The Irish Education System EXPLAINED – PKMX


Welcome to a very special challenge video.
I am your host, PKMX, and… you’re probably wondering what’s going on here. Well, after
nineteen years of being a dryballs and refusing to drink alcohol, I have decided that now
is a good time to start. I was recently introduced to this brand-new drinking game called “Down
your drink every time the SEC f-cks up”, and I just couldn’t resist! So I am going
to become a real man by completing this challenge. You know, what could possibly go wrong…? Well, as I recover from alcohol poisoning,
I should try to fill the next thirteen minutes with some kind of Leaving Cert content. You
might have watched that boring video essay about the SEC that I made in August last year,
and I’m really sorry if you did. I recently deleted that video from my channel because
it was just unwatchable, so I should probably replace it with something better. I have complained
about the Leaving Cert enough on this channel, so I think it’s time I take a more objective
approach. In this video, I will provide an overview of how the Irish education system
works, and we’re going to rewind back to its origins. The Irish government’s first efforts to
truly revolutionise our education system can be traced back to the 1960’s. Ah, the good
old days, when being left-handed meant that you were the Anti-Christ. This was a time
when child abuse, I mean, “Corporal Punishment” was completely acceptable in primary schools,
and the teachers were members of the Catholic Church, so of course they didn’t suffer
any consequences. Ireland was almost completely cancelled in the 50’s, but the 60’s was
a decade of significant social and cultural advancements – more people were questioning
and criticising the values of the Catholic Church, women were allowed to have human rights,
and young Irish people started to receive more educational opportunities than previous
generations. Ireland has an interesting track record with change and modernisation – it’s
an incredibly progressive nation on paper, but that progress usually happens a few decades
too late, and Ireland remains a completely backwards country. This was evident in the
1960’s, as the Irish government overhauled the education system so it was more fit for
purpose in the modern world – just imagine if they would do that today – but despite
this, the Catholic Church maintained their influence over Irish schools. It made perfect sense to trust the Catholic
Church with this responsibility though, because we all know that they have a great reputation
for taking care of children, right? If education is supposed to entail traumatising
children for life with physical and emotional abuse, then the Catholic Church gets a H1.
Irish schools were still controlled by nuns and Christian Brothers in the 60’s, but
the entire framework of education experienced some positive changes. The 50’s was a rough
time for education in Ireland, as ⅓ of Irish students were leaving their education after
completing primary school. It was clear that education needed to be more accessible, so
entry fees for second-level schools were abolished in 1967. Ever since this huge announcement,
education in Ireland has been 100% FREE! Woah, wait a minute. You’re saying that
people in Ireland go to school for free? Well, enrolling in school is completely free,
but you will have to pay extortionate amounts of money for uniforms, textbooks and copies,
“voluntary” school funds that aren’t voluntary at all… and you have to pay €116
to sit the Leaving Cert. Oh…. But if you have a medical card, the Leaving
Cert is free! Oh, well that’s fair! It makes it more affordable
for people with medic… But if you’re repeating sixth year, you’ll
have to fork over €301. Despite these huge expenses, Ireland is internationally
recognised for its excellent literacy rates, student progression to third-level, and its
high-quality education system in general. Under the current educational model, Irish
students receive compulsory education for up to fourteen years – this includes eight
years of primary school, and five or six years of secondary school. Children start their
first year of primary school, Junior Infants, at the age of four or five – yes, four or
five, not a reasonable age like six or seven, because we need to cram as much information
into their brains as humanly possible. They have to work their way up the ranks until
they reach their final year of secondary school at the age of seventeen or eighteen, when
they prepare to sit the Leaving Cert. At this point in their educational careers, they must
make significant decisions about their future, and they’re expected to act like adults,
while being treated like kids. Let’s say you want to go to the bathroom.
In Junior Infants, you have to put up your hand and ask “An bhfuil cead agam dul go
dtí an leithreas”. Whereas in Leaving Cert, you have to… put up your hand and ask “An
bhfuil cead agam dul go dtí an leithreas”. So you go to school for fourteen years, and
it’s all tested in two weeks of exams because that’s completely fair. These exams are
known as the “Leaving Cert”, but intellectuals like myself prefer to say “Leaving Certificate
examinations”. Students usually study seven exam subjects for the Leaving Cert, but only
six of those subjects are counted towards their final results. It would probably make
more sense to study four or five exam subjects so the workload wouldn’t become overwhelming,
but again, cram as much information into their brains as humanly possible. You see, there’s
a running theme here. We have this unique grading system which was introduced just a
few years ago, but nobody over the age of 21 seems to understand it. Leaving Cert and
Junior Cert subjects can be taken at Higher Level or Ordinary Level, but some cavemen
prefer to say “Honours” and “Pass”. Oh, and Foundation Level Maths also exists
if you’re content with receiving a maximum of twenty points in that subject and being
ineligible for almost every college course in the country. The difference in points achievable
between Higher Level and Ordinary Level subjects is pretty drastic, and this is reflected in
the difficulty of both levels. Ordinary Level English – write an essay about
a few poems which are provided on the exam paper. Higher Level English – learn thirty-six
poems off by heart. Ordinary Level Irish – write half a page about a timpiste. Higher Level
Irish – write four pages about how climate change and pollution are affecting the planet.
Also, learn the life stories of every poet on the course, and make sure you know their
birthdays and their blood type. Higher Level exams are far more difficult, of course, but
the content is the same for both levels. If you ask me, the problem with the Leaving Cert
isn’t the content in the curriculum. We study a lot of intriguing material – in English,
we study Shakespearean plays and The Great Gatsby and a hundred poems. In History we
learn about the Troubles and the Moon Landing, and in Irish, we study… I just can’t explain
that. The Irish language is on a huge decline, we
all know that. But why do so many Irish people dislike our national language? Ah, simple
answer. Because, in schools, the Irish language is taught like sh-t. You may argue that the
language is alive and well because it’s spoken regularly by almost 75,000 people,
but here’s a secret – that’s 1.5% of the population. Irish is supposed to be a fun
language that we appreciate as a vital part of our culture, but it’s almost impossible
to enjoy the language when we’re using sh-t like this to learn it. The general theme of
studied texts on the Leaving Cert Irish course is “misery”. If you ever want to feel
depressed from reading a work of fiction, then look no further. Let’s summarise the stories that you have
to study in Leaving Cert Irish. Cáca Milis – a blind man gets on a train to go on holiday.
He dies. An Gnáthrud – a loveable family man doesn’t like going to the pub, so he
goes home to see his family. He dies. He also got blood all over his chop suey – that’s
pretty cringe if you ask me. Dís – a married couple talk about a survey, but the husband
ignores his wife. That’s it, that’s everything that happens – we had to write about why that story is funny. When the Department of Education were figuring out how Irish should be taught in schools, I imagine the thought process was something like this. Hm, should students learn how to speak Irish in everyday conversation, and should we encourage them to appreciate
the language and have fun speaking it? Or should we force them to rote-learn multiple
essays, and vocabulary describing five poems, five stories and twenty picture stories, thereby
killing their interest in the language? The Irish syllabus has received a lot of criticism
for basically failing to teach our national language in an engaging way, and completely
sucking the fun out of learning it. The Leaving Cert in general is heavily criticised around
this time of year, to the point where it becomes an annual media circus and a huge topic of
national conversation, but everybody stops caring about it until August when it becomes
topical again. When you’re preparing for the Leaving Cert,
you are certainly going to hear some variation of these exact words at least a hundred times
– “The Leaving Cert is not a test of intelligence – it is just a memory test that rewards mindless
rote learning, and it does not encourage critical thinking. The points system is outdated and
isn’t fit for purpose in the modern world – I failed my Leaving Cert and I am now an
entrepreneur. Exam results do not define you, and no matter what you get, there will always
be a backdoor into anything you’d like to do”. Of course I agree with this argument,
but it is getting incredibly boring now, and it doesn’t highlight the real problem with
the Leaving Cert. The Leaving Cert is the climax of second-level
education, but I wouldn’t consider this education at all. It’s basically a national
contest between 55,000 students to obtain the most points and progress to the third
level. The Leaving Cert becomes less about educating students for life, and it turns
into this game of analysing past exam papers, predicting the topics that will come up, and
selecting the right chapters to study in order to achieve the highest number of points possible.
There’s no long-term objective beyond attaining points to get into college – we all lose sight
of what education actually is, and we simply don’t care about learning anything that
will benefit us once the Leaving Cert is over. With the structure of the education system
heavily revolving around exams and academic achievement, we all perceive the Leaving Cert
as nothing more than a pathway to third-level education. We spend two years memorising information
temporarily, which will be completely forgotten on results day when the objective of receiving
points has been achieved. Because of this attitude, everything we learn in the Senior
Cycle becomes redundant – even the SEC knows this, because your exam papers which epitomise
your two years of Leaving Cert study aren’t even sent back to you. The SEC destroys them.
Our education has no positive consequence for us in the real world, and we hit the reset
button when we move onto college or work. But why is the Leaving Cert so backwards and
unfit for purpose in the 21st Century? Why is so little effort being made to modernise
the entire system, and why has it remained almost the exact same for so many decades? Well, the Leaving Cert exams are designed
and distributed by an organisation known as the State Examination Commission, and they are really good at their job. That was a joke. The SEC is in charge of an entire exam system
that determines if a student can advance to third-level education, which is obviously
a huge responsibility that should be taken incredibly seriously. But they manage to f-ck
something up every single year and I am getting sick of this drinking game. A recent epidemic
is the shortage of Leaving Cert examiners. They have to take on an overwhelming workload
throughout the entire month of July for an unattractive wage, 58% of which is taxed,
so less teachers are willing to sign up for this role. This could have been addressed
and rectified back in 2017, but if there’s one thing the SEC is good at, it’s refusing
to acknowledge their own mistakes and not making any changes to how they operate – so
due to the SEC’s complete lack of self-awareness, the trend of urgently appealing for more examiners
continued in 2018 and 2019. Remember, you should never start studying
for the Leaving Cert at the last minute – but the SEC can start searching for examiners
at the last minute. Remember you can’t do your essay the night before it’s due – but
you are expected to write multiple essays for English, Irish, Art, History and Geography
in three-hour exams. Remember you should never plagiarise other people’s work – but the
SEC can take articles and change them without permission, and as you may have heard, that
worked out brilliantly this year. I have spent a lot of time sitting at this
desk complaining about the Leaving Cert in various videos, but I’m getting tired of
listening to the same criticisms in June and August every year. The biggest problem that
prevents any meaningful change is entirely our own fault. Whenever we are presented with
an opportunity to learn anything useful, everybody treats it like it’s some kind of joke. The
Leaving Cert is such a familiar rite of passage, it has been so engraved in our culture for
as long as we can remember, that the idea of education revolving around terminal exams
is completely standard. Everybody cries out for mental health classes,
which is actually part of the SPHE syllabus – but of course, SPHE is treated like a throwaway
subject, and it’s typically used as extra study time for the exam subjects. CSPE – Civic,
Social and Political Education, one of the most fundamentally useful subjects you can
possibly learn, is treated like a joke. We have this inherent obsession with exams and
rote-learning information, so we can’t comprehend the idea of education revolving around anything
else. In my now-deleted SEC video essay, I detailed my idea of an improved education
system. My suggested curriculum was divided into three sectors – Personal Development,
Job/Life Skills and General Education. I also proposed new subjects like Finance, Mental
Health and Wellbeing, and classes about consent and sexuality acceptance. However, a hypothetical system like this would
never work in this country. As a nation, we just do not have the mindset necessary for
a system like this to succeed, because non-exam subjects would be shoved to the side. Nobody
would take it seriously, because this country doesn’t know what education is. The Leaving
Cert will never change, and if it did, it would be destined for failure, because Ireland
can’t do anything without f-cking it up. Well, if you’re blessed with the luxury
of not living in Ireland, then I hope this video helped you to understand how education
works in this country. This video is marking the end of an era on my channel, because I’m
officially retiring from making videos about the Leaving Cert. Now that I’m feeling better
and I have this stupid Leaving Cert video done and dusted, I’m gonna try out this
drinking game again – I hate my liver anyway. Guess who just signed up for Alcoholics Anonymous!

18 thoughts on “The Irish Education System EXPLAINED – PKMX”

  1. Céad.
    But céad as in like first, not a counter for a hundred. Yknow yourself like anyway

  2. Great video. Unfortunately the SEC will never listen. Hopefully the stress will be over soon. Love the videos and enjoy the summer!

  3. Damn I remember that aoife Dooley stuff. Literally 5 minutes after the English exam ended people were generating memes about her on instagram

  4. If you can rote learn like me, the leaving cert is quite easy, if you cannot rote learn, well….have fun trying tbh

  5. Amazing video, I fucking wish the SEC would get their act together.

    The whole of Ireland: Reform and improve the Leaving Cert

    SEC: Lads, we've computerized exams now… You still have to do them on paper though, and you can't use any pencil or coloured biro. Also you have to precisely label ALL of your work.

    Fuckin' wreckheads…

  6. Great stuff haha, Phoenix PKMX Wright vs. the Leaving! Keep it coming, can't wait to see this channel expand! Looking forward to the eventual PKMX vs. CAO video haha!

  7. sorry to bother, but I have some questions. how many leaving cert examinations you have during the Second level education? because I see you have a junior cert in the third year, is it important as same as Leaving Cert examination of last year? whether the result of the junior cert will influence the students? thanks for your reply.

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