Education

Education is crucial to everyone and yet we seem to forget about it and abandon it. Is there any country with a good education system? You tell me.

I read an article in the Irish Times today that asks a simple question, is Ireland’s education system fit for the 21st century?

It was an excellent article but in the name of balance, the journalist never really answered the question. It’s no. In fact, it isn’t even fit for the 20th century.

team work 1
A larger emphasis should be placed on teamwork in school

If we look at subjects in school and the courses in colleges and the jobs being announced there is a huge gap. Nutritional sciences, computer science, gaming, arts, film and broadcasting, aviation, travel & tourism have all led to jobs in Ireland. They are all college courses.

Film is not taught at school yet it is one of the biggest industries in Ireland at the moment. Star Wars, Vikings and Game of Thrones are just some of the major successes that were filmed in Ireland.

Food and agriculture, psychiatry, and others are wedged in as “Science” or social personal health education (SPHE). Politics is “taught” as CSPE. I took CSPE and can’t even remember what it stands for.

Our CSPE had a picture of the Minister for health at the time and asked to name him as well as half a dozen others. All of them let office a year later. That is the definition of a waste of time!

Ireland has mental health issues and if we invest like we need to there will be a drive for therapists, counselors and psychiatrists. Knowing Shakespeare sonnets will be little use to them.

What about Facebook, Google etc? We have them here so surely every classroom in Ireland  has a computer? Computer classes are virtually non-existent.

Even if we change what we teach we have to still change how we teach them. Sitting a two-and-a-half hour exam at the end of three years learning is pointless.

Teamwork, communication, using word, excel etc are the basics required going in to college yet for most students college is the first time they have to do any of these things.

We are in a changing world and we have not just started changing, it has been changing for twenty years or so now but we still have largely the same education system. Companies are here in Ireland because our graduates were saved by their universities or because they were innovative themselves or simply for the tax but it is certainly not because our school leavers are the best in the world.

Our education system is not best preparing students for the jobs we have at present never mind future jobs. Educational policy needs to stop preaching at children and instead needs to show them how to think for themselves, solve problems and be creative.

I’m certain education can be and is done better in other countries. Let me know if you are aware of better methods. A good template is a start!

We won’t get out of the next recession because we all learned how fold mountains were formed or what tools were used during the Bronze Age. Surely we can do better than that.

Fold Mountains1
This is about 3 weeks of work in an Irish classroom

Bravery 

Bravery is a strange concept which will mean different things to different people. 

Yesterday’s events in London will again highlight bravery. PC Keith Palmer stood at the gates of Westminster when he was attacked by Khalid Masood. 

PC  Palmer stood in the way of danger and paid the ultimate price for his act of bravery. 

Many people rightly acknowledged the bravery of politicians and pedestrians who stopped and offered assistance where possible. These acts are once off acts neccessary because of the extraordinary evil attacks. The bravery of PC Palmer was a part of his daily life as it is for every member of the emergency services. 

Tuesday 14th March saw an equally heroic display of bravery. Rescue 116 helicopter crashed while providing support in a rescue mission off the west coast of Ireland. Captain Dara Fitzpatrick was killed and the rest of her crew are still missing presumed dead. 

Captain Fitzpatrick and her crew risked their lives every time they responded to an emergency call. Just like PC Palmer, Captain Fitzpatrick paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the safety of others. 

Irish naval teams now stand ready to dive and hopefully recover the wreckage of the helicopter and the bodies of its crew members, Mark Duffy, Ciarán Smith and Paul Ormsby. Even this naval team must risk their lives to find answers for the families of rescue 116 but they are doing so willingly. 

Bravery comes in many forms and sadly we are seeing need for more and more bravery from our emergency services round the world. From doctors in Syrian hospitals and Afghan police to PC Palmer and Captain Fitzpatrick the world needs bravery to protect us from harm even if that means risking harm to themselves. 

World leaders will talk and praise the actions of their heroes and rightfully so but tomorrow or in six weeks, months or years a police officer will still stand in the way of harm or raise their gun in defence, a rescue team will still fly through rain and darkness to help those in need. 

It is not economics or budgets or accents or race which make people decent or a country what it is, it is the response of it’s citizens and the bravery of its heroes. 

The reaction to Trump’s congress speech is unwise

Trump doesn’t like the media.

That’s hardly breaking news. I have read multiple opinion pieces about how the way to prove him wrong is to stick to good quality journalism.

Fact-checking, using multiple sources, ethics and all the other attributes associated with journalism are going to prove him wrong. I agree.

So it is the day after Trump’s first speech to the joint congress. Trump toned down his stance on some issues and didn’t on others but it was undoubtedly one of his better speeches.

So today he got credit from the ethical press he hates so much right? No. It would be immensely difficult to praise a man who has been so horrible to the media but that is what must be done.

If the media is critical of President Trump for the “wrong” things he says but is also critical of him when he says the “right” thing, then he will have proof or at least evidence that the media don’t like him and therefore can’t be trusted to report on him.

Irish journalist Fintan O’Toole used the phrase “Feel Bad Feeling” (FBF) when talking about Donald Trump. O’Toole says Trump loves bad news because he can then present himself as having the answer or solution to the bad news.

It’s clever but he is hardly the first politician to do it. The media continue to feed him bad news.  The President is turning the bad news into ammunition and taking aim straight back at the media.

Starving him of his ammunition may be the only way to stop the onslaught on the media.

Alternative Facts and Fake News

We are so used to seeing “FAKE NEWS” at the end of one of Donald Trump’s erratic tweets that we may not realize how many others are using fake news and alternative facts.

During Brexit, the remain and the leave campaigns had entirely different figures on immigration. The public were given two figures for one subject. One was right and one was an alternative fact. It’s hard to spot the difference.

In Ireland, the Government released a waiting list for patients waiting on hospital care. An investigation by RTÉ, the state broadcaster, found the actual number to be higher if you considered those with an appointment date but still waiting. Again we have two lists, two different figures. Depending on your political or personal beliefs, one is a fact and the other is an alternative fact.

We could continue with a list of examples of alternative facts but the point is that alternative facts stem from dishonesty from the political elite. If the remain and leave campaigners have different numbers on immigration they should state clearly how they came to those figures.

  • Do they include British citizens returning home from emigration?
  • Do they include people who arrive in Britain just for a connecting flight?
  • Do they exclude Irish people because of the Common travel agreement?

All these questions can lead to different answers and skewer the final figure and ultimately skewer public opinion. That of course is the aim of the politicians and their spin-doctors.

Fake news is different. Fake news is a lie. The infamous “Bowling Green Massacre” was a lie. Fake news is an attempt to smear the opponent and it appears if you are caught spreading fake news the punishment is minimal. So why not give it a go?

Fake news also keeps journalists and reputable news outlets chasing and investigating stories which do not exist and, as a result, take resources away from the stories that matter.

Following the inauguration of President Trump, the main broadsheet newspapers were discussing the “Fake News” of the crowd size on the Hill. Meanwhile, President Trump was signing executive orders under the radar.

It is up to reputable news organizations not to chase fake news and alternative media down the rabbit hole. Solid reporting will win out. But! In a war of opinion, alternative facts and fake news there will only be one winner.

How Chinese investment is ruining the beautiful game

Football has lost all sense of money and value. It did that a long time ago but it has not plateaued, instead, it grew exponentially. It started with the “Top 4” of English football spending crazy money on distinctly average players (Gary Cahill).

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich were the only real big guns in terms of spending outside of England. PSG have now entered that league while Juve, and the two Milan teams still keep their spending relatively low.

Eventually other teams such as teams such as Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid have made a market for themselves by selling their stars to top European clubs and successfully reinvesting time and again.

Now there are new players to the game but all they have is money. No disrespect to the Chinese clubs but nobody watches their league in Europe and we won’t start now because Oscar has arrived.

The damage is being done in terms of the knock-on effect. Players in England will start demanding even bigger salaries and transfer fees. Agents will push transfers to get a cut of the fee. At least if Manchester United or Chelsea, Barcelona or Real Madrid pay €80 million for a player, they have a reasonable chance at success and will play to millions of people every week.

Who will pay when the next generation of players demand more money or they threaten to leave for China? We will. The supporters. The cost of tickets are rising, most teams have 3 jerseys per season not including training outfits which are all close to €80 each. We are constantly being asked to pay a little more.

Chinese clubs should focus on developing their own game. Attracting big name coaches may be more beneficial. They are throwing money at the problem and that does not help their game. The US teams did that and they are nowhere near as successful as they would have hoped when they signed Kaka, Beckham, Keane etc.

The Chinese clubs will not become Barcelona overnight or even in a few years but we will have to pay for their experiment to keep our top players at our clubs. I don’t believe any top player wants to play in China but a big offer is a powerful bargaining chip come deadline day.

Careers go to the MLS to die. Now they are going to the Chinese league to experience a very lucrative premature death.

How Trump created his own media

President Trump has made an enemy of the media, something previous presidents would have done at their peril but not President Trump.

Trump has used Twitter to announce the signing of executive orders and basically had a diplomatic argument with Mexico over social media. The use of Twitter has allowed President Trump to say whatever he wants and the media are constantly reacting. Twitter is allowing Trump to set the agenda.

I probably should point out that this is not a pro or anti-Trump post. I am interested in how he has manipulated the media to get himself in the oval office and how he is continuing to do so.

In a world of brevity and 24 hour news cycle, the media has often been sensational on Trump and at times been incorrect or unfair. In a week of executive orders on the environment, abortion, Mexico, voter fraud and more the media was sidelined by the size of crowds at the inauguration.

“Fake News” and “Alternative Facts” were two phrases which threw the global media into a frenzy while Trump continued to sign executive orders. If the media use facts and logic to challenge Trump instead of getting caught in sound bites and crowd size arguments then his presidency will be truly challenged.

The media should also recognize that the orders Trump are signing were ones he promised on the campaign trail so we should not be surprised and we should probably stop acting like every American is disgusted with his actions. A lot are, the majority are but he won the election on those promises. If the system is flawed you can’t blame Trump for that.

The rest of the world needs to realize America is important but we need to focus on ourselves and voting for people we want to run our country. President Trump will almost certainly only last 4 years so the media needs to hold on to their values and not be caught in the social media war with Trump.

 

Why #ImWithHer is really #ImNotWithHim

Social media is always a tool in elections these days but the #ImWithHer is a symbol of the detour Hillary Clinton and her campaign took in this race. Early on, the focus was on Clinton’s policies and experience. She was the calm professional opposite the crazy new guy.

Both candidates have stumbled through this campaign trail. Scandal after scandal lay strewn across the internet like the wreckage of the car crash this election has become.

Email scandal, leaked recordings of Trump talking about sexually assaulting women, FBI opening and closing investigations, republicans withdrawing support, tax records, awkward debates. If either candidate was facing another opponent, the election would be over by now.

 

 

Trump made it personal. From the start. That was always his game plan and to his credit he has stuck to it. I am a follower of politics but I don’t think I know Trump’s policies on almost anything but that strategy has gained him support.

The Debates came too soon for Clinton. She herself managed to stay on message of being the polished professional while Trump hit the self-destruct button. On the debating stage is when Clinton is most at home. The battle on Twitter and social media in general is where Trump has won some battles.

In an era of elections being contested on social media, perhaps it is of no surprise that a reality TV star is in the running to be the next president of the USA.

Clinton lost her strategy as Twitter and Facebook flooded with anti-trump posts followed by #imwithher. Very few pro-Hillary posts preceded the hashtag. As the email scandal took over the Clinton campaign, she was no longer the whiter than snow candidate so she went personal and that is why this race is closer than it ever should have been.

Clinton’s ads used sound bites of Trump talking about women, children, violence and immigrants while children or women watched. It was an effective anti-trump ad but again it told us very little of Clinton.

We have heard more about what Clinton will do in the White House from Trump and vice versa. I don’t think the winner of this election will be the most popular candidate, they will just be the least hated one.