Reaction to Leaving Certificate 2023 Politics & Society (Higher Level) by Paul McAndrew, Politics & Society teacher at The Institute of Education.
- A fair paper with lots of scope for students to show strong independent thought.
- A paper that focused on critical thinking and analysis, rather than rote recitation.
Section A consisted of a selection of short questions that covered the whole range of the course. The syllabus is divided into four topics areas: Power and Decision-making, Active Citizenship (which was the topic of their projects), Rights and Responsibilities, and Globalization and Sustainable Development. Questions ranged in topic from the Seanad, the role of the Gardai, EU membership, to the freedom of the press, and hate speech laws. These questions were short, concise, and straightforward in assessing all the familiar covered material.
In contrast, Section B provided students with previously unseen documents on migration and displacement. The goal of the Data-based Questions is to demonstrate critical thinking skills. Students needed to adapt and assess – evaluating the documents and providing carefully considered critiques of their material and sources. The topic is very relevant to the modern world, but it is method not memory that is being assessed in this section. This section stretches some students, particularly those who prefer a more memorisation-based approach, but for those who grasped the essential method at heart of the task, this was a manageable section.
This non-rote approach is furthered in the final section, Discursive Essays. Some questions in this section give students a statement and the prompt to “discuss” it, thus asking them to contextualise and assess its merits and perspectives. Other questions are even more overt in their call for analytic skills, demanding that students “critically evaluate” or “critically assess” a topic. Again, the issues were broad, with more representation of Globalization and Sustainable Development than previous years. All the topics would be ones with which students would be familiar – the social media question would be right up their street. There were also opportunities for thoughtful discussions of class and wealth, supranational bodies, international human rights frameworks, and the impact of peaceful protest. The goal in this section isn’t to simply have an opinion but to present a substantiated discussion, supported by studied sources. Students are encouraged to show strong independent thought and present positions that can be stood over and defended.
Those who really engaged with classroom discussion and revised previous papers will be happy with this paper.