EducationExam reaction

Leaving Cert religion: a nuanced paper challenged students to think critically

‘It was an interesting paper - challenging in parts but doable, and with plenty of choice’

The Leaving Cert religion exam gave students suitable challenges and required them to think critically. Photograph: iStock

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Religious education teachers have welcomed a “nuanced” higher-level paper that gave students suitable challenges and required them to think critically.

Róisín Dignan, ASTI subject representative and a teacher at Haywood Community School in Laois, said students were happy with the paper.

“It was an interesting paper – challenging in parts but doable, and with plenty of choice,” she said. “It forced them to think.”

Paul McAndrew, a religious education teacher at the Institute of Education, said the paper was detail-oriented.

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“That will really compliment student knowledge, and the paper challenged students to be attentive to the nuances of the questions,” he said.

Both Ms Dignan and Mr McAndrew said that students were happy with the question on Socrates.

“It really dissects every bit of Socrates’ work and impact, covering his philosophical development as well as influence on Plato and Aristotle,” said Mr McAndrew.

“There were lots of aspects to explore – for texample, the moral good and essences – so any student who had spent the time going in depth on such a pivotal thinker will be very pleased with how much they could discuss.”

Ms Dignan said that question two, which asked students about “spiritual hunger in our times,” was topical and open-ended.

“Students could write about retreats, pilgrimages such as Croagh Patrick and the Camino de Santiago, meditations, and retreats,” she said.

Mr McAndrew said that question two allowed for contemporary reflection and application of concepts.

Both teachers said that section B, which looked at the origins of Christianity, contained familiar concepts and questions.

The final portion of the paper covered a wide range of topics from sacred texts, the Irish

experience of faith, religions relationship to science, and gender and religion.

“The latter is a popular topic as it has very similar questions every year,” said Mr McAndrew.

“This is due to being a comparatively small part of the course, but it contains lots of big ideas that challenge students. The questions were clear with some nice internal choice, so those who prepared could find something that suited them.”