ERG SES G 04, History, Immigration and Education
My topic examines the curricular developments in second-level history education in Ireland, during the first few five decades after Independence. It discusses the socio-political and cultural contexts which shaped education in general and ‘History’ in particular, analysing the extent to which this period shaped what emerged in the next few decades. It takes the Intermediate Education (Amendment) Act 1924 and subsequent establishing of the Department of Education, as an anchoring point. This Act marked the transition from the institutional framework of the British system to the institutional and examination framework set up by the Irish state. It looks at the teaching of Irish history from a number of angles, notably what was taught to those who attended post-primary school in the first two generations since Independence, and importantly, for what purpose? It also examines how this history was taught, analysing the major textbooks utilised during this period and their respective portrayals. What biases or ideologies shaped these textbooks; who wrote these works? An often overlooked historiographical element is discussed here, the writing of history texts. Considering the lack of expertise and teacher training at the time, a reliance on textbooks by teachers was commonplace, thus granting more weight to what these texts said and how they said it.
The teaching of history in Ireland was tied up with the (re)discovery of a new Gaelic Nation, in the aftermath of Independence. Furthermore, due to the nature of educational development in the nineteenth centuury and the dominance of the church in eucation , the teaching of history was consequently inflected with linguistic, religious and nationalist overtones, making an academic study of it important for many reasons.
Central research questions include:
- What was the driving ideology behind the teaching of Irish history during this period (if any), and was there a political motive behind the portrayals of second-level Irish history. My work aims to examine the political forces and context which shaped education in general and ‘History’ in particular. I examine the various agendas regarding the teaching of history, from the official, political and religious, and finally academic perspective.
- How did these portrayals change over time, and why? It notes the central role of school history to the chief educational goal of the Department of Education: the policy of Gaelicisation, and the attempt to establish the newly independent Irish nation as a traditional and culturally separate nation in the aftermath of centuries of British rule.
- What impact did European society and culture have in the development of this policy pre- and post-World War II? Did the wider changes occuring across Europe, and the fear of many key figures in Irish society of the the modernisation and perceived materialisation of European society in the post-war years have an impact on school learing? Furthermore, the various conferneces conducted by UNESCO, The Council of Europe and other political and educational bodies on history teaching and textbook production in the post-war years will be used to contextualise the Irish experience as well.
-Rules and Programmes of the Department of Education, (Dublin, 1924-65) -National Archives of Ireland/GAEL/An Gúm files. -Rev. Timothy J. Corcoran, ‘The New Secondary Programmes in Ireland: the teaching of history’, Studies, Vol.12, Issue 46, (June 1923) pp.249-260 -Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann Debates, (Various,) 1924-75 -Council for Cultural Co-operation (CCC), European Curriculum Studies, No.8 History (Strasbourg, 1973) -David Cannadine et al, The Right Kind of History: Teaching History in Twentieth-Century England (London, 2011)
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