33 questions on the Travers proposals

This document was meant to be confidential. Members of the ASTI Standing Committee and the TUI Executive got copies on Thursday evening, the 12th of February with ‘Confidential’ plastered across the first page but when we arrived in the Gresham Hotel to meet on the 13th, the document was online in a national newspaper. I have no problem sharing it here in those circumstances except I’ve annotated it for clarity. I’ve included my own view on ‘the way forward’ on the final page.

Junior Cycle Reform – a Way Forward (Annotated)

Fintan O’Mahony
ASTI Standing Committee Region 8
email: natnif2@yahoo.ie
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4 thoughts on “33 questions on the Travers proposals

  1. Fintan, many thanks to you for doing his. I had intended on doing the same myself but I seem to have lost heart, it’s happened a lot of late
    In any event, just some thoughts of my own for the record.
    I was going to begin with the words of the ubiquitous Christian Gray, ” I need you to be honest with me” (Dr. Travers), because this document is indeed Fifty Shades of Grey, bland, banal and basic but given my career choice let’s instead go with Yeats, ” In dreams begins responsibility”. And so I begin…
    We have a responsibility and a duty to our students to fight and defend their right to a decent education. Why would/should we support change for the sake of change. It angers me that reform which should be beneficial is detrimental to all stakeholders. Let me explain, I have two school going daughters. My eldest is currently in 3rd year and has just completed her mocks. She doesn’t understand the concept of a ” low stakes exam”, nor do I want her to and here’s why. She can wax lyrical about Romeo and Juliet and quote at will, she ” gets ” poetic terminology and can apply it, but most importantly she reads, no I lie she devours books. As a result of this she writes she is creative, innovative and spontaneous in her writing. She is not a product of the system she is just herself, one of those rare children who loves to read. My younger daughter is quite the opposite she detests reading but is equally creative when it comes to art and as for her ICT skills she embarrasses me with her aptitude. Yet I worry for her and this new course, in my opinion as both a teacher and mother she will miss out on so much. Yes, she’ll read lots but will that make her love literature, I doubt it? More importantly I think she’ll become a product of the course, a drone who lacks self belief. Why, because we’ll have taught her that to be “good”, she needs to draft, edit, redraft? Where’s the acknowledgement of the immediate, the stream of consciousness, the self awareness? Maybe I’m wrong, but realistically where’s the point of two assessment components that don’t count toward the exam anyway? I sound like a teenager myself now but we all know the way they think!
    As for the Oral Component, can someone please let everyone in Ireland know this is not continuous assessment, ( remember I really want this, just not in it’s current form). This is a ” terminal exam” in every sense of the word. Three weeks to prepare then three minutes to ” perform ” while your peers watch on in terror as they await their turn, or in boredom as they’ve already completed their showpiece.
    Finally what about me and English teachers everywhere, alone in the wilderness cast aside forgotten. We are ASSESSING next year. Words fail me, even if they blitz us with CPD will it be sufficient, will it allay the fears? I doubt it, the poet Antonio Machado’s words spring to mind, “Pathwalker, there is no path, you must make the path as you walk”. Let’s make a clear and direct path that enables all of us to live our dreams and fulfill our responsibilities.

    1. Thanks Liz, the one thing I’ve been saying since this began is that anyone wanting continuous assessment should oppose this reform because with two in-school and one SEC exam, there would be three terminal exams. Add to that the never-mentioned standardised tests in second year and you have constant pressure to replace pressure once in three years.

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