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Monday, April 2, 2012

Similarities and Differences

Although the differences probably stand out to me more than the similarities, there is an equal share of both when comparing my pre-pracs back in the States to here at the Jes in Galway. The main difference for me initially was my schedule. I go to the Jes for almost a full day on Tuesdays and then for another class on Wednesdays before my classes at the university to see a different level. Because my co-operating teacher teaches history classes for both the Irish and English tracks, I don’t go to every single one of his classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It’s definitely a little more flexible than my pre-pracs for BC because of the nature of the school. The teaching style and routine for an average is also different. After taking casual attendance, the class usually goes over their homework. Although there are sometimes a variety of activities, what struck me was their reliance on the textbook. Particularly for the 6th years in their Modern Irish history class, they read aloud and highlight from the textbook almost without fail each class. As they read through, Mr. O’Flatharta will point out sentences or dates for them to underline or highlight. It is really important for the 6th years to know these specifics for their Leaving Certificate exams, but it’s interesting to see them use the textbook so much. I feel like in education in America there is such a strong emphasis on not relying on the text too much and using other sources and types of instruction. The students are still held to high expectations however, especially at the Jes. At my first pre-prac at Brighton High School one of their main problems was turning in homework in addition to attendance. Although Mr. O’Flatharta usually only checks the homework by going over it in class and asking the students questions from it, it is rare that more than one or two students out of 20 don’t have it. Almost every day their homework consists of them writing out page responses to various questions. Especially for the 6th years, they take their work very seriously because they have their Leaving Certificate exams coming up. The Leaving Certificate exams are somewhat similar to our standardized tests in the United States. The students spend usually three to two years preparing for these exams and there is one for each subject. These exams encompass written essays and for the language exams an oral section as opposed to multiple choice questions however. Like the SATs and ACTs, the results for the Leaving Cert often determine matriculation to certain universities or programs too.

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