The Irish state exams – The Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate – start in the morning. It’s always a big talking point in Ireland, almost everyone has a friend, relative or neighbour that is going through these exams and they are sensationalised in the press every year.
The only thing more sensationalised than the exams themselves are the results. The Leaving Certificate results, which are escorted by college and university placements, and are the culmination of 6 years of high-school education.
An out-of-date education system that was designed for the industrial revolution – we based our system on the British one – has attracted critics in recent years, most notably from Sir Ken Robinson. If you haven’t seen his excellent Ted Talk, I suggest you do so as soon as possible.
Our education system is not designed for the creative industries, and those who want to pursue a creative career need to find a way to do it outside the normal system.
The three problems are the following:
Schools are rated on the number of students the get into the top universities, so there’s a bias toward guiding students to those colleges, even though it might not be in their best interest.
This happened to me, rather than the guidance counsellor taking my interests into account, my maths grades had deemed me to be an ideal person to study engineering at the top college in the country.
I have no interest in engineering.
The problem with the standardised testing system is that people feel compelled to attend certain universities in order to “make the most of their points”. So you get people who put down medicine, followed by law, followed by veterinary science. Those fields are miles apart.
I admit, I did this. I initially attended a university that I did not like, and took a course I had no interest in. At 18 years old, I had no idea what I wanted to do.
3. Lack Of Inclusion
This year, my youngest brother is sitting the Junior Certificate. He’s 15 and has dyslexia, so standardised tests are not designed for someone as awesome as him. He should just sit the awesome exam for super cool people, and just get a free pass into the cool people club.
The problem with standardised testing is that they ignore people like my brother, who will be graded on his ability to regurgitate a textbook, and others who have a similar disinterest in formal subjects. The artists, musicians, athletes, inventors, authors, entrepreneurs and other creative geniuses are overlooked because they don’t fit the mould of the obedient cubicle slave.
Actually, I may just skip college and stay home. It’ll save me the trouble of moving back in later.
Apprenticeships existed before the industrial revolution, before we started treating people like parts on an assembly line, and maybe it’s time they came back. Instead of spending 4 years learning things you’ll never need, spending time in the workplace alongside someone who can offer you support and mentorship, would be a much better indication of the sort of career that you are getting into.
Apprenticeships are currently associated with people who are ‘not smart enough’ to get into college, but maybe it’s the smart ones that are skipping college altogether. After all, the people who are in an apprenticeship often start their own businesses. This is in contrast to only 10% of business school graduates.
I’ll leave it to Daria to pass on probably the best piece of advice you’re ever going to get from a television show.