Teaching children philosophy will prepare them for the digital age, according to the Irish President

Home tuition: Our guide to the best teaching and learning resources online

Teaching children philosophy will prepare them for the digital age, according to the Irish President

Two weeks. Five weeks. Five months. The truth is nobody – including the Department of Education – really knows how long the schools and colleges will close for. This is an evolving situation, and the WhatsApp rumours are just that: rumours.

It’s a stressful time for parents, particularly for those who have to work from home while trying to keep children amused and educated.

For however long this goes on, The Irish Times education team will be helping parents and students access the best resources to learn from home.

We will highlight online resources, as well as work that can be done without internet access, and we want to hear from parents, teachers and students about how they’re coping, what they’re learning and their top tips for each other.

We’ve already had a great response to our online callout to teachers, and it’s clear the education community is pulling together to support learners and each other.

Please share your top tips via and Instagram using the hashtag #EdShareIE, and we’ll do our best to highlight as many as possible.

The good news is there are tonnes of resources out there to meet the needs of children of all ages and stages. Here are some of the better ones as recommended by teachers and parents.

PDST (pdst.ie/DistanceLearning):
The Professional Development Service for Teachers – linked to the Departmenbt of Education – has an updated section on “supporting online learning during school closures” with links to resources Scoilnet and Webwise. It also features video to help guide teachers around online teaching.

Cogg.ie (cogg.ie/bunchar-aiseanna/)
Is féidir cuardach a dhéanamh ar líne do na háiseanna atá ar fáil do theagasc na Gaeilge nó don teagasc trí Ghaeilge.

Edco e-books (edcolearning.ie)
The education publisher Edco has made ebooks for primary, Junior Cert and Leaving Cert available online for free. To get the username name and password to access them, see the pinned tweet at .com/edco_ie

Google G suite for education
For any teachers struggling to get to grips with Google classroom, there are updated tips and tricks here on how to keep your lessons going remotely

Microsoft Office 365 /Teams
Many schools are used Microsoft software to provide remote learning, but many teachers might not be used to what it can do.This site gives advice on how to ramp up online learning quickly

Computers in Education Society of Ireland (cesi.ie/cesi-mailing-list)
The society is inviting teachers and principals to share their ideas, strategies and resources related to remote teaching and learning.

There are a number of short online courses in the area of digital technologies that teachers can access to upskill and gain ideas for distance learning.

Ciara Reilly’s teaching ideas
A former primary teacher and now a lecturer in education with expertise in ICT and digital education at Marino Institute of Education, Reilly has compiled an outstanding bank of resources. padlet.com/ciarareillymarino/primarydistancelearning

Dermot Looney’s teaching resources (@dlooney on )
A fourth-class teacher at St Dominic’s in Tallaght, Looney has compiled resources that are shared on his account.

This Instagram account run by Trainability.ie managing director Angela O’Connor offers resources for primary school children and children with ASD and additional needs, including how to make visual timetables for home. 

Literacy / numeracy: Irish education publishers

The major publishers of schoolbooks – including Edco (edco.ie), Gill Education (gillexplore.ie) and CJ Fallon (cjfallon.ie) –  are making their online education resources for primary and secondary students available free of charge, including ebooks, podcasts, games and puzzles. Twinkl.ie

Created by teachers, ideal for home education, it has lots of appealing games, stories, worksheets, etc. It is offering a free month’s subscription (enter offer code: IRLTWINKLHELPS)

'School on TV'

RTÉ is planning to broadcast an hour of “school on TV” to support children and their parents at home from March 30th between 11am and 12pm, aimed at first to sixth class pupils. It will be availble on catch-up on RTE Player, while worksheets will be available at on RTE.ie/learn

Khan Academy

Nonprofit site that provides free video tutorials in maths and reading

Subscription-based learning experience that provides curriculum-aligned maths and English content from junior infants up to sixth year

This is a free, online collection of easy-to-read and beautifully illiustrated stories, comics and poems for kids. You can select stories by theme

Whatever happened to the art of handwriting? This site lets you create custom handwriting practice worksheets.

Over the Moon English resources (GillExplore.ie)
Gill Education has provided Over the Moon English resources for junior infants to second class children on their site GillExplore.ie


Cúla4 (cula4.com)
This free Irish app from TG4 is aimed at two groups: Cúla4 na nÓg is aimed at under-sixes, while Cúla4 is aimed at older children. As well as TV shows, there are games and creativity sections.

Selection of primary resources
Ciara Reilly is a former primary teacher and now a lecturer in education with expertise in ICT and digital education at Marino Institute of Education. She has compiled an outstanding bank of resources at padlet.com/ciarareillymarino/primarydistancelearning, including Irish resources.

Physical education:

Go Noodle (gonoodle.com)
Movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts and used widely by teachers who say it is a great opportunity for kids to wake up their bodies, engage their minds and be their best.

Super Troopers (supertroopers.ie)
Super Troopers offers a health homework programme that encourages children and their families to live happier and more active lifestyles.

Stem (science, tech, engineering and maths):

Scratch (scratch.mit.edu)
Learn to program interactive games, stories and animations

Maths, Gaeilge and reading lessons
Teacher Michael O’Connor is posting daily Maths, Gaeilge and reading lessons on for the kids in his class, which might be useful to other 4th, 5th and 6th class kids and their parents: youtu.be/bt4rFdbpGkY


National Geographic Kids (kids.nationalgeographic.com):
Learn about science, geography and history.

Nasa Kids’ Club (nasa.gov/kidsclub/):
Child-friendly resource where kids can learn about science and space.

History, Geography and Science (@RangOrlaith)
Órlaith Ní Fhoghlú is a third class teacher and she has put together activities and resources relating to the history, geography and science curriculum on padlet.com/orlaithnifhoghlu/wqeiqvodvbl4


Search from millions of existing games on any topic such as brain teasers, trivia of all sorts, news quizzes and science.

Sarah Webb’s writing games (@MoLI_Museum)
Award-winning children’s writer Sarah Webb is posting fun writing games and story prompts over on .

Games to help children learn Irish and French in a fun and exciting manner.

Special needs:

SEN Teacher (senteacher.org/)
This site has free special-needs teaching resources and learning materials. Its print tools allow you to create, adapt and share resources.


Dublin Academy (dublinacademy.ie)
The Dublin-based grind school is posting free-to-access classes on over the coming days.

iRevise (irevise.com)
This Irish revision website is providing students with free study resources for a month due to the school closures.

Studyclix (Studyclix.ie)
One of the most popular of Ireland’s study websites, it offers notes, videos and a forum for students preparing for the Junior and Leaving Cert.

Protutor (protutor.ie)
It is running a series of free webinars on Leaving Cert accounting topics aimed at fifth and sixth years next week.

Studynotes (studynotes.ie)
Students and teachers can use the free platform to share their notes and resources.

Founded by three recent school-leavers, who between them got 30 As in the Junior Cert and over 1800 points in the Leaving Cert. Homeschool.ie provides an online grinds service for Leaving and Junior Cycle students.

Individual subjects


Susan Leahy (pancomido.wordpress.com/)
Spanish teacher Susan Leahy has a free website for Spanish teachers and students, with lots of resources for the now-cancelled Leaving Cert orals and the higher-level essay questions.


Stephen Heffernan (@shffnn)
Leaving Cert students can keep themselves fresh by using the Vifax resources from NUI Maynooth where they take a story or two from Nuacht TG4 each week and prepare worksheets on them. vifax.maynoothuniversity.ie

Teacher John Gavin has hosted this website since 2001; it provides a host of updated learning resources relating to Leaving Cert Irish orals and the written exam. There are free daily webinars that anyone can watch live or look back on.


Dr Eoin Ó Donnchadha(@eoinodonnchadha)
History teacher Dr Eoin Ó Donnchadha has compiled a thread on how Junior Cert history students can compile their family tree.

The lives and experiences of women in Waterford’s Magdalene Laundry can be a great case study for history and CSPE students, @AnBurcach (Stephen Bourke) suggests.


Eoin Hughes(@_ehughes_)
Geography teacher Eoin Hughes (@_ehughes_) has compiled Leaving Cert Geography resources here: bit.ly/2TKWCMu and Junior Cert resources here: http://bit.ly/2TR4GeZ

Politics and Society:

PolSocPodcast.com covers all things and is presented by Dr Jerome Devitt, a teacher of Politics & Society, History, and English.


Joyce Mahon's teaching resources Maths teacher Joyce Mahon has compiled Leaving Cert suggestions on jmmaths.weebly.com/


Provides online support and exam preparation for Junior Cert & Leaving Cert maths. Subscription-based, but a free trial is available.


Students of French should check out teacher Natasha Lynch’s excellent resources, which are available on EssentialFrench.ie. Her Snapchat account is particularly popular.


SophiaPhysics.ie has a resources section and is covering topics for Junior and Leaving Cert physics while telling the story of related physicists.


Run by Julian Girdham at St Columba’s College in Rathfarnham, SCCEnglish.ie has lots of resources for post-primary English, and more resources and ideas on JulianGirdham.com

English teacher Aoife O’Driscoll has a free website and has been uploading notes for Junior Cycle and Leaving Cert English on it for over ten years now.


Irish Graphic Teacher
Will Nolan is sharing graphics videos on the IrishGraphicsTeacher channel..com/channel/UCanBKZVzCbgzO-LomL-gp4w


Sheila Flaherty’s art tutorials
Teacher Sheila Flaherty has posted online art tutorials for children at youtu.be/3hSWT86uyxk.

Source: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/home-tuition-our-guide-to-the-best-teaching-and-learning-resources-online-1.4206766

You don’t exist just ‘to be useful’, President tells young philosophers

Teaching children philosophy will prepare them for the digital age, according to the Irish President

Ireland needs to guard against a reengineering of the education system under the assumption that “we exist to be made useful”, President Michael D Higgins has said.

Attending the Irish Young Philosopher Awards 2019 at UCD’s O’Reilly Hall, the President said “talk of a knowledge society and the demand to enable our young people to meet its needs has at times in the discourse on education, come to dominate our view as to the ultimate aim of a secondary school education. We need to be careful”.

Mr Higgins, who has been a strong advocate of teaching philosophy in schools, as well as the retention of history as a core subject in the junior cycle, said “too many policy lobbyists have, often unknowingly, unthinkingly perhaps, accepted a narrow and utilitarian view of… education – one that suggests we exist to be made useful – which leads to a great loss of the capacity to critically evaluate, question and challenge”.

He was speaking before presenting Lauren Doyle (16), a transition year student, Mount Sackville Secondary School, the grand prize – sponsored by Arthur Cox – for her project: “Why is nature beautiful and why do we destroy it?”

“I used Aristotle’s theory of the golden mean to explain how we are unable to find moderation in the modern world,” she said.

While people generally had affection for the natural world we are becoming “less attached” to it and “more heavily dependent on devices that give a distorted view of nature”. This helped to explain “why we destroy what we love”.

This is the second year of the awards – designed as a philosophical alternative to the annual young scientists exhibition. One of the event organisers Dr Danielle Petherbridge of the UCD School of Philosophy, said the number of participants had doubled this year with 350 finalists chosen for Wednesday’s festival.

Aine Frawley (10) and Daily Larkin (10), Scoil Treasa, Firhouse, west Dublin with their project on the meaning of life.

Themes surrounding the environment and technology were popular among entrants – so too ethics and identity under project titles including “Do we need evil to progress?”, “Is there life after death?” and “Would you kill 10 to save one?”

Ella Hales (14), from Cork Educate Together, explored the question “Am I the same person as I was in the past?” for which she erred on the side of answering in the negative.

“When I look at old photos of me I don’t relate to that person; I don’t know what they are thinking or feeling. I only know what I am feeling now,” she said.

First year students from Gonzaga College Dublin Daragh Cahill (14), Eoghan Kelly (13) and Ben Lynch (13) explored the implications of blindness on one’s ethical outlook.

“We choose appearance; it’s human nature. I can’t see any way of stopping it unless you can make yourself blind,” said Daragh.

Ben pointed to the example of the blindfolded statue of “lady justice” which can be found above courthouses. “We should look evidence, not beauty,” he said.

First year students from Gonzaga College Dublin Daragh Cahill (14), Eoghan Kelly (13) and Ben Lynch (13) who explored the implications of blindness on one’s ethical outlook.

Philosophy was introduced as an optional short court under the new junior cycle programme. However, it has been slow to take off amid teething troubles with the second-level curriculum reforms.

Last year just seven schools submitted classroom-based assessments in philosophy but “we expect that to rise significantly this year; this is on an upward trajectory”, said Marelle Rice, a consultant with Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT), the Department of Education body charged with rolling out the reforms.

Several philosophy training courses have been held for teachers, all of them quickly booked out, she added.

Details of new resources for teachers and students undertaking the short course were also unveiled at the festival. The website www.myshortcourse.com/ created by Daniel Mccrea contains 40 “ready to go” lessons for teachers whether or not they have had prior experience in philosophy.

As for the future of the festival, Dr Petherbridge said “we would schools from every county in Ireland taking part” – 19 were represented this year – and also more input from Deis schools in disadvantaged areas where additional supports may be required to ensure philosophy is offered as a subject.

“We have been astounded at how enthusiastic the kids are,” she added. Because of the increase in numbers “we are running room here. We might need a larger venue, or hold it over more than one day”.

Reiterating his support for philosophy in schools, Mr Higgins said: “The neglect of philosophy has had such far reaching consequences, putting limits, even diminishing the learning of so many subjects, thus depriving young people of so much of the enrichment of learning, of what the great philosopher Edward Said called the riches that lie in the interstices between subjects.”

For more details see: https://youngphilosopherawards.ucd.ie/

Source: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/you-don-t-exist-just-to-be-useful-president-tells-young-philosophers-1.3893505

Philosophy can teach children what Google can’t – and Ireland knows it | Charlotte Blease

Teaching children philosophy will prepare them for the digital age, according to the Irish President

At the controls of driverless cars, on the end of the telephone when you call your bank or favourite retailer: we all know the robots are coming, and in many cases are already here.

Back in 2013, economists at Oxford University’s Martin School estimated that in the next 20 years, more than half of all jobs would be substituted by intelligent technology. the prospect of robot-assisted living or hate it, it is foolish to deny that children in school today will enter a vastly different workplace tomorrow – and that’s if they’re lucky.

Far from jobs being brought back from China, futurologists predict that white-collar jobs will be increasingly outsourced to digitisation as well as blue-collar ones.

Philosophy isn’t a cure-all for the world’s current or future woes. But it can build immunity against careless judgments, and unentitled certitude

How should educationalists prepare young people for civic and professional life in a digital age? Luddite hand-wringing won’t do. Redoubling investment in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects won’t solve the problem either: hi-tech training has its imaginative limitations.

In the near future school-leavers will need other skills. In a world where technical expertise is increasingly narrow, the skills and confidence to traverse disciplines will be at a premium.

We will need people who are prepared to ask, and answer, the questions that aren’t Googleable: what are the ethical ramifications of machine automation? What are the political consequences of mass unemployment? How should we distribute wealth in a digitised society? As a society we need to be more philosophically engaged.

Amid the political uncertainties of 2016, the Irish president Michael D Higgins provided a beacon of leadership in this area.

“The teaching of philosophy,” he said in November, “is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal to empower children into acting as free and responsible subjects in an ever more complex, interconnected, and uncertain world.

” Philosophy in the classroom, he emphasised, offers a “path to a humanistic and vibrant democratic culture”.

In 2013, as Ireland struggled with the after-effects of the financial crisis, Higgins launched a nationwide initiative calling for debate about what Ireland valued as a society. The result is that for the first time philosophy was introduced into Irish schools in September.

A new optional course for 12- to 16-year-olds invites young people to reflect on questions that – until now – have been glaringly absent from school curriculums.

In the UK, a network of philosophers and teachers is still lobbying hard for a GCSE equivalent.

And Ireland, a nation that was once deemed “the most Catholic country”, is already exploring reforms to establish philosophy for children as a subject within primary schools.

This expansion of philosophy in the curriculum is something that Higgins and his wife Sabina, a philosophy graduate, have expressly called for. Higgins’ views are ahead of his time.

If educators assume philosophy is pointless, it’s fair to say that most academic philosophers (un, say, mathematicians, or linguists) are still territorial, or ignorant, about the viability of their subject beyond the cloisters.

If educators need to get wise, philosophers need to get over themselves.

Thinking and the desire to understand don’t come naturally – contrary to what Aristotle believed. Un, say, sex and gossip, philosophy is not a universal interest. Bertrand Russell came closer when he said, “Most people would rather die than think; many do.

” While we may all have the capacity for philosophy, it is a capacity that requires training and cultural nudges. If the pursuit of science requires some cognitive scaffolding, as American philosopher Robert McCauley argues, then the same is true of philosophy.

Philosophy is difficult. It encompasses the double demand of strenuous labour under a stern overseer. It requires us to overcome personal biases and pitfalls in reasoning. This necessitates tolerant dialogue, and imagining divergent views while weighing them up.

Philosophy helps kids – and adults – to articulate questions and explore answers not easily drawn out by introspection or . At its best, philosophy puts ideas, not egos, front and centre.

And it is the very fragility – the unnaturalness – of philosophy that requires it to be embedded, not just in schools, but in public spaces.

Philosophy won’t bring back the jobs. It isn’t a cure-all for the world’s current or future woes. But it can build immunity against careless judgments, and unentitled certitude.

Philosophy in our classrooms would better equip us all to perceive and to challenge the conventional wisdoms of our age.

Perhaps it is not surprising that the president of Ireland, a country that was once a sub-theocracy, understands this.

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Source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/09/philosophy-teach-children-schools-ireland