Some things I've learned....

(1) An Engineer can do with 10 cent what a fool can do with a Euro.

(2) "Puff" - unimportant; insignificant; unworthy of study by engineering students; waste of time

(3) It's better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you're stupid than to open it and prove them right!

(4) Blockwork people and concrete people can never work on the same site... Apparently they don't like each other....

(5) It's official; I'm fantastic!

Thursday 11 October 2007

Grinds My Gears!! - Issue 12

The results of the poll are in and the Leaving Cert takes the 1st place just ahead of a certain someone for the point of interest of this the latest issue of GMG.

Ah the Leaving Cert. The bane of secondary school boys and girls everywhere....unless you dropped out of course. Every civilised nation in the world has some form of 2nd level education exam, and by right they should have it, but there's several things about our hallowed Leaving Cert that pains and pisses off so many young people in Ireland.

Having gone through the whole process and now having sat an array of college exams, I can confirm what many teachers say and that is "YES, The Leaving Cert is most definitely the most stressful and painful examination experience you will ever face!"...for real.

Generally speaking the idea that you do 7 or 8 subjects and you're overall points is calculated from your top 6 is a good one, as is the idea that you earn points for which course you apply to go on, because we all know that the points system - whilst very challenging and stressful - is in fact the fairest way to allocate places. It's anonymous, represents you're academic ability and eliminates any nepotism or alteration of marks and results.

The problem however is that you have to do 7 or 8 subjects!! Take England for example. In the A-Levels, you study 4 subjects (for the equivalent of 5th year) and then drop 1 to mean you are examined in a grand total of 3 subjects in final year (though you may continue the 4th if you wish). Not only that, but to achieve an A Grade, you just need to pass the A Grade Paper! If you want a B, pass the B Grade Paper and so on. So the Highest score someone could get in the A Levels would be A-A-A-A.

The workload of 7 subjects is incredible, especially should you get to college and see that 6 subjects is far more managable. I could go into 8 subjects but really, you don't want to know what that's like!!!! Not only that, but the exam levels are unreal. There is NO comparison between higher and ordinary level in ANY regard. Yes the points of obtained represent this but it means that ordinary level is mostly opted for because it is the easy way out and students who are too lazy to make the effort at Higher Level just drop, not necessarily because they are genuinely finding it difficult, though that does actually happen. There are far too many courses which are concerned only on getting the points and not caring about how you obtained the points. Thankfully, I can say that Engineering DOES in fact require Higher Level Maths, why, because you need a good work ethic to be an engineer and higher level maths is a true test of work ethic.

There was a time when Ordinary Level was only allowed for students with an actual mental disability, and Higher Level was mandatory for everyone else.

Like I said, most courses don't care how you got the points, and I feel this is an unfair representation of someones ability. For example, if you want to do an Engineering course anywhere, you should (along with the 3 core subjects) have to do 4 of the following: Physics, Chemistry, Applied Maths, Technology, Tech Drawing or the self-entitled course Engineering.

Why? Because these are the essentials of Engineering and hence have you well prepared for whichever college course you undertake. Getting there by doing Home Ec, any of the Business subjects or History and Geography isn't a just method. I'm not saying that those subjects are easy under any regard but you get the idea. If you want to do arts then do History, Geography etc, there's no value in you doing one of the sciences!

The fact that we have 7 subjects also introduces another problem. It allows students to "lie back" on one of the subjects, i.e. not bother working at it. I've heard this too many times and on an equal number of times I've seen those same students face the realistation that one of the subjects they were "banking on" didn't go as planned, and so instead of having 6 really strong subjects with 1 left to the side, they are left with 5 subjects and 2 that look bad. And it could be worse, no one knows what way the papers will go on the day! How do we solve this problem, do we drop the maximum number of subjects to 6, thus allowing the students to focus directly on the task at hand and then also free up their timetable for more classes or more study periods? It would certainly reduce the workload, thus allowing more study time and less stress.

Speaking once more of stress, the actual exam days are a nightmare. Now I'm not talking about whether you've adequately prepared or not, I'm talking about the physical strain on both body and mind. 7 and a half hours of English (of all things) on Day 1 is too much. And it means that you spend more time preparing for English than you do for Maths and Irish on the following days. Thankfully the Minister has said that English will now be sat a month before the actual Leaving Cert exams, but what's the result of that? That teachers now have to finish the course earlier in preparation for that earlier exam!

All said and done, once you've finished you'll never have to experience the likes again, but serious change needs to be undertaken to reduce the temporary mental and physical damage this unloads onto people!

~The Damo

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