Leaving Cert

Good to hear that the minister is moving on the predictability of the Leaving Cert Exam. I’ve been ranting about this for years – mainly in the kitchen to my wife. Students’ approach to learning is very much dictated by the nature of the exam itself. If a good mark requires rote learning, then that’s what they will do. That’s what any sensible person would do.
Rote learning has always been with us but it does appear as if it is much more of an ‘industry’ nowadays than it was in the eighties. A few years ago, I gave my nephew a grind in Chemistry and I was shocked at how the exact same questions (on chemical equilibrium in this case) were coming up year after year. My nephew could answer them even though he was more than a little hazy as to what he was doing.
The furore about an ‘unexpected’ question on this year’s honours maths paper was typical of how this mentality has seeped into the nation’s psyche, especially that of middle class parents.  Questions that are not entirely within a narrow range of predictability are deemed to be ‘unfair’.
It’ll be very interesting to see what the working group comes up with and I really hope this leads to a better exam.


About Greg Foley

A lecturer in Biotechnology in Dublin City University for more than 25 years. Trained as a Chemical Engineer in UCD (BE and PhD) and Cornell (MS). Does research on analysis and design of membrane filtration systems.
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