Sitting here in the pouring Sunday rain I cannot help but contemplate the 'good news' week gone by and be still embraced by all it's positivity.
There were lots of little things like good weather, some ideas and projects coming to fruition, a book launch attendance and of course there was the Junior Certificate results last Wednesday; pre-empted as they were by some mama-nerves!
I needn't have worried though, my boy put in the work and was as happy as we were proud of his achievements. I didn't share his actual very good results as I am uncomfortable about doing so.
It was however a joy to read the good news stories from other parents on social media too; mainly on Facebook. I was particularly taken by the proud updates from parents of children with special learning difficulties. These relate to children that may have diagnoses of ASD, Aspergers or Dyslexia etc. Some were able to sit all papers and some were not but all, within the realms of our education system as it is, reached their own personal potential; be that 8 honours or 2 passes, or anywhere in between. All results were to be celebrated.
I thought about all these children, and of the young adults who got their Leaving Certificate results back in August, and wondered about the pressure the education system puts on them and how beneficial that actually is to all.
Coincidentally, on the same day that my son was getting his results I was looking through old boxes for something in particular when I came across my own school results from the same examinations, all those years ago. I won't tell you how long ago that was but suffice it to say it was so long ago that the Junior Certificate was known as the Intermediate Certificate!
I didn't do too badly back in those ancient days but my son did better than I on his Junior Certificate equivalent! And I wondered about that, as I often do......
Now I hate to sound ancient and all but, you see, back in my day 'honours' results were not the norm. We did of course work towards them but getting 8 or 10 As (or even 8 or 10 honours) really was not the norm. Nor was going to college or university. That was reserved for those families who could afford it. It was also a generational thing. Most of our parents finished school after the Intermediate Certificate i.e. at age 14, if they attended secondary school at all, and went out into the work place. Some parents wanted their children out working as soon as they could, as that was their norm. Most of us sat our Leaving Certificates at age 17, some were only 16.
Imagine..... out working by age 17. Hard to envisage these days, isn't it?
There is almost an acceptance with this generation, and the one before it, that attending college/university is a foregone conclusion.
Granted with the unemployment situation being as it has been in recent years it's probably just as well that students stay in education. But are we really a better educated people these days with honours results and a college degree being the norm? How many students actually work in the industry their college degree prepares them for? Is today's college degree 'yesterday's' Leaving Certificate?
I think it's wonderful that there are more accessing college and university places these days yet I cannot help but wonder: Is this the only way that we can help all of our children reach their true potential and to work in the industry they wish to?
I think this system leaves some talented and perhaps less-academic students behind, and you would have to question why a degree is necessary at all for some jobs.
With that in mind I do welcome the introduction of Solas : a further education and training authority in Ireland two years ago. I have no idea how successful this authority that amalgamated the VEC schools and Fás Training centres is but it is good to know that it and organisations such as Youthreach exists.
As time has passed and the emphasis changed to getting a college degree before entering the workplace I think we've forgotten that, in some instances, learning-on-the-job is the best 'qualification' anyone can get. And in this regard I say bring back apprenticeships, which may suit some very talented and less academic students that may otherwise be left behind. I mean if it 's possible to learn 'on-the-job' and get paid, whilst also attending night classes if necessary, then why not? Although be warned, mentioning this to one of today's cossetted youths may be met with: 'but, when would I sleep'?!
That said we all want the best for our children and I will of course encourage my child to attend college, if that is what he wishes, but I will also research other potential suitable options.