Something to think about Ruairi Quinn (Part 3)

The final part of my letter to Ruairi Quinn…

Has there been any mention of learning here? Of children? Of humans? Basic human rights to respect and consideration.
This is a country we should not be following or looking to. In Ireland, we have a basis of trust, consideration and respect for teachers in Ireland. Perhaps, some of the media do not show this but parentsΒ  know it isn’t an easy job. Children learn from an holistic and child centred curriculum. They enjoy their time in primary school. They learn how to learn and they want to learn for the rest of their lives. That’s what schooling should be about.
I spoke briefly with a English teacher at the conference who had left her profession a few years ago and set up her own consultancy firm with the aim of helping and supporting teachers. I asked her about what stresses teachers were under and what she would advise to the Irish Education Minister to avoid going down the road the UK had gone.
She said that the Irish government should outline their long term vision for education. What does education want for our future citizens?
She then advised the Irish government to stick to this long term plan, not to be swayed by knee jerk reactions to issues.
They shouldΒ  avoid making reactionary policies and initiatives. They should outline their long term vision and then base the policies on them.
I agree with her. I watched a talk you gave to the Dail a few months ago. There happened to be a group of children visiting that day and you addressed them. I felt moved by your speech. This to me should be your vision. You spoke of real learning, critical thinking and collaboration as learning focus. You spoke of moving away from the awful points led focus on learning things off by heart and spewing them onto a page. You vowed to end this.
Your recent circular on literacy and numeracy could have the potential of beginning an awful descent into the hell the teachers and pupils in the UK are going through at present. You have asked that schools submit the standardised results to the DES. Why? You have mentioned disciplinary procedures and the role of the principal. But, why?
How do these circulars link with your long term vision for education?
What are your hopes for education for our country?
My hope is that it remains on aΒ  child centred education one not assessment obsessed one.
One in which principals can focus on a professional development and appraisal system for teachers that prides humans, trust and support and not mistrust, revenge and anger.
An education system that doe not look to following other countries hideous education systems.
An Ireland that can do something different, that can open up the debate on where we want to go as a nation. We could become the country other countries want to replicate throughout the world.
Finally, we need listen to the teachers. We want to a great job. We want the best for our students. We know that there is no money in this country but these hopes don’t cost money. They use imagination, human respect and discussion.
Are you willing to open up the discussion?
Thank you taking the time to read this letter. I look forward to your talk at the IPPN. Inspire us.

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