Problems with Junior Cycle reform


Sir, – I have been teaching science for 40 years, 17 of those in New South Wales, Australia.

At the time I was teaching there, a new progressive teaching style was very much in vogue. Science classes had to be “fun”. There were no exams.

Teachers were viewed more as facilitators rather than teachers. Students did projects, took part in science fairs, “learned” by inquiry, made presentations to their peers.

It was very similar to the present new Junior Cycle science methodologies that are being rolled out. It didn’t work.

Students knew very little at the end of the three years. Their understanding of scientific concepts was abysmal.

Returning to teach in Ireland was wonderful. A solid, substantial curriculum with fair and rigorous exams. Students understood basic scientific concepts at the end of their Junior Cert. There were well-trained teachers who could communicate their understanding and passion for science with their students.

It is with great dismay that I now am witness to the dismantling of this very good and solid curriculum and the importation of a very flawed new one.

Teachers are confused and frustrated and are drowning in a plethora of documentation and meaningless jargon.

Methodologies being pushed are time-wasting and ineffectual.

Experienced teachers are dismissed as being out of touch. Will anyone listen? – Yours, etc,