Comparative Education in Ireland

March 11, 2019.

Wind, rain, dreary March weather affronted us as we left the hotel this morning, higher winds, sleet, dreary weather accosted us as we left the Galway University this morning.  The workshop and presentation were worth every drop of water that slashed across my face.

We trudged over to one of the buildings at the National University of Ireland, up the stairs of an old building, and into the classroom to eavesdrop into a master students induction on their project inquiry.  The student teaching in this master program is completed in blocks.  I’m not good at remembering numbers, but I think it was four weeks in their grad classes, six weeks in the classroom teaching/working with their cooperating teacher, then four weeks back at the university in class, and back to the same school for another six week block, and the cycle continues.  Or the four weeks / six weeks are reversed.  The professor, who was very sharply dressed in a tweed, dark blue dress, introduced through power point a basic guideline to the PI and it was a bit of a review from their required reading.  Since I am in the midst of my PI, I appreciated that the outlines and information was very similar to what was presented in my class last fall.

After the prof presentation, the students broke up into groups and as visitors we joined the student groups. My professor, J.L. and myself were with a group of four students who  followed a protocol for discussion and each student, who did not know what their PI was going to be, had an opportunity to discuss there main concern so far in their student teaching.  Then the rest of the students brainstormed ideas to help.  J.L. gave great advice to the students and I quipped in with some info and ideas.

One student has an Oppositional Defiant Student who is problematic in all classes.  The students never heard of

In the meantime before I finish writing my blog and if you are interested in how the Ireland school system works Jerry gave a fantastic presentation.  Play this on your smart phone while driving or working around the house.




March 10, 11:52 pm

This evening we took a train from Dublin to Ireland. I had the pleasure of chatting away with the natives. When one noticed the tiny chapbook about the O’Shea family, and I told him it is a relative’s last name, and I know through my DNA that my Irish origins are from Munster, he was impressed and said, “Oh, you really are an O’Shea.” Before he exited, he gave me his ticket from the Ireland and France Rugby match he went to earlier today in Dublin. Granted we did discuss the game, but still this small gesture touched my heart, and of course, Ireland won the game. He doesn’t think Ireland can beat Wales in the upcoming match.

A girl who sat next to me, Catherine, graduated with a degree in Marine Science. We discussed the sea life around Ireland: how I may see a pod of dolphins, some small whales, and seals on the ferry out to the Aran Islands. We chatted about how Gaelic and Irish are two distinct languages, but each one has distinct variations in various part of the country. Then the pressure to pass the end of the school exam because your score can determine what college you go to. The test reminded me of the SAT and ACT, but it is their only test. If they do well, they do not have to go to school their last year (senior year), but she said very few students take that option. She lived in Colorado for a while and came away with two ideas about American Education: College is way too expensive in the states and we over test our kids in the U.S.; as a result; we teach kids that learning isn’t about discovery – which steals discovery away from our students. I could not agree more; I love her turn of phrase, “steals discovery away.” She also told me that while living in the states she learned she can not use the word crack because though it has a positive connotation in Galway; it is a very negative word all over the States. Yep, she’s right about that.

Later we discussed the Catholic Irish Guilt – how funny she brought it up as I was just discussing with one of my classmates about New England Irish Guilt. She is what she calls a lapsed Catholic, and her grandfather is very upset with her for that. Through this discussion, she told me about the laundry system. If you are a young girl and you get pregnant you are taken away from your home, and while pregnant you work in laundry factories, After your child is born, it is take away from you, and you go back to your life. She said that so many Irish babies have been brought to America in the early 1900s and that the American Woman would stuff pillows or other soft objects underneath their clothes to make them look pregnant when they arrived in Ireland, and the leave with one of these Irish babies.

Her fame to claim is that her great grandmother helped to weave the carpet that adorned the Titanic. I learned that Bram Stoker was on the Titanic and now I’m angry (but not really) at my eleventh grade English teacher for never telling me.

March 10, 2019 around 4 in the afternoon:

I’m a sentimental person, and Guinness falls under that realm for me and all because of one man: Dr. Woodland.  I can’t imagine my college career without him in it.  I can’t imagine my college career without any of the theatre professors who became an integral part of my life.  Dr. Woodland and Guinness are intertwined in my mind – and when I enjoy a pint, it is Guinness all because of him.

There is the distinct aroma in the brewing process at St. James Gate that reminds me of my home in Summit Point, the smell from the basement as it wafted to the kitchen: the scent of my former husband’s brewing from the added hops we grew along the split rail fence of our front yard.  I walk up the seven floors of the storehouse now converted to a museum and redesigned in the shape of a pint glass, and I immerse myself in the history and raise my toasting glass to Dr. Woodland.

Later, I visited the Book of Kells and the Longhouse at Trinity College and once again, I fell back into the land of imagination and wish I could have been a part of the creation of the Book as I stared into the glass showcase and wondered at the skill and talent of the artists who painstakingly drew such tiny, intricate details.

Upstairs in the Longhouse, a leather musk permeates the air as soon as you step into it.  I fantasize jumping the green braided velvety rope and placing my hands on just one of the books and opening it up to read the mysteries within; instead, I look to the wooden arches bring to the mind ship the bottom hull that protects the contents.

At St. Patrick’s Cathedral I relished the sound of the choir practicing and breathed in the aroma of the earth from the beam and stonework.  I left with a purchased rosary.

Choir practice. I was not allowed to photograph or video the choir, so that is why this is the floor.




March 9,  2019 around 9-10 at night:

Per my class instructions, I need to write each day’s reflections. I have decided to add to the top of the page each day instead of the bottom of the page.

A mystical aura fills the air as I walk around the city. I am standing amid centuries: stories told and others lost forever. I contemplate on the stories we don’t know, the voices drowned through the years, the ones who built the wall to protect Dublin in the 1100’s, the children who suffered at the hands of a church in the not too distant past, the British kings who visited and the real motives behind those visits. The gifts, the wars, the laughter, and the tears, the love, and I’m sure the inevitable infidelity.

I walked through the door of Christ Church Cathedral and wondered in awe of the masonry and the talent and strength to build it, I know it is not the original structure built by a Viking King in 1030, but the site remains the same when the Anglo-Normans rebuilt it in in the 12th and 13th century. How much of the original look remains the same?

After my visit, I walked around the city on this rainy day and found myself looped around and at the St. James Brewery Gates. I didn’t go in, but the gates reminded me of the book In Search of God and Guinness in which I learned of Arthur Guinness’ kind heart and generosity to his workers. He set a gold standard that too many CEO’s fail today.

In the evening after dinner, I studied the angles and perspectives of the streets, a city design I recognize from my time in Prague. I will forever and always be fascinated with how light plays a role in perspective.



On March 8, 2019, I will be flying to Ireland with my graduate class to visit schools in Galway and the Aran Islands.  My goal is to post my daily reflections on this site.  As I ready myself for the trip by reading articles on  Ireland Education and watching Irish movies on Amazon Prime and Netflix, I thought back to my trip to Finland last year.  I made the mistake of not bringing a laptop with me to end the night by posting about the day and downloading pics.  When I came back, I did work on my required presentations to my school, community organizations, and for a school board meeting.  What stood out to me is how Finland relied on 80% lecture notes that the students took by hand. Then there was an individual objective test, which determined what students needed reteaching.  Then an individual project, and then after that was completed a group project – what we refer to as project-based learning.  They reasoned that students needed to know the material before he/she could finish a project on it or even begin to work collaboratively with other students on a project.

I am excited to see what I will. learn in Ireland.