The Irish culture is the complete opposite of America. The best way to summarize the differences is Americans live to work and the Irish work to live. People in Ireland are much more relaxed and have an approach to life that resembles a “take it as it comes.” At times, this can be frustrating because process take longer, efficiency isn’t valued, one can down a whole coffee in the time it takes to make a coffee for “take away” (never say “to go,” they look at you like you have four eyes). Irish people are those that like and WILL sniff the roses when they walk. As an American this whole mentality to life took some adjusting and reconsidering my own thinking. Personally, I like this approach better – life is ten times less stressful.
Since this philosophy is the average Irish person’s mindset, it impacts the classroom. My CT was the most flexible teacher I have ever worked with. No schedule in her classroom was set in stone. The classroom environment was very relaxed and never felt stressful. There was no pressure to reach a certain point in the curriculum. My CT never had to rush or push content to meet “checkpoints” that are common in American classrooms. My Irish CT appeared much more free and liberated than my American CTs. There are standards and frameworks required by the Irish education system, but she was able to make the executive decisions. Unlike American teachers, Irish teachers are thought to know teaching best. My CT still ran the show and not some state mandated curriculum. While this is my personal opinion of American education, I think many educators can relate to these issues in our system. In some American schools there is even scripted curriculum, which is so incredibly demeaning to a teacher’s credibility. As I mentioned in a previous blog, the view of teachers in Ireland is much more positive than in the US and I think this also contributes to their freedom from higher power mandates. While I think the US is far from changing its education system this drastically, teachers could do their best to try and bring their most relaxed state into the classroom. Unstressed teachers are ten times better than stressed teachers. I believe that all American teachers, students, and future generations would benefit from a more relaxed Irish approach and taking a few more deep breaths before they walked in the classroom is a good starting point.