Youth Media Team members Brídín and Jack interview columnist and author Fintan O’Toole, Deputy Editor of the Irish Times.
Fintan understands the problems facing the education system as his wife is a teacher. He understands the challenges teachers encounter at the moment, particularly as they face cuts to funding and resources. Within fifteen minutes of Fintan’s lecture beginning, over 100 tweets flew out of the audience, establishing #féilte as one of the foremost trending hashtags today during this celebration of World Teacher’s day. Fintan was interrupted several times during his talk by enthusiastic applause from the audience.
Fintan believes technology can make learning easier and better. However, sometimes nothing compares to quiet time just reading about a topic. Technology can be hyper-active and can distract us from thinking deeply. His time in Primary School was not enjoyable as corporal punishment was still the norm. He didn’t feel safe in school but he did say he had some really wonderful teachers. In his opinion the best thing that has happened to Primary Education is the end to violence towards children. How we treat old people and children is the measure of how well our society is functioning.
Ultimately we want students to be confident, creative and critical and they inherit these characteristics from teachers, who need to model this behaviour. So we need to trust teachers. If Fintan was Minister for Education, he would trust teachers to use their Croke Park hours as they see fit. It is very insulting to say that you don’t trust them to use their time wisely. Teachers should be given freedom to innovate in their classrooms and not become box tickers.