Thursday, June 4, 2015

Another Day of Learning at UCC

Here's to another day of informative lectures on the gorgeous UCC campus! Today, we had two lectures after our group broke into two smaller groups for the first half of the morning. The Comparative Education (Special Ed) group visited a local mainstream school with classes for pupils with disabilities, which I heard was a really awesome experience! I stayed on the UCC campus with the rest of the Comparative Education group students and listened to a wonderful lecture by Dr. Declan Kennedy about science education in Ireland. Dr. Kennedy spoke about how the Junior and Leaving Certificate operates in Ireland, along with the breakdown of how science is taught in Irish schools. We also learned that like the United States, Ireland is having difficulties with getting students interested in science. Dr. Kennedy presented a great lecture and I enjoyed seeing the setup of science classrooms of UCC.

After the first lectures, our groups came back together for a lecture from local special education school principals, Donal Deasy and Siobhan Allen. These lectures opened my eyes to the potential difference of the importance of education in Ireland compared to the United States. The majority of Irish parents put education first and foremost and seem to be an active part in their child's schooling. Principal Allen shared with us how their special education schools work with their students. I thought it was great how she explained to always use simple, broke down steps with children such as learning to tie your shoe actually has 24 steps. With a child, you would need to go through each step and check it off as the child completed it rather than rushing the child through the whole process. This was just one example of the many great teaching methods she discussed. She also shared that on Fridays (if able) kids with special needs spend the day at a mainstream school, which I thought was a great opportunity for these students.

After a morning full of  lectures, we grabbed lunch and enjoyed a bit of free time. I, along with a few other students in the group spent our time exploring and shopping in the Cork city centre. Our whole group met today to discuss topics for each of our final papers. I really enjoyed this time as it gave us all an opportunity to reflect on the lectures we had heard so far. We all discussed various topics about comparative education between United and Ireland from diversity in schools, teacher autonomy, importance of education, and preschool intervention. We all then enjoyed a delicious dinner at Strasbourg Goose. Then it was off to bed to get a good night sleep for our last day in Cork tomorrow! 

--Taylor Hanna 

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