Dr Eddie Murphy (right_ pictured wityh his colleagues the Operation Transformation experts
The Leaving cert results are out and increasingly I am worried about the ‘all or nothing’ importance it receives. It’s time to put this landmark event into perspective. I do question the leaving cert in preparing our youth for what our society in the next decades. The Leaving Cert rightly will be celebrated by many families and will set many down roads of opportunity, excitement and futures of great adventure. It will also set as much as 15-20% down pathways that;
· their parents wanted, but not them
· Courses that was determined by "points prestige' as opposed to ability and aptitude
· Students that don't have the necessary lifeskills to cope from the adjustment from the home environment to college environment.
Personally I think the media over-concentrate on the student with the straight A1s. There is too much hype about these students. The student whose natural ability in languages and not in maths who turns in a pass in maths is equally impressive., but alas not celebrated. We all hope that these students will get the points that they need and thankfully, many will. However the real fact is that some won’t get the required points for their chosen course’s.
I was an average student who got a less than average leaving Cert. Immaturity, basically too much messing, no real direction or goal and poor career advice all put into the mix didn't help. In fact this whole experience has given me a great interest in career advice. When I am asked by schools and parent councils to talk to leaving Cert students it's something that offers perspective and insight.
I am not a formal career advisor but as a psychologist who has sat through thousands of hours listening to people (medics, plumbers, bankers, entrepreneurs, nurses, many teachers, counsellors, web designers etc) talking about their working life I see careers from a different perspective. A reverse view as it were, figuring out the person, their aptitudes, dreams and life goals and identifying suitable careers rather than this amount of points gets you this course!
Emigration, followed by maturity and determination kicked in that I grasped second opportunities. It took me a lot longer to shake off negative beliefs about my ability such was the impact of the Irish Leaving Cert. Thankfully today that ghost is truly buried and I am happy to talk about it as It opens up an avenue of hope for many. Essentially you too can achieve your dream, it just means you might have to take the scenic route
Could we be learning better skills
I believe there is an overemphasis on the Irish Leaving Cert. It’s a one way street that supports ‘learn and churn’ and one that devalues other needed skills in our society.
No person is defined by their results. This exam does not test for integrity, respect, honesty, passion, humanity, caring, flexibility, critical thinking and problem solving, emotional intelligence, team working etc. The academic path is not the path for all. Around this time we need to reduce our over-indulgence in high point scoring and identify that there are many different paths for all.
Learn that Change is constant
Remember this society has changed, you will have more than 5 careers in your life! The biggest skill that a person can have is adaptability. Most companies would trade all the most skilled people in the world for those that are the most adaptability. Look at companies HR departments, EAP programs, unhappy employees etc its most to do with the companies desire to change and the employees instinct to try to keep things the same. Indeed I think the health service suffer from this, it try's to deliver 21st century health care based on systems that were set up in the 19th century.
The panic of not having a place in college – when all your other friends have, can be very lonely, but it can also be very dangerous. Make sure you think wisely about all the courses you are considering.
You might want to consider post leaving cert courses. PLC courses offer a mixture of practical work, academic work and work experience. A wide range of disciplines are covered including business, electronics engineering, computing, catering, sport and leisure, theatre and stage, performance art, art craft and design, equestrian studies, multi-media studies, journalism, tourism, marketing, childcare and community care, hairdressing and beauty care, applied science, and horticulture.
The key message again is that everybody's pathway in life is different. The scenic route will take you to places and affords friendships that will last a lifetime. Enjoy that journey as this leaving Cert will only be a bit part in the story of your life.
Got Questions about your results?
Did you achieve the points you require? What do you want to do next? The National Parents Council Post Primary, run a Helpline every year for Students, Parents and advisors. The HelpLine: 1800 265 165.