School Stories are a series of tales from parents and others involved in the school system, highlighting some of the joys and difficulties encountered while trying to get our children educated.
My introduction to Educate Together came two years ago, when I became engaged in lively discussion with a GET2LS committee member via the GET2LS Facebook page regarding the topic of subjects taught at 2nd level. Having recently completed teacher training to be a Post Primary teacher teaching Business and IT I was particularly frustrated that given the need for suitably qualified IT professionals to work in industry, schools were still not teaching Computing at post primary level. At the very least given that we now live in a digital age where people of all ages are in possession of laptops, iPads and smartphones, students should be learning how to use IT correctly and responsibly in schools.
So I became aware of Educate Together mid rant while job hunting and, if I am perfectly honest, when I was subsequently invited to come along to a GET2LS meeting my initial thinking was that this might be a good way of getting my foot in the door of a new school.
This initial train of thought soon changed as I became more aware of the Educate Together (ET) ethos and became more involved in GET2LS. I realised that I agreed with a lot of what ET offered, in particular the fact that they are multi denominational. I would like to think of myself as being spiritual, a practising Roman Catholic, so when we came home to Ireland 14 years ago it seemed natural to me to enrol my children into the local Catholic national school. As the years have passed I do not regret this decision. The school is child centred, co-educational and demonstrates equality amongst all students, even the very few who are not Catholic, however I would have preferred it if my children had the opportunity to experience and learn about all religions not just the Catholic religion so that a healthy respect for these could be gained. Hours upon hours are spent in classes 2 and 6 of National school getting students ready for First Communion and then Confirmation when students could be learning about literacy, numeracy and even computing. They could be appreciating the differences and many commonalities of other peoples and religions in the world. Now that my eldest has started the local Catholic secondary school I find that a lot of lip service is paid to morning prayers and Holy days but that is all it is – lip service; I see no particular benefit in my daughter being in a Catholic school as opposed to any other school with a different ethos. All those hours spent preparing for the Sacraments in national school seem little more than a ‘nice day out’ as the meaning behind them seems to be lost. I find myself increasingly of the opinion that religion should be taught apart from the school and should be something that parents engage in learning about and practising with their children should they want to outside of school.
I have no problem with my children learning about different religions within school so as to gain understanding and a respect for these but I do feel that it is up to me and my husband to teach our children about what we believe and not the school.
Have your own story? Please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. While we cannot guarantee that we will publish every item received, we will publish as many as possible. You don’t have to be a blogger or an experienced writer to participate, just someone who shares our objective of an Educate Together second-level school in Galway.