinking outside the box.

If enough little Johnnies and little Marys think outside the box, this country will have a much brighter future.

If we continue to run our education system so that teachers can get the great Junior Certs and not cringe when they run into little Johnny's parents in the village, well then we might as well just shut up shop.

Or take out the bits in the Constitution about parents being their children's educators and children having a right to education and just say that in this country education belongs to teachers.

mad

I worked briefly as a teacher myself. I have a lot of time for teachers. I think teaching is probably the most important profession there is.

But I am hopping mad about the secondary teachers' plan to strike on December 2 and again in January because they don't want to assess even 40pc of their pupils' work in their third year.

Ruairi Quinn's bold plan to have them assess all their pupils' work has gone by the wayside.

We're only left with a bit of it, a mere 40pc, with 60pc of marks coming from the Junior Cert exam.

And they're still not happy. They're still planning to strike.

As if it were entirely up to them how our children are educated. And nothing to do the parents.

Are we parents going to sit and do nothing? Can we get together with the National Parents' Council and organise our own pickets?

Can we go on strike to assert our rights as the primary educators of our children? Or will we sit on our hands and let the system triumph over our kids?


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