More than 90 per cent of secondary school teachers say some students have disengaged as a result of the move to remote teaching and learning, according to a new survey.
The findings are contained in a poll of more than 1,000 Teachers’ Union of Ireland members, which was carried out last month.
The survey indicates the vast majority of teachers (76 per cent) believe remote learning had a disproportionately negative effect on students from disadvantaged backgrounds, while a similar proportion believe additional supports are needed for 2021-2022 to assist those students who have lost out most.
On a more positive note, most teachers (75 per cent) say student engagement with remote learning was better in 2021 than in 2020.
Most also agree that preparation, provision and associated work involved in providing classes remotely took much more time than face-to-face delivery.
The long-standing issue of pay discrimination has also emerged as a concern given that recession-era pay cuts have not yet been fully restored. A significant proportion (29 per cent) said they did not believe they would be in the profession in 10 years’ time.
However, if pay discrimination were to be fully resolved, 74 per cent believed they would still be in the profession in a decade.
TUI president Martin Marjoram said that although progress had been made in tackling pay inequality, there was still an €80,000 loss in career earnings, with the largest differences in salary in the early years of employment.
Separately, the gulf in access among pupils to digital devices will be a key issue of debate at the annual congress of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation.
The union’s president, Mary Magner, will warn delegates on Tuesday that Irish primary schools are lagging behind our EU neighbours in investing in digital technology to support teaching and learning.
“Too many times during this crisis when our schools were forced to close, did it become apparent that too many families did not have adequate access to digital technology in their homes,” she will tell delegates.
“As we look forward to the rollout of the renewed curriculum later in this decade, the digital agenda must be at the heart of 21st-century Irish primary education.”
Minister for Education Norma Foley has announced the development of a new €200 million digital strategy for schools between now and 2027.
It aims to embed digital technology in teaching, learning and assessment and will take into account the “challenges that have arisen” in recent times.
She has asked anyone with an interest in the area to take part in a new consultation process to help build a “robust and exciting” strategy.
Although access to the Covid-19 vaccine is expected to dominate the annual conference of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), there will be a focus on debates about the Leaving Cert as well as on other issues that could have significant industrial relations implications such as pensions and pay for student teachers.
The highest priority motion for the ASTI conference calls for depth of treatment and range of subject knowledge to be included in the design template of all future Leaving Certificate specifications, including those currently under development.
The ASTI will also hear calls for a return to the pre-2004 public service pension scheme for all teachers, which would include the right to retire at 60.
Separately, Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris is expected to tell TUI delegates that the issue of the future funding of further and third-level education will be dealt with by the current administration.
He will say that, while investment levels have increased, “it is not where it needs to be”.
He is expected to tell delegates the Government will act on the findings of a new report on future funding in the next few months.
It is understood he will tell teachers he wants to see a number of rapid Covid-19 testing pilots across the third-level sector as another weapon in the armoury to allow for greater on-site attendance in the next academic year.
He is also expected to give a commitment to a programme of investment in new technological universities, including expansion of campuses in Waterford.
It is understood he recently received a report from the Higher Education Authority regarding the merger of Athlone IT and Limerick IT, which will be considered in the days ahead.
Six Great Russian-Language Films on YouTube
Are you resisting the urge to set fire to historic structures in downtown Moscow? Are you still stinging from your foray into the world of self-mutilation as protest?
You may be suffering from Poser Rip-Off Artistic Tourette’s (also known as PRAT). Fortunately, for sufferers of PRAT, there is help for your frustrated artistic urges. I’ve compiled a list of some great Russian-Language films available for viewing on the interwebz (with English subs) in their entirety. All of these films are excellent listening practice for those who are learning Russian, or for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in Russian culture and art offerings sans the need for antibiotics.
Downton Abbey what?
For those who like their foreign films with a side of war footage and people sobbing in corsets, I highly recommend Admiral. Taking place during World War I and the October Revolution, and based on real events, Admiral details the tragic love story between the married Aleksandr Kolchak, and the lovely and equally married Russian poet Anna Timiryova. Comparisons to Dr. Zhivago are not without merit, so if you are looking for a romantic movie set against the backdrop of Russian history, and you need a good cry, put this in your YouTube queue. The film stars Konstantin Khabensky as Aleksandr (Night Watch, Day Watch) and Elizaveta Boyarkskaya as Anna. Andrey Kravchuk directs.
Brest Fortress (Брестская крепость)
I have seen Saving Private Ryan. I have seen Letters from Iwo Jima. I’ve seen Schindler’s List. I’m pretty solid on my Hollywood World War II epics. Hands down, Brest Fortress is one of the best World War II movies I have ever seen. This gem hails from Belarus, and details the early days of Operation Barbarossa, as told through the eyes of the orphaned Sasha Akimov.
Sasha and his brother are living at Brest Fortress in Belarus SSR, under the care of the 33rd Rifle Regiment of the Red Army. Sasha plays the euphonium in the regiment band, and nurses a crush on Anya Khizevatova, the daughter of the outpost leader Khizevatov. Sasha’s life centers around the fortress and its inhabitants, until one day in June of 1941, when the fortress comes under attack by the Wehrmacht and Lutfwaffe. The Nazi assault on the Soviet army and citizens is brutal and heart-wrenching, although the surviving Red Army forces manage to hold onto the fort for nine days. The resistance is led by Efim Moiseevich Fomin, who proudly declares to his German executioners that he is all the things they despise: a Red Army commissar, a Communist, and a Jew.
“We are here to save you from the Bolsheviks and Jews. No, for real, you guys. You should totally surrender.&rdquo
Misfits/ Inadequate People (Неадекватные Люди)
Basically, this is a modern-day, less icky, comedic retelling of Lolita, and if anyone is entitled to do an update on Vladimir Nabokov’s cult classic, it is his compatriots. Misfits is probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve included it here for those who might have an outdated view of modern-day Russia.
Ilya Lyubimov stars as Vitaly, a thirtysomething who moves from a rural part of Russia to Moscow after his girlfriend is killed in a car accident. In Moscow, he develops a close, if odd, relationship with his sassy 17-year-old neighbor, Kristina, while having to stave off the advances of his vampy new boss.
Misfits was shot on a budget of about $100,000, raised by writer/director Roman Karimov. It’s a really great piece of independent Russian cinema (Wait! I thought there was no independent media in Russia! I’m confused!)
Olympus Inferno (Олимпиус Инферно)
Every time someone watches this movie, Victoria Nuland has to clap her hands really hard so that Mikhail Sakashvili doesn’t fall down dead.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty accused the film of “pushing the Kremlin’s line” on the Georgian conflict. By “pushing the Kremlin’s line,” they mean “what actually occurred.” Wired called it awesomely bad, but that’s only because Wired is used to made-for-TV movies that involve marine creature-themed weather events, or weird, inaccurate opi starring that one girl from Heroes.
Of course, since Olympus Inferno aired on Russian television, it does take a sympathetic view of the Russian side of the conflict. However, if one does look into the actual facts behind the Georgian war, it is easy to see that, although there was tension mounting on both sides, Georgian forces were responsible for attacking South Ossetia.
The story follows Michael Orraya, an American entomologist who is studying butterflies, and a former classmate, a young Russian woman named Zhenya, who is working as a journalist. They develop a close relationship, but are caught up in the chaos of the Georgian war.
“What can we do? The Georgian president only wants to live in gentrified neighborhoods, like Brooklyn.”
Russian Ark (Русский ковчег)
I really like this movie. Granted, I am probably distracted by the fancy costumes.
A disembodied voice guides the viewer through the dream-like quality of Russian Ark. The narrator is in conversation with “the European,” symbolized by the Marquis de Custine, this super racist 18th century travel writer. His travelogue, La Russie en 1839, decries the “backwardness” of the Russian Orthodox church, and the “Asian” overlay to the society and culture. (La Russie en 1839 was later published as an illustrated collection of bedtime stories for U.S. State Department employees.)
Directed by Aleksandr Sokurov, we are taken on a tour of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the “ark” of Russian culture, with cameo appearances by Catherine II and Peter the Great. Gorgeous cinematography and high production values certainly helped this 2002 film win a nomination for the Palme d’Or at Cannes and a Visions Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Russian Ark is also available on Netflix streaming, but for the poor unfortunates who do not have Netflix, and thus are also robbed of the Pussy Riot documentary, there is YouTube.
The Return (Возвращение)
Remember everyone in Hollywood falling all over themselves to praise Andrey Zvyagintsev for Leviathan because he bravely portrayed today’s Russia as a bleak and hopeless wasteland? Well, it actually turns out that bleak is sort of his oeuvre. Like Leviathan, The Return received widespread critical acclaim when it was released internationally in 2004. Although Hollywood acknowledged the film with a Golden Globe nomination, there was no obsequious praise for Zyvaginitsev’s earlier offering.
The plot centers on two boys, Andrei and Ivan, who are reunited with their father after his mysterious twelve-year absence. Their mother reluctantly allows the boys to go on a road trip with their father through the Russian wilderness, and the tension between Ivan and his father mounts to a tragic conclusion.
The Return is driven by the subtle, yet effective, performances by the film’s two young actors, Vladimir Garin (Andrei) and Ivan Dobronravov (Ivan). Desolately beautiful Russian landscapes add to Zyvangintsev’s gray-blue palette and the overall meditative quality of the piece.
Of course, there are many Russian films available on YouTube that I have not listed here. These are a few that I have seen and enjoyed, and I hope you enjoy them as well.
Remember, If you or a loved one is experiencing PRAT, don’t suffer in silence. There is help.
Unless you are a pyromaniac exhibitionist. In that case, there is probably a selfie with Hillary Clinton in your future.
Irish Times poll lays bare pandemic’s impact on political landscape
Sinn Féin is on top again, with its highest-ever rating in an Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll of support for the parties. Our latest such poll shows Sinn Féin on 31 per cent (up three points), ahead of Fine Gael, which has slipped three points to 27 per cent.
Fianna Fáil remains some way adrift of Sinn Féin and Fine Gael, although it has closed the gap considerably in this June poll, jumping six points to 20 per cent. The Green Party (on 6 per cent) and Labour (on 3 per cent) are unchanged. Independents and smaller parties combined attract 13 per cent of the vote (down six points). Within this bloc are People Before Profit/Solidarity (on 2 per cent) and Social Democrats (on 2 per cent).
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Six Great Russian-Language Films on YouTube
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