Don’t worry, there are handouts below!
One of the difficulties that teachers face when it comes to teaching the new ‘Subject Specification’ is that it can be very difficult to work out from reading the ‘Spec’ how deeply we should dive into each sub-heading. Despite having an SEC ‘Sample Paper’ and a couple of past exams to go on, I’m still none the wise in this regard. Some areas are pretty straight forward, but Learning Outcome 2.2 is an example of where it’s almost impossible to tell the depth of study that’s required. Is it designed so they can ask 4 potential short questions for the ‘Ireland’, ‘Northern Ireland’, ‘European Commission’, and ‘Non-Democratic States’, or are students supposed to be able to combine those sub-sections into a broader essay on the powers of the Executive Branch??? (see the full L.O from the spec at the bottom of the page)
Your guess is as good as mine. In previous years, I’ve just touched on the idea as I’ve worked my way through each of the different forms of government. This year, however, I’ve decided to teach it more explicitly. In part this is because it’s a relatively straight-forward part of the course with specific ‘deliverable’ facts that I can communicate clearly in an online classroom. The other reason, is that I want students to be able to incorporate this information into their LO 2.5 Essays (To what extent does the Irish System of Government reflect the ‘will of the people’?). How the Taoiseach and Cabinet are chosen would, surely, be considered relevant to this topic??? Wouldn’t it???
My guess is that for a H1 in one of those essays, students would be expected to engage with the ‘Strengths and Weaknesses’ of the different system to show a critical evaluation of the process in each country. To show a personal engagement, students could also be encouraged to think about possible reforms that they could suggest to improve how our (or another country’s) executive branch is chosen.
So, as is my wont, I made up a ‘classroom-ready’ handout (below) that I include here as a pdf and MS Word Document (so that you can adapt it to your own needs). I’m always afraid that I’m ‘over teaching’ certain aspects of the course, so if you want to refine this handout down to its core elements, be my guest.
So basically, I broke down the 4 areas naed in the spec and added the perspective of the US President because it’s a fairly topical issue right now and the student can use it as a comparative/alternative perspective for lots of different types of essay (governmental or electoral systems). I also chose the ‘Vatican’ as an example of a ‘Non-Democratic’ Executive, which is specifically done to provoke a bit of debate and to tease out the point at which something might be considered to tip over the line between democratic and non-democratic. It also gives a chance to differentiate between an ‘electorate’ and a ‘selectorate’ (which could also apply to how leaders of Irish political parties or primary candidates in America are chosen).
What I intend to do next week is to try and use ‘break out rooms’ with 5 students in each and get one student to become an expert on each area and then present their newly found expertise to the rest of the group. In order to make sure that they’re engaging with each other they’ll have to attempt with the last part of the handout, which is an exercise that tries to give students an opportunity to practice a ‘short-question’ style of answer.
The final way that I’ll check in on the students’ leaning will be a digital quiz. I’ve also done up a self-correcting Google Forms quiz that is tailored specifically to go along with this handout. It adds up to 100 marks, so should be easy to incorporate into a scheme of work. I’ll eventually add it to the ‘Key Thinker Quizzes page’.
What??? You mean this ISN’T how you spend your Friday nights?
Best of luck next week in your Lockdown Teaching. It’s tough going, but hopefully this might make it a tiny bit easier…
P.S. A special thanks to Dr Paddy Mulroe of Our Lady’s Secondary School – Castleblayney, Co.Monaghan for casting his ‘expert eye’ over an early draft of this document. His input, corrections, and suggestions greatly appreciated…! (@PaddyMulroe on Twitter. If you’re not following him, you should be…)