Tag Archive: Education


Math

Dear Saul,

Are you any good with geometry? I hope to god you are, I’m gonna need a bit of help. It’s strange, the way life can give you a second chance or two.  It’s even stranger that those second chances can be a little… intimidating. Sure, you’d like a second shot, you wanna get back in the ring, throw at least one more punch. Then the weight of the task at hand can be a little bit of a reality shock. Things might be a little more jarring, a little bit bigger than anticipated, and honestly, it’s okay to feel a little intimidated at first, I’m sure most people would, and I’m no exception.  For instance, lemme give you a little backstory to my school.

I am, currently, shit at maths. Or math, however you wanna pronounce it. I somehow believed in second year that I could handle higher level math pretty well, and… well… the big fat ‘D’ on my Junior Certificate exam speaks volumes as to how that turned out.  So I took a year off, did something called Transition Year, which kinda was a non-exam year meant to prep you for the next major exam, the big one, the one that would decide whether colleges and universities would except you as a paragon of society, a useful, productive human (that’s what it sounds like to me, at least). The Leaving Certificate. I kinda forgot about my troubles in math, until nearing end of the year, I began to wonder if I would remain in higher, or drop down to ordinary, also called lower level.

Welp, I believe I’ve either dodged a bullet, or jumped in front of one, because, on my very first day of fifth year in secondary school (think second last year of high school), I’ve been put into higher level math. Because a second chance can be, and is, a bitch.

This, naturally, filled me with doubt. At this point, my drive to succeed in maths was pretty much gone, I needed to focus on the subjects I could actually pass. This sounds ridiculous, but higher maths at Leaving Cert level is hard. Really hard. And I barely made it past higher maths in third year. Naturally, I was worried, especially given that the new teacher I had was one I had never interacted with, never met in the corridors, and one I might not have felt comfortable being taught by.

This teacher, as it turns out, found me my drive. By inadvertently calling me dead weight.

After being sorted into our classes, each teacher gave their own prep talk for what they would do for the exam. Mine, as it turns out, had the same effect as a Drill Sergeant. That is to say, I’ll learn, whether I hate them or not. But a few of the remarks they made kinda stuck in my head, one of them being ‘I’m looking at the class now, and I can tell you now, there’s some dead weight here’, as well as ‘I can guarantee, by Monday, not all of you will still be in this class’.

Hmm

‘Okay, well, in the first period I’ve had her, she’s referred to the slackers and, looking at my own difficulty in maths, what I can only guess, me, as dead weight holding back others from learning, and she’s hinted at the class being cut down.

Well, it’s on now.’

This was pretty much, as silly as it is, my thought process. I mean, them telling me I should go down to lower is fine, but being kicked out when I’ve already, against the odds, made it into higher? Nuh-uh, nope, no way, it’s on like Donkey Kong, now.

I guess, at that point, something just snapped, a good snap, but a snap nonetheless. At this point, it was no longer about studying for an exam, it was no longer about points, and it was no longer about being dead weight. Now, it was about proof. Proof to myself that I can and will pass, and not just pass, but succeed. I needed to prove to myself that I could beat maths. No more laying back, no more worrying about exams, at this point, the only thing that mattered in maths, was the fact that I would beat it.

And for that, I thank you, drill sergeant maths teacher.  You helped me find my drive. Before this, I was apathetic, I didn’t know how it would go for me, and frankly, I didn’t care. Now, I’ve begun to realise what I’ve missed out on, what I could have done, and dammit I’m pissed. Now, I have a goal, a reason to do something about this. I’m not doing it for exams anymore. I;m doing it for me. Because I’m sure as hell not letting numbers on a page beat me anymore.

The buck, as they say, stops here.

Best wishes, and wish me luck,

Fiachra

 

 

 

Day 13, Monday: Issue a public apology.

As a mini apology, sorry to Brook for not understanding Adobe Products even after using them 😉

Dear School(s),

I’m talking about you. I know you don’t like me doing so, but I’ll make sure not to mention any names.

I’m in transition year now, the mystical ‘fourth year’ of secondary school that many schools choose to skip. But you didn’t, so hear I am, writing a blog because I’m able to due to the relaxation of finishing every project that I’ve been handed. It’s given me some time to think about how the current school system works.

So I’ve decided to make my apology this: I’m sorry for not thinking outside of the box, even though I’m not supposed to, and I’m sorry I can’t help

Yep, even I didn’t fully understand that sentence.

What I mean to say is, although you very bravely put on a smile and tell your students to think autonomously and have a mindful independent thought process (I’ve had a whole discussion with teachers on questioning the ‘system’ in T.Y!), you can’t really allow us to do that, and as students, we kinda already know this. Because right after transition year comes fifth year, start of the senior cycle, and the exam years. If we think autonomously, then we’ll never be able to learn what the book tells us to learn!

I’m being a little harsh, but let’s face it: you are, for all intents and purposes, a business. You have workers who either want to do well and really help, or who just do it for the money. You’ll want good results come exam year because, well, who wouldn’t? It makes your establishment look good. What’s bad for a business however, is that one person who Just refuses to follow the others. Someone who takes the ‘outside the box’ part too far. These are the people who really don’t think exams have any teaching value. They may be so apathetic that they pass with minimal scores, which won’t help your image one bit. The lesson you know have to teach here ‘We say you should think for yourselves, and what they tell you’. Again, bit harsh, but here’s the kicker: It’s not your fault. You are being forced into giving us these exams. You are forced to pull us into this exam mindset that takes over every aspect of our minds for a year and a half. You are forced to watch as we go out into our new careers with this mindset still with us. It’s a rubbish system, but neither of us can do much.

So, from the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry we’ve been forced into this situation by the education system. Sorry I couldn’t do more about it. Sorry you can’t do more about it.
-Fiachra



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