IT’S that time of year when the Ma and Da contemplate Junior’s lack of school learnin’ and realise that he/she won’t have a snowball’s of ever getting into the Uneee up in the city. But, as Skibbereen’s refined folk might say: ‘Nil desperandum. There’s always the grind school.’
And, by hook or by crook they’ll find the spondulicks to pay the fees, convinced that the grind school will pave the way for the brat’s entry into Third Level.
Yet, despite doubts about value for money and why grind schools charge so much, off the parents go to enrol the little snot, disguising the fact that their pride and joy did nothing at secondary school, that some exasperated teachers for a full five years and that they were little more than ‘feckin messers’ in the classroom.
But, for those parents with the bobs, the choice is offered of a regular part-time course at the grind school or an intensive (and very costly) revision course during the school holidays. In other words, well-heeled parents can ensure their children exploit their privileged financial situation for entry into Third Level.
Educationalists complain that grind schools do not offer a broad-based education that prepares the student for life’s unpredictable changes in luck or circumstances. What such outfits offer, they say, are skills in how to cram reams of information into juvenile brains in the hope that something can be regurgitated later in an exam situation.
Girls do better
And there’s this consolation: according to ESRI research carried out some years ago, girls who take grinds tend to do better in the Leaving Certificate than boys. Grinds, admitted the ESRI, can be instrumental in embellishing a Leaving Cert result but, crucially, family background, motivation, prior ability, and high educational aspirations also have a major contribution to play in a student’s improved exam performance.
The popularity of grinds, it seems, is highest among girls in single-sex schools, particularly those schools that cater for the middle classes, where family incentives influence the youngster’s educational development.
Of course ‘Leaving Cert Crash Courses’ can be beneficial for some adolescents but the downside is that they also prey on the vulnerability of parents who want the best for their children and are prepared to throw their offspring into a battery-hen education system.
And yes, it’s a fact that grind schools don’t have as many dunces as a mainline secondary school, but it’s also a fact that the content of what the young customers learn consists of nothing more than what they’ve already been taught in the mainline school.
So, let’s face facts: Parents inflict grind schools on their offspring because of peer pressure, blinkered expectations and a disregard of the reality that their offspring might not be that smart if they need expensive private tuition to keep up with their peers!
In other words, there is no magic formula for achieving high grades in the Leaving Certificate and, other than exploiting the exaggerated ambitions of parents and children, grind schools make little difference to results.
Seeing no evil
And now for something different: Ireland is cadging a seat on the United Nations Security Council for the 2021-2022 terms. Two positions will become available in 2021, and Vlad and his merry men want one of them.
Under UN rules, a two thirds majority of 193 member states, or 129 votes, is required for election to the Security Council and Ireland is up against heavy-hitters Norway and Canada for one of the seats. So, on behalf of us all, Vlad is spending almost two million of our money on his vanity project – a sum that would build a tidy number of local authority houses.
Our esteemed leader, however, is of the opinion that ‘winning a seat would place Ireland at the heart of UN decision-making on international peace, security and development’ – and that’s very important. Really?
Yes, if for no other reason than because Ireland’s most important supporter in its bid for the UN seat is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Them chaps rather enjoy the company of the Paddies and have a really spiffing embassy in Dublin. Indeed, more than 3,000 Irish people live in Saudi Arabia, which in 2016 beheaded 47 people in a single day and, as recently as April of this year, massacred 37 men in a one-day spree of State-endorsed terror.
Oh, and let’s not forget how the Saudis deal with journalists, such as Jamal Khashoggi: When obtaining a passport at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul a year ago, hitmen hacked him to pieces with a saw and walked out of the building with Khashoggi’s dismembered body in suitcases, the blood seeping out. The UN human rights council declared that the journalist was the victim of an ‘international crime,’ while the CIA and the US Congress pointed the finger at the Saudi de facto leader.
All of which ran like water off a duck’s back as far as Vlad and his government were concerned, so intense was their enthusiasm to join the big boys at the UN where, ironically, their stated aim will be to champion ‘the virtues of peace, equality and human rights’!
Indeed, the ambassador to Ireland of the most loathsome regime in the world was so impressed by Ireland’s stance on human rights that he recently declared that ‘Ireland definitely had the Saudi vote.’ So, we say well done Leo and thanks very much, Mr Ambassador!
With the visits to Bantry Bay of luxury cruise ships a trendy talking point just now, it is surprising that the ‘nightmare voyage’ of the Norwegian Spirit, went largely unreported.
Earlier this month, hundreds of passengers staged a protest aboard the vessel, demanding to be taken back to London and calling for refunds. They complained of ‘stale food,’ ‘overflowing toilets’ and not being able to leave the ship for three days.
A spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line explained that the voyage had been hit with weather issues and, consequently, the vessel was forced to cancel its call to Greenock. Amsterdam also was cut from the trip because of high winds, as was Le Harve in France.
The ship berthed in Norway at a place that passengers said was ‘deserted.’ It skipped Reykjavik, considering Greenock in Scotland a safer bet. Sadly, it was refused permission to dock. Consequently, it changed course for Belfast to where few people wanted to go.
Passengers now seek a refund of the five thousand smackers they paid for the cruise.
According to The Irish Times, Ireland has the fifth-largest number of ‘ultra-wealthy’ individuals per capita in the world. Apparently, 2,055 people have wealth in excess of 30 million dollars, but whether any of them read the newspaper of record is a matter of conjecture.
Which reminds us of that old chestnut from one of our favourite works of literature, the Beano: ‘How rich are refuse collectors?’
(You’re fired! – Ed)