The Good News Week and Other Thoughts......

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'?!

It is a tough world for our children these days in some ways, such stresses and expectations to succeed so highly being heaped upon them.

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.


  1. I think apprenticeships and other routes directly into the workforce - night classes or day release programmes, will start becoming popular again as university becomes more and more expensive. Well done to your son on his good results. xxx

    1. @Midlife Singlemum: Yes, I agree. Fees are rising here in Ireland all the time. It is a pity that they were done away with really, isn't it?
      Thanks, he's delighted with himself :) xxx

  2. I left school at 16, most do in the UK. It's only the very bright who stay on to do A Levels.
    Both mine left school after Junior Cert. Jono because of his health/SNA problems. Lucy because she hated school and was becoming very withdrawn. Lucy went to a Community Training Centre and did Business Admin, she went on to do a PLC in it too which is equal to a Leaving Cert. So there are other ways around things.
    Well done to you boy :)

  3. @magnumlady: I'm sure lots more do the same, or similar, yet we rarely hear about them as the emphasis is on honours and college places. Congratulations to your Lucy, she has found her way and I hope that your Jono does too. There should be a way for everyone to find their adult voice and to let their talents shine through.
    Thank you :)

  4. A degree is not necessary for amny jobs as you state and I've already been talking to my kids about how it is OK if they want to go to Uni and that suits the kind of work they want to do but equally they don't have to. It is an active choice they will need to make once they grow into their own skill sets a bit more. Well done to you son. Mich x

    1. @Michelle Twin Mum: I totally agree, I just feel that the emphasis in the media and in schools is on going to college. I am saying similar to my son, although I don't want to influence him either way! His assumption in Primary school (age 11/12) was that he would go to college. I don't want think there should be any stigma, sense of under-achievement or disappointment if that's not the route any young person ends up going down
      Thanks Mich xx

  5. Although I was one of the lucky few who went to university in the early 1980s, I have always told my children that it is just one option for post school. But there is a lot of peer pressure out there now to go, it certainly affected my daughter, and my 14 year old son is already talking as though it is the only thing worth doing. Perhaps the media is partly at fault too with all the emphasis on results and CAO points. xx

    1. @Looking for Blue Sky: Yes, that's exactly it. peer pressure and media. And schools too aiming to increase their stats? In the league tables that don't properly exist in Ireland!

  6. A very good post, Jazzy. I was working at 17! University wasn't an option for me or my three sisters. We have all gone on do to well without degrees, however, salaries reflect this! We seriously need apprenticeships and training colleges here.Congratulations to your boy, great news. xx

    1. @Bright Side of Life: See, you all had productive lives! And yes, salaries do of course reflect that but it depends on what career your aiming for and your abilities.... be they academic and/or emotional, doesn't it? College is not for everyone. I guess we should encourage our children to reach their potential and to research all options? xx

  7. Education in this country does my head in. I recently picked up a gang of leaving certs and we were chatting. I asked one of them what he'd like to do and he answered that he was going to go to college to get a degree in mathematical science and wasn't sure yet about his Masters! Imagine and he's not even begun in college yet.
    I think kids can't imagine not going and measure success via points. I keep saying to my gang come to me when you are in your thirties and which ever one of you is content with your lot made the right choices, the others have yet to.
    Hopefully your son will enjoy transition year. I love it as it's a chance for them to grow and just be.

    1. @mythoughtsonapage: Yes, you're right....then comes the Masters! It's as even a degree is not enough these days, I deplore it really I do. Mostly for the kids who have brilliant ability, Especially in our IT/Technology industry which we're told is what our country needs most.

      I didn't want to say it in the body of my post but generally, not always, speaking children with Aspergers, ASD etc are usually excellent at this stuff but can't always apply themselves academically - focus enough for maximum study - and may not be able to attend college. Or will but their results won't show their true capabilities. Others on the spectrum of course will do brilliantly but our system doesn't allow them all to shine.

      I love your measuring system, be interesting to see how it all pans out...... xx


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