We met with Dr. Darren Kelley at Trinity College today to gain a better understanding of the rapid transformation that Ireland has undergone in just twenty years. We took a tour through the Docklands and he showed us pictures of the Docklands of what it looked like just 2 decades before. To give you a picture of this time in Dublin, the area had been used in movies to show a city that had been bombed by a world war. Today it is home to some of the biggest companies including Google and Facebook.
Dr. Kelley explained some of the more obvious reasons for the development of Ireland which include the low-income taxes for corporations and American companies coming over due to the ease of the same language and proximity to Europe. He also told us though, that there are many more reasons for the development of Ireland. He says that the Irish education system is very effective because it enables creativity. Another reason I had not thought about is that the Irish people have the most important skill to get be successful in a job– great communication skills.
Creativity is highly regarded in Ireland. Dr. Kelley explained that their education system is specifically for this. They do not have many rules like we’re used in the U.S. He said his students do not get a rubric or specific directions on their papers. He says the American students hate him because they want to have more structure. He used the analogy of a cooking class. In the U.S they give us all of the ingredients and take points off if it’s burnt. But if we follow the directions and bake the lasagne exactly the way instructs us we get an A. If we do anything extra like forming it into the leaning tower of Pisa we would get a lower grade. In Ireland, they do it much differently. They are told to make a dish…that’s it. The results that Irish students produce are many different types of foods with different techniques and extra points for a creative presentation. Dr. Kelley tells us the workforce needs creativity and innovation and the Irish education system prepares students to come up with creative ideas in their careers. We visited Google and we saw how highly they regard creativity and innovation. This emphasis on creativity is shown through Ireland. For example, when we visited Eaton they split us into groups and gave us a vague prompt and told us to brainstorm. When I read the prompt and was confused as to why it was so vague and broad. Throughout schooling in Pittsburgh, I have always been given a rubric and told exactly what to do for each project. I do agree with Dr. Kelley that it is important for the education system to allow for creative thinking.
I’ve mentioned in many of my posts about Ireland that the people here are extremely personable, funny and great to talk to. These soft skills are what sets Irish students apart. Their education also places a huge emphasis on being able to communicate what they’ve learned. At the end of their schooling, they have to explain what they’ve learned from the courses they took years earlier. As Dr. Kelley said if you do not know how to effectively write and explain what you’ve learned all you have is ingredients and therefore you’re not a good cook. Irish people know when to speak and write formally and when to laugh and joke. He explained that Irish people make connections and are sociable as well. I’ve definitely seen this in the short time that I have been in Ireland. Dr. Kelley made some generalization about America but I agree that our education system can be too structured and not put enough importance on communication and creativity.