Monday, 14 June 2010

HP boss questions time and resources spent on Irish in education.

It has long been the contention of this blog that the promotion of Gaelic, as a badge of supposed “authentic” Irish identity, has been a divisive waste of time, money, effort and resources. A cultural-nationalist, State-sustained industry that, to me, sums up much of the nonsense of this place.

Since the State’s sorry conception it has been a badge of honour for those who subscribe to the old Dev and Paddy Pee-inspired vision of a Gaelic, crossroads-dancing (with Peig Sayers as cheerleader) hate-the-Brits Ireland.  And, of course, a tool for others to advance their careers in its burgeoning, elitist, taxpayer-funded bureaucracy.

Here’s an example. Some years ago, a lobby group called Stadas campaigned to have Gaeilge made an official language of the EU. One of its declared motivations was to secure EU jobs for "Irish speakers".  Well, a couple of Sundays back the Tribune’s Martin Frawley reported that €750,000 was spent by the government paying 40 lawyers to attend courses in Gaelic “so they would be available to work in the EU”. To date, the report said, just four laywers have been hired by EU institutions to work through Gaelic. Something, remember, that is totally unnecessary and has been created only through bureaucracy and lobbying.  And this is just one small example.

Interesting then, that Hewlett-Packard Ireland’s Michael Murphy has questioned the amount of time and resources spent on Gaelic in our schools. In a statement that is guaranteed to get the Little Irelanders, Gaelic educationalists and grant-grabbers up in arms, he says we should be giving more attention to languages such as Mandarin.

In today’s Metro, the HP managing director is quoted as saying that our education systems needs a “shake up”, with nothing being treated “as a sacred cow… Everything should be looked at – nothing should be ruled in or out. An enormous amount of time is put into Irish”.

HP, by the way, employs 4,000 people in Ireland. And to think there are nutters out there, many of whom seem to have a fatal attraction to Gombeen Nation, who want Gaelic “restored” as the lingua franca of Ireland. Oh dear, we’ll be back to seaweed cultivation and famines so, when all the international companies flee.

Interestingly, although Murphy believes that more languages should be introduced to Irish education, he says that “a language teacher should not be necessary in every school any more”, maintaining that there are now ways of using technologies such as virtual classrooms.

If that is the case, surely we should be also looking at ways to cut down on language-based bureaucracy not just in education, but in the public service, the EU, and the legal sector? 

Given the economic climate, EU-wide, there has never been a better time to start - even if it does cut off a few career paths.

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Anonymous said...

I think Irish is a beautiful language , full of soul and poetry but the way its shoved down peoples throats and the people who are so hardcore about it would seriously make me feel sick every time I hear it . I have just come to associate it with conservative , catholic backwardness at this stage .Its defo jobs for the boys again , tg4 is hilarious there are so many of the same actors , presenters in every one of its shows .

Anonymous said...

So let me see if I've got this straight.

The boss of hi-tech HP wants teachers replaced by... Hi-Tech virtual classrooms.

What a refreshing idea, and not a hint of self-interest in it at all ;)

Anonymous said...

Thats it Gaelic is not a language perse its a label. It lost its status as the language of the down trodden long long ago. Its now just another symbol of percieved sophistication. lol..


Anonymous said...

"And to think there are nutters out there, many of whom seem to have a fatal attraction to Gombeen Nation"

S'rite lar... We is a herding peoples.

The Gombeen Man said...

LOL. Now that doesn't read the same without quoting the complete sentence, Anon!!

Sorry about the delay in getting the comments up, folks. Thanks.

Anna said...

Large Dublin Based Govt Dept :
No in Dept 1000:
(Data from Internal Phone/ Contacts List/ Skills Listed Intranet)
No in brackets = % of workforce(*) proficient in language shown.

Irish 21 ( 0.02%) (!!!!)
Chinese 0 (++)
Dutch 1
French 45 (0.045%) (>>)
German 14 ( 0.01%) (***)
Greek 0
Icelandic 1
Italian 4
Polish 5 (<<)
Russian 5 ( <<)
Spanish 3 (^^)
Sign language 7 (0.007%) (** )
Korean 1
Swedish 1

* Ethnic & Linguistic notes on sample:
Approx 98% Guaranteed Irish due to :A very small amount of contamination by Northern Irish ( 3 workers inc. self ) + a slightly Exotic sprinkling of workers from Africa, Canada, Eastern Europe - approx 20-30.
(NB To avoid statistical bias ( and any inferences from an un-biased but very peeved researcher) the no of Genuinely Irish workers( those who received 12 yrs instruction in 1st National language) Could be taken as 1000-30= 970. The % of Irish speakers on this smaller Genuinely Irish sample will therefore Jump to 0.04% : this indeed is a better return for the millions we spend in our schools teaching Irish.)

** These people may have learned it outside- but sign language IS actually taught at the Civil service language centre, therefore I deduce these dextrous people learned it during their time in the service- undertaking classes of their own volition. These workers = 1/3 of those who speak the national language
*** Either learned during 5/6 yrs school and/or 3 yrs college= 5/8 yrs study.
German speakers = 2/3 of those who speak the National language
<< These are mostly native speakers- who just happen to be in the civil service
^^ And these
++ We WILL Need a lot more of these than 0
>> Vive la France! Irelands’ favourite 2nd language- Spoken by more than Twice the no who speak the first National language( et inc. Moi- these illuminating stats are from my work)
(!!!!) : **SIGH** DO I need to add a note??

anna said...

Ireland is one of the few EU countries that doesn’t teach computer science as a school subject ( as opposed to just ECDL). (The UK does GCSE and A level in computer science.)
Remedial maths & English classes are Very badly needed in many schools in poor areas:
That poor murdered boy ( was his name Damien Mc Anespie who was in the ‘care’ of the HSE had a reading age, at age 14 , of about 9. He also was removed from 1 school- then the HSE never found him another to put him in! So the State forced him out of school- at @ age 14.
Poor school kids benefit from money spent on school provided breakfasts and after schools clubs. Don’t forget schools psychologists- that murdered boy would have greatly benefited from that- but Ireland seems to have almost none. And evidently little money for home tutors/ extra tutors for boys like him who fall behind
Also Vincent de Paul is paying for the tests needed to decide if a child is dyslexic- somehow Irish schools never seem to pay for these themselves.
Actually it is essential to do well in maths to do well on a computer college courses- yet few take higher level maths- and the standard of ordinary maths is not good even for those who pass it: I am an Ordinary level maths laureate s myself- I passed it 6 years ago, and was amazed at how easy it was to pick up marks for knowing very little - after gaining this academic honour I decided to again knock off GCSE maths , and again ( for the 3rd time) got my usual undistinguished 20%.
So yes, I think the standard of ordinary level maths is dismal, no wonder many are failing in science/ computer/ technology based courses at college,
So my question is:
Where is All the money we need to pay for :
Leaving cert computer courses: More ordinary level and honour level maths classes: Remedial Maths & English classes for the deprived( and many more school classes in subjects leading to genuine jobs in woodwork , metalwork etc: More foreign language teaching in schools: Money for schools psychologists for troubled kids and those with learning issues such as dyslexia?
I’m sure some of the 500 Million currently used for teaching Irish could be diverted this way?

Anonymous said...

That HP guy has a point. Does that meeaan that teachers wouldn't get their 3 months off to top up their tan St Tropez?


Anonymous said...

Uch. Don't even get me started. I get goosebumps when I flash back to Irish grammar classes. It has been known and understood for years that it is completely the wrong approach to learning a language anyway. They are supposed to be learned as closely as possible to the way you learned your mother tongue. You don't learn the structure and technical makeup of a language if you want to learn it efficiently, that comes later if you are so inclined. No wonder that after 12 years of schooling that most people don't and won't speak a word of it. A complete and utter waste of time, money, resources and brainpower that should be done away with by referendum at the earliest opportunity. We badly need a more pragmatic approach to education in this country, which historically favours and rewards those who *work hard* and engage in mind numbing rote systems over those who genuinely want to learn and show aptitude, keenness and flair in particular areas.

The Gombeen Man said...

Thanks for all your comments Anna, Dakota and all you mysterious Anons (but I think I detect a Paul Mc C there). I see Mr Murphy's comments provoked a couple of "800 years" style letters in the Metro this morning. Ho-hum.

Fair play to him for raising the point. And Anon 12:55, good point. I think there have been noises recently about modernising the Contitution, and maybe this should be an issue...