The shame. I wasn’t intending on waiting almost month to post again.. I guess it just happened due to the pace of my life for the past few weeks and, more recently, my wordpress account deciding to go on strike and deleting my posts every time I’ve tried to post them (this is my third time writing this one). Over the past few weeks I’ve worked as a sailing instructor, completed my instructor qualification, got my leaving cert results, spent two days in Kilkee, County Clare on a family holiday, got my eyebrows done in The Body Shop (post to come on that), gone to the wedding of one of my close friend’s sisters, gone out in a yacht to watch a sailing competition, gone to the cinema (Paper Towns is quite enjoyable) and spent the weekend preparing for my Debs, which is tomorrow. I’ve barely had time to breathe! I promise, regular updates from now on. I promise.
To start this post I’d just like to say I’m extremely happy with my Leaving Cert results, and I won’t actually be saying in this post how many points I got for reasons I explain below. I will, however, discuss some of the thoughts I have now that I’m finished with my second level education and emotions that I feel about the leaving cert as a whole.
Now that I’m finished with the whole thing, and got offered my first choice (thank god) I can’t help but think that the whole thing is just a bit anticlimatic. It matters now, and it seems like the biggest thing in every 18 year old’s life… But I can’t help but wonder if everything I’ve gone through, and been forced to sacrifice in the last year has been worth it.
By getting my first choice I feel like I’ve been at least given some reward for two solid years of hard work, but what about those who haven’t? The education system we have completely trivialises the efforts of those who have an off day, or maybe aren’t the strongest at sitting exams by forcing them to work under extreme pressure which does not simulate real life for years, and showing them that when they do work it might not get them anywhere if they get a hard paper or if things don’t go fully their way. It’s basically saying that our efforts don’t mean anything, and for students who’ve been hearing for the last six years that the leaving cert is the be all and end all, it’s hard to look past that and even decide on what’s next. I’m a firm believer that results don’t actually have any impact on our lives and our happiness, even though at the moment they seem like everything! If I, or any other student, want to travel a certain path enough there’s always another way – something we’re not told about enough in school!
Another aspect of the leaving cert which has really affected my life in the last few weeks is the gossip culture which has developed surrounding the Leaving Cert. I’ve been asked so many times in the last week “what did you get in the leaving cert”, mostly by family who genuinely care, but also by random people, friends of friends and people I barely know! My leaving cert results have absolutely no impact on their life, and I feel that they have no reason to ask other than to compare my result in this pointless memory test to the next person’s to the girl on the paper with 8 A1s. Last week when I was in the dentist’s I was asked by the secretary how I did and when I said “I’m happy, I was offered my first choice” she blatantly asked again “how many points did you get.” I had no way out. I just feel that the need for every person who I’ve ever met in my life to know my points is completely unnecessary.
Intelligence is said to exist in eight types, and something that has really struck me about the leaving cert is that it only measures one – intellect. It even fails to do this properly, and in reality is nothing more than a memory test which teaches us to rote learn and spew information onto a page. People who have intrapersonal intelligence, or visual-spatial intelligence are measured on a scale that shouldn’t even apply to them! This, to me, stands out as a huge flaw in our education system which badly needs attention. Open book tests, required analysis, more options of subjects or modules and more practical elements are solutions which spring to mind immediately, but there are so many out there so why aren’t they being implemented?
The biggest emotion I’m feeling coming away from all of this is frustration. Frustration that right now, no matter what people say, I’m being defined by a number. Frustration that we have a system that causes people extreme mental illness and has negative physical effects on students. Frustration that I had to put my life on hold and sacrifice hobbies, friends and fitness for one result. I gave up so much for sixth year, and I went through hell for the result I got. March, the time of the orals and the pres, was the worst month of my life. For this reason, while I’m proud of how I did in the end, I don’t want to be associated with or defined by something that put me under so much stress, caused me so much anxiety and was such a traumatic experience to go through. There are other things in my life that haven’t caused me the same pain, that I’ve been successful at that I’d much rather people asked about. Blogger, sailor, Irish dancer, friend, musician, reader, tea lover – I’m defined by all of these and so much more, but I’m not simply another statistic who did well in a standardised memory test. I’m not defined by my result, and no one else should feel that they have to be either, whether it’s good or bad.
I’ve rambled on about my thoughts for quite a while now – I don’t even know if my opinions fully make sense to anyone else! Leave comments if you agree or disagree with anything I said, or if you’ve experienced anything similar – I’d genuinely love to see what others think about all this. Also, I might do some posts in the future with exam advice on single subjects that I did well in, motivation or even coping mentally with the exam stress, if people would want to read them. If you have questions about anything to do with the leaving cert also feel free to comment or pop me a message and I’d be happy to help!