The recent 3-part RTE series “The School” broke new ground in terms of education and television.
What takes place in schools is both familiar and mysterious to most adult viewers.
Our school experiences resonate throughout the entire span of our lives and, for many, learning identity forged during teenage, years remains fixed and unchallenged long after our initial schooling is complete.
Every society looks to young people to reproduce and reinvent itself for the future. Put simply, organised societies that are good at education will survive and outlast societies that fail to do so. Schools and education are our biggest investment apart from health systems.
Strangely, unless you are currently an active participant in the school system, there is little visibility of what’s going on. We seldom get an opportunity to compare schools today with the schools of our childhood. This issue is more important that a simple need to satisfy our curiosity: we need to know about how much has changed, the improvements, new ways of teaching, a new understanding of learning, and new thinking on what should take place in schools.
Since we left school we have grown and developed into who we are today – few of use would say that we have not radically changed since the day we left school. And yet, we often assume that the school system that we left so long ago has remained fixed and unchanged. Obviously this is not the case.
And this is why “The School” as a television series did us all a great service. It provided an opportunity to ‘open our minds’, to see and to experience contemporary school life.
The school principal, Eamon Gaffney is a good friend of mine. Eamon, the staff and students of St Peters Dunboyne showed great courage and self-confidence in facilitating the making of these programmes. I remember Eamon saying that he felt that this story needed to be told “people need to know about schools of today, the breath of learning and the holistic approach to education”.
“The School” has captured something that’s important to us all.