A bonus for mathematics students
Sir, – Along with Dr Jim Gleeson and Prof Ciaran Sugrue (August 15th), I despair at the current philosophical trends driving decisions in education. In practical terms we are saying that students who have a leaning towards art; music; design and communications technology; French; home economics; chemistry; English or any of the other subjects on offer in the second-level system are less intelligent and less worthy than those young people who happen to have an aptitude in maths.
This has not been my experience over many years as a guidance counsellor.
Further, by pushing students towards any single subject by rewarding it more than another we also steer them away from pursuing their individual strengths and talents. Before any young person who is not studying honours maths even darkens their school door they are disadvantaged by 25 points.
When will those in power understand that while accountability and good value are by necessity a priority, economic interests have no business dictating educational policy. My despair deepens when the Minister for Education says he intends to introduce the honours maths requirement for primary school teaching without (at a minimum) clarifying that a usual lead-in period would apply.
It simply makes no sense to institutionalise further inequalities in a system that is already fraught with stress and strain. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I am the mother of a son whose intellectual strengths are in languages, and who toiled with higher level maths until March of this year when his mock results prompted him to “drop” to pass.
For those of us listening to students receiving Leaving Certificate results last Wednesday, it quickly became apparent that there are now two ways of relating results: “I got xxx” or “I got xxx counting higher level maths” (the latter sounding like a proclamation of great importance).
However, the inevitable outcome of artificially inflating one subject over all others is skewing and distortion, creating an imbalance which will be problematic in determining the threshold for offering third level course places.
My son would have secured his first choice with a comfortable margin of 15 points based on last year’s results. If he is not offered his first choice on Monday, could the State Examinations Commission be held liable for discrimination on the basis that in its examination of all subjects on the Leaving Certificate syllabus, there is an allocation of bonus points to one which unfairly advantages those with mathematical aptitude? – Yours, etc,