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‘O Captain, My Captain’: One Teacher’s Call for Change in the Irish Education System


by Jennifer Horgan

“The school system in Ireland is in crisis: oppressive, soul-destroying (for teachers and students), deeply unfair, inadequately old-fashioned; the Leaving Cert is no longer fit for purpose. This beautifully written, hard-hitting, thought-provoking book exposes all the rot, and suggests ways to fix the problem. Jennifer Horgan would make an ideal Minister for Education.” 

-Dr Vittorio Bufacchi, Lecturer in Philosophy, University College Cork

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‘O Captain, My Captain’: One Teacher’s Call for Change in the Irish Education System

The debacle over Leaving Cert 2020 illustrated how out of date both the traditional exam and the intense points race it engenders are in the twenty-first century. Jennifer Horgan, a secondary school teacher in Cork and the Irish Examiner’s resident Secret Teacher columnist, calls for a root-and-branch reformation of our system in this compelling book. She imagines what our education system might look like without the Leaving Cert and the CAO system.

She considers the type of learning that might happen in our classrooms without the demands of a single set of high-stakes exams. And she argues that our students and broader society might be more fulfilled and safer as a result.

Drawing on her teaching experience both here and abroad, alongside academic research and the perspectives of friends and colleagues, Jennifer puts forward a persuasive argument for reform that focuses on the central triumvirate of student, parents and teachers working together in a system of mutual support and respect, rather that pitting each side against the others in a factional war. ‘O Captain, My Captain’ is essential reading for teachers, parents, policymakers, and all those with an interest in how our education system prepares the next generation for life in modern Ireland.

About the Author

Jennifer Horgan is a teacher and journalist who has spent the last fifteen years in classrooms in Ireland and abroad. As a journalist, she has written for the Evening Echo and writes a weekly column on education in Ireland for the Irish Examiner entitled ‘The Secret Diary of an Irish Teacher’. She teaches English and has had creative work published in The Honest Ulsterman, The Blue Nib and Crossways. She lives in Cork with her husband and three school-going children.

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Weight 0.3 kg
Dimensions 12.7 × 3 × 19.8 cm