The Leaving Cert killed my creativity // Why the Irish education system has to change

The Leaving Certificate was the worst thing that ever happened to me. I got my real, official certificate in the post a couple of weeks ago, and I have felt more emotions over letters from Specsavers. 

I always felt intellectually numbed in school, since I was little. My brain works very differently from most peoples. I think differently. In a different system, I would have flourished. In the irish school system I shrivelled up. 

I was lucky. I had some incredible teachers who made the days of boring, watered down learning somewhat stimulating. Why was I required to spend hours learning things off by heart which I had no interest in and actively disliked? Why did some person in an office somewhere, decided what I could and couldn’t learn, and what defined me learning it? 

I am a massive nerd. I wrote Law essays in my spare time for fun. I was probably one of the only people my age who’s idea of a fun couple of hours was listening to classical chamber music, or researching the union of german states. If I had been left to specialise in these subjects, I would have excelled. I would have enjoyed ever minute of school. Apart from the sanctuary of my History, English, Art and Singing lessons, I spent the rest of a decent chunk of my early life watching clocks count down to the end of the day. 

I am not the only one who despised school. Unless you fit into the average, you struggle with the educational system because it has been conveniently tailored to those who are average, without regard for the rest of us. Look at project maths. Look at the changes in the science course over the years. They actively encourage people to be medicorcre by not offering an academically challenging course, or catering for people who are not academically minded. The have a box that they place you in, and if you don’t fit, if you happen to care that the science you are teaching to junior certs in wrong and will have to be relearned if you want to continue chemistry for leaving cert, then tough luck. 

The drop out rate for college in Ireland is 52%. Most people don’t consider it a sign of an educational system that its failing, but many people choose courses on the points they think they will get, not what they really want to do. Or courses they think sound good. or realise, that while the gold standard for education around the world is to equip people with the ability to learn, they have only been taught to memorise. Instead of helping people find their passions, to think critically for themselves we make them feel like they don’t fit in, we follow an educational model that hails from the victorian era, and hope for the best they manage to undue the damage it has inflicted when they get to college. 

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