No sur­prises from on high in re­li­gion ex­ams

Irish Examiner - - News - Niall Mur­ray

Ju­nior Cer­tifi­cate re­li­gious education papers were set at a sim­i­lar stan­dard to other years for the es­ti­mated 27,700 stu­dents who took them yes­ter­day af­ter­noon.

This view of Teach­ers’ Union of I rel and (TUI) sub­ject spokesman Stephen O’Hara ap­plied to the higher and or­di­nary ex­ams. He said the higher-level exam pro­vided plenty chal­lenges with the ter­mi­nol­ogy and higher or­der think­ing in­volved.

One ques­tion asked stu­dents to com­pare the ap­proaches of ag­nos­ti­cism and sec­u­lar hu­man­ism to find­ing an­swers about the mean­ing of life.

How­ever, while there were some tricky tasks, stu­dents should have found the exam in line with those of pre­vi­ous years, and may have fared well in a ques­tion about the im­por­tance of re­li­gious be­lief for young peo­ple in Ire­land.

Mr O’Hara said the or­di­nary-level exam was very man­age­able, with a nice com­pre­hen­sion piece about the im­por­tance of re­flec­tion when search­ing for the mean­ing of life. How­ever, the pa­per did get tricky as it went on, he said, with the fi­nal ques­tion ask­ing about how mem­ber sofa ma­jor world re­li­gion are given a chance to re­store bro­ken re­la­tion­ships.

In the morn­ing, high­er­level home eco­nomics stu­dents took what As­so­ci­a­tion of Sec­ondary Teach­ers Ire­land sub­ject spokes­woman Mar­garet Kent con­sid­ered a top­i­cal pa­per. She said the short ques­tions fea­tured straight­for­ward nu­tri­tion top­ics, in­clud­ing meat sub­sti­tutes.

While stu­dents might have had trou­ble iden­ti­fy­ing four dis­ad­van­tages of ad­ver­tis­ing, they would have no prob­lem com­ing up with four ways to re­lieve stress, Ms Kent felt. There were also four nice short ques­tions about sus­tain­able liv­ing prac­tices, such as wa­ter con­ser­va­tion and en­ergy-ef­fi­cient ap­pli­ances.

On the longer ques­tions, Ms Kent said stu­dents en­joyed be­ing able to give nu­tir­tional in­for­ma­tion about a ready-to-cook veg­e­tar­ian lasagne, some­thing she said was very re­flec­tive of mod­ern life.

In places, how­ever, she would like to have seen some lan­guage ex­plained more clearly, such as re­dress which was asked about in terms of con­sumer rights at both higher and or­di­nary level.

Point­ing out that short ex­plana­tory def­i­ni­tions of fi­nance, lipids, gro­ceries, were given on last week’s or­di­nary level Leav­ing Cer­tifi­cate home eco­nomics exam, Ms Kent said it would be good to see some­thing sim­i­lar at Ju­nior Cer­tifi­cate as English is not the first lan­guage of many stu­dents and oth­ers may have poor lit­er­acy skills.

While a res­pi­ra­tory ques­tion was straight­for­ward, Ms Kent thought it un­usual to ask Ju­nior Cer­tifi­cate stu­dents about Gov­ern­ment anti-smok­ing ini­tia­tives when the smok­ing ban has been in place since be­fore or soon af­ter most tak­ing the exam were born.

Like their higher level coun­ter­parts, or­di­nary level stu­dents had al­ready built up sig­nif­i­cant marks from pre­vi­ously-com­pleted culi­nary and prac­ti­cal ex­ams.

Ms Kent said their short ques­tions on the writ­ten pa­per had some dif­fi­cult lan­guage and they would have ap­pre­ci­ated, for ex­am­ple, some di­a­grams to as­sist with a ques­tion about types of teeth.

A sym­bol for harm­ful or ir­ri­tant house­hold prod­ucts lacked con­text, such as be­ing shown on a la­bel, and the lan­guage de­scrib­ing dif­fer­ent house-types was con­sid­ered a bit tough for or­di­nary level stu­dents.

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