Personal Reflection 2017

My experiences with the Irish Education system.

Peter Buknicz



My experience in the schooling system before I came to Youth reach was far from a positive one. My secondary level education began when I went into first year in St.Jarlaths in Tuam. It wasn’t long until I found out that it wasn’t at all I had imagined it to be. There were so many people attending Jarlaths that even in my year alone there was approximately 120 pupils. I found this to be very intimidating. I found myself getting anxious thinking about going to school there, there was so many people and everyone had their cliques and I just felt like I didn’t fit in. It was quite a daunting experience trying to even sum up the courage to go in each morning. To make this worse the teachers were always talking down to me and discouraging me. I tried my hardest to learn the things on their course but no matter how hard I tried they would tell me I wasn’t good enough. Due to all of the reasons I have mentioned, and a few more on top of that, it was enough to unmotivate me and to make me stop going into school. I stayed at home and was homeschooled for a few months before I sat my Junior Cert. I then enrolled and started attending Youth reach the following September. My experiences with the Irish Education system, was a very poor one up until this point to say the least.

The first thing I noticed about Youth reach, when I went in on the first day, was that there was a completely different atmosphere to what you would find in the average secondary school. We all congregated in a classroom and there were approximately 30 of us sitting around staring at each other. There was a lot less people attending than what I was used to with my previous secondary school and I found this to be a lot less intimidating. Within a few weeks I had gotten to know everyone and even though some people had their cliques everyone got along well with everyone else for the most part.

I was assigned a designated mentor just as everyone else is. I really like the idea of having a mentor because the teacher will meet with you every couple of weeks to check up on how you are doing. You can go to your mentor if you wish to talk to someone and they will listen to you and give you advice. Besides this the student teacher relationships on a whole are more pleasant than that of an average secondary school. When I was attending secondary school in St.Jarlaths my teachers used to enjoy humiliating and degrading students when they weren’t able to understand the modules they were being thought. Whereas in Youth reach the teachers use positive reinforcement as a way to encourage us students to work and to have a healthier attitude towards working. The teachers don’t act as serious as they do in school and like to mess around with the students and have a laugh. This makes the atmosphere feel a lot more lighthearted and it helps make the day more enjoyable.

One of the best things about Youth reach in my opinion is the way it uses continuous assessment to grade the students as opposed to your Fate relying on one examination. Youth reach works off of a system of credit where you get credits every time you finish a course or module. A certain amount of credits are allocated to each subject, and you must complete your course and project work as well as sometimes doing tests to earn your credits. There are also more practical subject thought in Youth reach than in school for example: IT, Textiles, Communications etc. the more practice subjects are essential for learning skills we otherwise wouldn’t learn in school like how to do spreadsheets etc. I believe this is a more practical way of preparing people for working in the future instead of just testing memory skills alone. We also have ipads instead of using old-fashioned books. This is a modern age advancement that many schools have not made yet but we are lucky enough to have. This gives us more experience working with technology in an ever-advancing modern age. We are learning more useful skills by working with technology rather than using a pen and paper.

Another great this about Youth reach is the outings, we get to go on. We are brought to do activities that aren’t orientated around school or schoolwork, instead it’s about bonding with the other people in Youth reach and we learn about teamwork and co-operation. Youth reach on a whole is very insistent on teaching us about Cooperating with each other and teaching us about teamwork and team spirit. These are very important skills to have developed that will serve us well in the working world. Youth reach also teaches us about leader ship skills and the qualities we need in order to become a leader and excel in the working world.

My experience of Youth reach on a whole was very positive. Through my time spent here in Youth reach I have grown a lot as a person. I have developed my social communication skills to a point where I will talk to almost anyone about anything and I am not afraid to share my opinion. I have also gained a lot of practical skills I can use in the future such as math’s and computer skills. I have also learned how to cooperate with people and work in a group. I was though how to compile and present project work and how to interview for a job. These skills are definitely going to stand well to me in the future and they are a lot more practical skills than what I would have learned if I had gotten a standard education. Youth reach helped to bring the fun into learning with a better and more relaxed atmosphere and with a much more positive and equal student teacher relationship, this encouraged me to learn and has inspired me to want to continue my education to third level in the future, something I never would have thought of two or three years ago.

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