How Irish schools confuse the American system

20 Aug

Today’s fun was going to the high school to pick out courses for the boys.

And by “fun”, I mean “I wished I was able to get coffee first.”

We were rushed for time, which didn’t help.  I brought the paperwork we had from the Irish school…

…let me back up…

Before the school year ended, I called the boys Irish school and asked for transcripts, as we were moving.  The secretary said “What do you mean transcripts?”

“Um, their records?”

“Well you should have gotten their grades, do you not have those?”

“Yes, but any other paperwork from the school…Americans like paperwork…”

“Oh, I’m not sure, here, I’ll put you through to the deputy principal, you can leave a message for him…”

So what I have in terms of “records” are end of year exam grades, Collin’s Junior Certificate certificate with exam scores, and his completion of Transition Year certificate.  Plus two letters of recommendation, one for each boy.

Needless to say, the American School System is NOT impressed with the Irish School System’s lack of paperwork.

So today, we got to confuse someone new with our lack of paperwork, with the added fun of lack of course breakdown.

It went like this –

School Counselor (SC) – “So! What math did you take?”

Sean – “Maths.”

SC – “Yes, but which course?  Algebra?  Geometry?”

Sean – “It was all called “Maths”.”

Me – “Collin, explain Maths.”

Then there was science.

SC – “Which science did you take?”

Collin stepped in for this one, as Sean was looking a bit shell-shocked from all the choices he had to make – “It was just General Sciences.”

SC – “So was it biology…chemistry…”

Collin – “Just general science.”

Then things got a bit more tricky due to lack of Formal Records, US Style.

SC – “Did you take PE?”

Boys – “Yes.”

SC – “How many credit hours?”


SC – “Did they have credit hours?”

Me – “No…they don’t do credit hours there…”

SC – “What about the transcripts, what do they say?”

Me – “They don’t really do transcripts.”

SC – “Well what DID they give you?”

Me – hands over grades and letters.

SC – “Well, you guys will have to take extra PE since there’s no record of credit hours.”

Poor boys – all that rugby and hurling for nothing.

Thank goodness we could prove that Collin did two years of French at least.  He could have done more French, but at that point, we were all a bit rushed and the boys were completely overwhelmed with the whole course selection thing and the school counselor had to run to a staff meeting…

We’ll see how this goes.  The school counselor mentioned we could straighten out all the Irish stuff with someone else.

I shall make sure I bring coffee to THAT meeting.


PS – I just want to note that the school counselor was nice and friendly and doing her best to make sense of things.  But I’m pretty sure we overwhelmed her as much as we were overwhelmed. 


16 Responses to “How Irish schools confuse the American system”

  1. saracvt August 20, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    When I read the title, my first thought was literally, “EVERYTHING confuses the American system.” I don’t know if coffee will help. Valium might.

    • phoebz4 August 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

      for me or for them? LOL! I think the poor woman needed an Advil after experiencing us.

  2. Jessica August 20, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    Or wine. If not wine, bring cognac. Cognac is supposedly medicinal.

    • phoebz4 August 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

      or whiskey in a flask…I hear Guinness makes everything better…

      • Jessica August 20, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

        under these circumstances, any alcoholic beverage will do 🙂

  3. Millie August 20, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    Irish coffee.

  4. Ruth August 20, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    Bring her a little bottle of Baileys and say, “This is how things got done there.” See if the boys schedule problems become non-issues.

  5. Renee Anne August 20, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

    Frankly, if the schools here are so damn worried about what kinds of classes they took, perhaps they should make them sit for tests. Americans love tests that don’t mean squat.

    Why yes, I’m a disenfranchised teacher. How did you guess?

    • phoebz4 August 20, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

      LOL! They already have to do a summer reading assignment….OR ELSE.

  6. Lori-Anne August 20, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

    What a Gong Show!!!! I like Renee Anne’s suggestion. LOL! I was thinking along the same lines, but I was thinking that maybe they should just put these boys into some classes and see how they do. I’m sure that there are going to be a few things that they’ve covered in Ireland already that the classes are just doing now. As well as them being maybe a bit behind in a few things. Phew!

  7. Mary Painter August 20, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

    So familiar. We had a child return to the US from Australian high school. She moved back for year 12, so that getting into University would be easier. Ha! We had one hurdle when she started back into high school then a year later, went through it all again with the University. Same deal, what is Maths? What do you mean they didn’t offer Spanish? Then there was a science nightmare. Transcripts? What are those? Oh, well there isn’t a document like that. It doesn’t exist. Finally a review panel looked over what she had, and after pulling the “older sister attended this University” card, she got in with just a couple weeks to spare. Nightmare! Save everything you have from their High School and check with prospective Universities well in advance to make sure you won’t have a headache round 2!

  8. Ginny August 20, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    you are my hero

  9. dickdastardlyfra9156 August 21, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    For the next session / round of ‘negotiations’ or ‘cultural exchange’ between education systems – Try and Google “Junior Certificate Science Syllabus” or Maths, Geography, English etc. you should identify pdf links to the Dept of Education (Irl) docs., a print of the Syllabus will give the school an in-depth understanding of the what was covered on the course, in the school.

    If you can print them out – then you can smother them with the paperwork they crave so much. like most things in life that centre around information – its’ all out there, its’ knowing where to look.!

    Good luck with the next round of ‘encounters’

    • phoebz4 August 21, 2013 at 11:49 am #

      that is MOST helpful! Thanks!

  10. Serena August 21, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    As per the comment above, the curricula all have a set amount of hours.

    Here’s the PE one:

    Page 9 (13th page of document) says “This syllabus is developed on the basis of a time
    allocation of two hours per week.”

    I’m sure they can work out what that amounts to in credit hours!

  11. Michaela G August 21, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    This was a great post! I had a great laugh and my sides hurt. We are doing the opposite right now moving to Ireland for a year from the US.

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