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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Differences in Irish and American School Systems

I have really enjoyed the time I spent at Scoil Bhride in Galway, Ireland. My day seems to be particularly relaxed, making the time fly. It seems that the Irish school system is not run on pressing time-constraints and meeting state and national standards as much the American school system does. The teachers are given two breaks during the day. The morning break is a tea break, while the children get a short recess and the afternoon break is for lunch, while the children enjoy a longer recess. There are several leniencies in the curriculum. For example, the day after the Super Bowl my CT and I got into a discussion about American football vs. Gaelic football. Later that afternoon we discussed with the class the differences and similarities. It was particularly fun because I was able to show the students clips from the Super Bowl to explain American football and then the students showed clips and explained Gaelic football to me.  
Another contrast between Irish schools and American schools is “specials”, as they are called in America. This includes out of the general classroom instruction for art, music, computers, and physical education. In Ireland, or at least at Scoil Bhride, these subjects are taught by the general education teacher. I can see the use in having teacher trained specifically in the field to teach these subjects. However, my CT creatively incorporates these subjects among others into his class curriculum. One example is how the students are taught religion through music. They love singing the songs, which means they all want to learn the lyrics. The lyrics are an effective way of telling religious stories. 


  1. That is so interesting Kelly, thanks for sharing! I also found it pretty interesting that all of the Irish schools, even public ones, are Catholic (since Ireland is a Catholic country). Coming from Catholic school myself, this was an environment that I felt comfortable in, but it did make me notice how much of a difference religion can play in a school. Because I have never taught or worked at a religiously affiliated school before, I was not used to hearing about religion in the classroom when I was in a teaching position, and it was quite an experience. Sitting in on a second year (about eighth grade) religion class was particularly interesting, since that is about the age where students are really beginning to form their own opinions about their religious beliefs, and you can see them starting to critically think about what they are being taught. Watching this development throughout the course of the school year must be both a delicate process and an interesting phenomenon for teachers to encounter.

  2. Kelly, so happy you’re having fun! Your experience sounds so relaxing. I am also in a catholic school system, but 95% of the student population is Muslim, which creates an interesting dynamic. My class is split in the morning, while a few kids have mass with my CT, the rest/majority of the class waits in a near by room for mass to be over. It is interesting that your school found a way to incorporate religion into their curriculum through subjects like music. It seems to make the material less intimidating and enjoyable for the students. It is great that your school found a way to incorporate “specials” even though it might not be in the same way we do in the US. Art and music are such a large part of Senegalese culture, but there is NO representation of it in the education system.


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