So, we’re three days into online learning round two and suffice to say it’s not much easier than it was the first time.
As a sixth year student, my first three days have been full of asking the same question; “What’s going on?”, and getting the same answer; “We don’t know”.
At this critical point in our year, we have been forced into an extremely difficult position. With project deadlines and Oral dates fast approaching and the Mocks an ever looming presence over our shoulders we are left scratching our heads and wondering; what is going to happen?
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you. I’m not a principal, or a union representative or a government official. I’m a sixth year student asking for exactly the same thing as you; answers.
Zoomin’ for a Brusin’
Online school, I think we can agree, it’s not exactly ideal.
I’m in that small minority that quite enjoys working online at my own pace. However, with Mocks meant to be kicking off in early February having to slow down the pace to accommodate online learning is not helpful.
On a normal year, sixth years have the foot down at this point and are pushing to get as much of the course finished as possible. However, this year is nothing if not abnormal. We are already way behind schedule. Even with the changes brought to the exams which, if I’m honest left a lot to be desired, we are going to be cutting it very, very close. Not to mention that the level of online teaching differs from school to school.
Hearing stories of students across the country having all live classes to students not having any work set at all. Online school has made the system even more unequal, and the students who get left behind now are going to be forgotten when the exams roll around. What about those students? Who ensures that this pandemic doesn’t cost them their education? Who is helping them?
Now, I shouldn’t be indulging the “Will they? Won’t they?” social media frenzy over mocks. But, with one of the biggest Mock company’s in the country pulling their production of papers this week, it really does beg the question; are they going to happen?
You’d be hard pressed to find a student who was 100% ready for the mock with the course covered on a normal year. But this year? Forget about it!
It’s unknown at this stage when we’ll be making our grand return to the classroom and then to spend another two weeks sitting exams when we get back, it seems like we’re gambling away the little time we have left.
Although mocks are at the discretion of the individual schools, guidance as to whether or not it is going to be safe or even worth holding exams whenever we go back would be nice for students, teachers and parents alike.
Let’s Talk Practicality
Anywhere from 20% to 50% of many exam subjects is done before you even walk into the room. Orals, practicals and project work make up a huge chunk of the work done in the middle of sixth year. With students studying a range of subjects from Art and Technology to History and Politics to French and Irish, these extra parts of the exam are often the thing that push students over the line.
For those of you out there, who like me, are not particularly academic and are relying on your project or oral to help your grade you are probably panicking. The dates are coming up and it’s getting a little too close for comfort. If schools are “safe places” as we keep being told, there should be no issue sitting an examiner across from a student in a room for an oral or practical.
If I can see that, why haven’t we been given an answer yet? Why can no one make a decision? And when they do make a decision, can we be confident that they are going to stick to it? Unlike last year, or even last week.
We Need Clarity. Now
Contradiction and confusion go hand in hand. Confusion breeds chaos, and chaos can only be balanced by clarity. Clarity? Well, that brings confidence. Confidence in our teachers, our principals, our ministers and our government.
We are aren’t asking for perfection or a miracle or even something that would make the whole country happy. I don’t speak for the 61,000 Leaving Cert students but I think we would all agree that clarity and answers sooner rather than later would give us the confidence we all need to face into the tough days ahead.