My name is Robin Miller. I’m studying in Cork, Ireland for the semester. I teach on Fridays at St. Vincent’s Primary School in Cork. My on my first day I walked to the wrong school, but no worries I figured it out eventually! I guess my first comment would be the surprising number of schools in the tiny neighborhoods of Cork City. It seems like they are everywhere! It’s also very easy to spot the school children because after 3pm the city turns into a mass of dark green, blue, and plaid, the typical school uniform colors.
After that small debacle I just mentioned, the rest of my first day went very well. I toured the school and met some of the teachers I will be working with. Besides the accents, the most striking thing I noticed was the influence of Irish culture within each classroom. I walked in on the senior infant class (five-year olds) singing in Gaelic about Ireland’s favorite flower, the daffodil. Every poster in the classroom had terms in English and Gaelic, the official language of the country.
Over heated conversation in the staff room during lunch, I learned that a major point in the current political debates was this national language. Gaelic education is mandatory in Irish primary schools. However, many feel that the language is outdated and barely used in today’s modern society. But for nationalists, Gaelic language represents the nation’s history and struggle for independence from England.But none of the senior infants were aware of this political debate while they repeated terms for backpack, crayon, and pencil in Gaelic. From my outside perspective, this influence of national character was refreshing but also daunting as I found myself trying to sound out this confusing Gaelic morphology.