Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Leaving cannot be the be all and end all of college admissions

If it weren't so darned important, it would be easy to dismiss the Leaving Cert. The reason it's important is simply because it's the sole measure used to decide on a student's 'application' for college. Nothing else about the person matter, only the test scores from one three week period during June of their last year in school.

Nothing else matters.

Did they underachieve? Could she have done better with different teachers? Is there a potential scholar inside that girl who only did a middling Leaving Cert? Could he be a world beater as a geneticist but for his English & Irish scores? Was the fact that she was ill or he lost his mother during May a factor in their lower scores? Could they have done better?

None of that matters.

All that matters is that the student's Leaving Cert scores. It's well past time that was changed, but the Leaving Cert's a sacred cow.

Spread out the state exams over the last three years of school. Include other factors, including aptitude tests, in college entrance requirements. Encourage (compel?) students to make a case for their admission to a particular course. That might help weed out all those who choose courses just because they "got the points."

Scrap the points system - or at least lessen its importance - and we might actually get a better second level system and more devoted, more capable third level students studying for degrees that suit them rather than in programs for which their collective Leaving results direct them.

Monday, August 15, 2011

If Martin is best Fianna Fáil can do, they should fold up the tent now

Micheál Martin is a political lightweight, which was made all too obvious the past week. He's always been too keen to be seen as 'having his finger on the pulse' and this week he probably thought he was going to look really clever when he opted to ignore party stalwarts and try to hitch a ride on Gay Byrne's coattails.

Last Wednesday on Tonight With Vincent Browne, RTE's Derek Davis summed up why he thought Byrne wouldn't run. Everything Davis said made perfect sense. Davis said he didn't know Byrne that well, yet he was able to see that Gay Byrne was unlikely to run. How is it Micheál Martin didn't have the sense to put out feelers even to people like Davis, never mind those who know Byrne better, before he endorsed Gabyo?

My favorite part was that Martin had barely jumped onto the Byrne bandwagon before Byrne fired off his anti-EU broadside that proved that Martin had no idea who Gay Byrne, potential Presidential candidate, was. Right away Martin looked silly.

Three days later and Martin looks stupid. He backed a man whom he hadn't spoken to, whom he didn't know and in the process made it obvious that no one in his party was worthy of support. Even if a Fianna Fáil candidate were to emerge at this stage, why should the public support him/her if Micheál Martin considers him/her unworthy?

If this is the best they can do Fianna Fáil may as well call it a day right now.