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A Different View

Books offer a sort of bliss that e-readers can only envy

Dave O'Connell

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Spirit of Christmas...Pupils from Scoil an Chroi Naofa NS in Ballinasloe who organised a Christmas Shoe box appeal for children in the Third World, putting together a total of 91 boxes.

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The book retailer Waterstone’s recently decided to stop selling Kindle e-readers and replace them with traditional books after a big fall-off in sales of the devices.

And that’s great news for nosey parkers as well as book publishers.

Because there’s no point snooping around someone’s house to see what their literary influences are if everything they read is stored on an electronic device the size of, well, one small book.

It used to be that you could find out so much about a person by the books they read, the music they listened to and the television programmes they sat down to watch.

Then came the e-reader, the iPod and the world of Netflix – and no longer was there any tangible evidence of the things that floated their boat.

I’ve bought into most of the technology myself, but I try to alternate between a printed book and an electronic one.

I still buy music even if it’s not as much as before and I still tend to think of a box set as an actual thing as opposed to a folder on the Sky+ box.

Perhaps it’s being older; you need to own the book, the album, the DVD – a younger generation, with far more sense, only wants to know where to access it without having it filling up their space.

And while we’ll never go back to the pre-digital days, you can see that the few music stores we have left all have a vinyl section to cater for growing demand.

Book stores might be thinner on the ground too, but those that are still here would seem to be thriving, offering a greater range and diversity than ever before.

And there has always been something about an actual book that makes it more than simply a set of pages that makes up a story.

Opening a book and turning the pages somehow lifts the wear and tear of the day from your shoulders and allows you to wallow in someone else’s words and imagination.

It needs a big armchair, a reading light and – depending on the time of day or night – a nice coffee or glass of something stronger.

Reading a book is an event in itself, a sensory experience, whereas the Kindle is just another electronic device.

Not that the Kindle – or any e-reader – doesn’t have its advantages; if you’re an avid reader on holidays, one small electronic device can hold more books than a small library.

And the pages don’t get soaked by the side of the pool – although if it slips into the water or onto the tiles, it’s a lot more expensive to replace than a single book.

Waterstone’s found that print sales rose by close on per cent in the year to September, accounting for almost €1billion in revenue.

Sale of the Kindle haven’t stood still either, but unlike the Apple gurus Amazon don’t seem as hell-bent on coming up with a new one every six months – and that makes Kindle a victim of its own success, because the first one you buy can last for years.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Exam points are not the only measure of education success

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

By now, the next batch of around 60,000 students set for third-level education are over a week into the Leaving Cert – the exam that will determine what course they attain a place in for the new academic year.

Their success – added to the performances of their class-mates – will determine their alma mater’s position in what are commonly known as the school league tables.

This is a calculation of how successful a secondary school is, based entirely on the number of its Leaving Certs it gets into third-level education.

In turn – based on this – parents will choose where to send their little bundles of joy when the time comes for them to make the transition from primary to second-level.

And it’s such an arbitrary method of determining the relative success or failure of a centre of education, because it leaves so much out of the equation.

Firstly, it means performance is entirely based on the numbers who go on to third-level, ignoring those who gain apprenticeships or go straight into the workplace.

Admittedly, that’s not a large cohort these days because Careers Guidance seems to begin and end with helping you to choose the right course, not the right career.

But more fundamentally, getting a good student to pass his or her exams and gain a place in college isn’t the ultimate test of a teacher; getting a student who is struggling with reading or writing to a level where they comfortably do both is a far better achievement for any teacher.

Bringing a student who is in danger of failing mathematics, for example, to a position where they pass their exams – but more importantly understand how it works – should be recognised in any measure of performance.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

How will we acclimatise as we ease out of Covid?

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Back in the world before Covid, a mention of Corona either brought to mind a beer or a rock band – but, as we ease our way out of dire straits (another rock band, as luck would have it), we might require a different kind of acclimatisation.

Because what will the evening be like when no more deaths are flashed up as a statistic on the Six-One News?

Who will the world turn to if we have no more Fergal or George or Zara giving out the daily update in a funereal tone?

What will happen to all the people who used to go to the Department of Health press conference at tea-time in the same way the rest of us once headed for the pub?

Like Pavlov’s Dog, we’ve come to expect an evening illness update, taking consolation in it being two less than yesterday or taking fright if it’s two more.

Nobody told us who these poor people were, unless the local paper carried a tribute a week later – for the number crunchers and bean counters and prophets of doom, they were today’s statistics, to be flashed up for a few seconds every night.

And we took these figures as we got them, never questioning if a person died from Covid or with Covid; if they were described as having ‘underlying conditions’, we seemed to accept that as a very broad church.

We listened intently as Fergal or George or Zara told us what the mean age was, breathing a small sigh of relief if it remained a good distance into the future from our own age now.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

Home ownership should be a prerogative – not a pipedream

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Half of our 18 to 34-year-olds fear they won’t be able to buy a home in next ten years, according to a new survey. That’s not the shock – it’s the fact that half of them think they actually will.

Because the truth is that owning your own home hasn’t been as much of a pipedream since the days of feudal landlords; indeed many of them will find it a job and a half to even come up with the rent.

And that’s a sign of just how critical our housing crisis has become in the space of a single generation.

We thought that things were bad in the eighties when unemployment levels were way ahead of our pre-Covid figures; when the boat and the plane were the best 0or maybe only – chance for many to secure a job far from home.

But for those who were working, owning a home wasn’t a farfetched concept at all, because there were plenty of starter homes being built and the cost of them still bore some relation to your income.

There was a time before that, when the bank had a simple equation to decide the size of the mortgage they’d give you. It was two and a half times the combined salary for those buying the house – in other words, yours alone if you were a sole purchaser, or double that if it was yourself and your partner.

On top of that, there was no point turning up in the first place unless you had a ten per cent deposit – so it was a straight-forward calculation to find out what you could afford. And house prices, for the most part, kept within that equation.

Of course there were always homes you coveted and couldn’t afford, but you could still buy a roof over your head for a price that only took 20 years to pay back.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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