The Development of Infant Education in Ireland, 1838-1948

Epochs and Eras

by Maura O'Connor (Author)
©2011 Monographs XXIV, 301 Pages
Series: Rethinking Education, Volume 4


Winner of the Kevin Brehony Book Prize, awarded by the History of Education Society (UK)
This is the first published historical analysis of the development of infant education in Ireland. It spans the period from the opening of the Model Infant School in Marlborough Street, Dublin, in 1838 to the introduction of the child-centred curriculum for infant classes in 1948. A study of early childhood education in Ireland in this period provides an understanding of how the child, childhood and the early years of school were viewed by society. Child-centredness had become a feature of educational practice in Europe in the early eighteenth century and was developed further by Rousseau, Pestalozzi and Froebel. How it manifested itself in schools in Ireland is critically explored in the book through an examination of key reports, as well as through new original primary source material not previously in the public domain. The curricular content, pedagogical approaches and organisation of infant schooling reveal much about the attitudes of those in authority to the youngest children and their educational needs. Interviews with kindergarten advisors, national (primary) school inspectors, lecturers on early childhood education, teachers of infants, and adults who were students in the early decades of the twentieth century provide further insights and enhance our understanding of policies and practices of the time.


XXIV, 301
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2011 (March)
child-centred curriculum early childhood education Rousseau, Pestalozzi and Froebel infant education in Ireland
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2010. XXIV, 301 pp., num. ill., tables and graphs

Biographical notes

Maura O'Connor (Author)

Maura O’Connor is a Lecturer in Education in St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Dublin, where she specialises in Early Childhood Education. She has worked as a primary school teacher and school principal. She has written numerous articles on early childhood and care in Ireland and has presented at several national and international conferences. Her research interests include early years teaching and learning, the history of education in Ireland and childhood studies.


Title: The Development of Infant Education in Ireland, 1838-1948