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New Educational Horizons in Contemporary Ireland

Trends and Challenges

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Edited By Thomas Grenham and Patricia Kieran

Ireland is in the grip of a postmodern cultural deconstruction on many levels. The traditional ‘grand narratives’ are increasingly viewed with suspicion and disenchantment as Ireland struggles to understand its evolving identity. There is a growing need for comprehensive interdisciplinary research that will facilitate teaching and learning in this rapidly changing cultural and societal context.
This book brings a fresh approach to Irish educational debates, in which qualified educational specialists engage collaboratively in interdisciplinary reflection on their own teaching and learning. The volume addresses a multiplicity of key issues in Irish education (with a particular focus on the primary sector), including teacher formation, curriculum development, teaching and learning methods, educational policy, philosophy, history, religious education, ethics, special needs education and transformative education. The book aims both to critique new educational policy and practice and to identify the key challenges in providing innovative, imaginative and cutting-edge teaching and learning in contemporary Irish schools.

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Thomas G. Grenham - Introduction: The Changing Face of Ireland and New Educational Horizons 1

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Thomas G. Grenham Introduction: The Changing Face of Ireland and New Educational Horizons Motivation Ireland as a nation-state is changing rapidly. It has always known plural- ism and diversity. In its long history it has experienced various outside inf luences such as invasions, economic trade, Christianity and colonisa- tion. In recent centuries, this plurality may not always have been very obvious to Irish people, because of a tendency to homogenise the popula- tion according to particular ‘grand’ narratives such as Catholicism, Gaelic sport, heterosexuality, gender roles, white ethnicity and so on. Cultural, religious and sexual orientation, gender and secular dif ferences were some- how coerced to melt into these recognised authoritative and organising narratives. However, in the latter half of the twentieth century and the early twenty-first century, these organising narratives have been chal- lenged. For example, in relation to moving beyond a mono perception of sexual orientation, the first same-sex civil partnerships were granted legal status in 2011. This arrangement has implications for same-sex partners being treated as equals when it comes to tax issues and the inheritance of property. In relation to gender roles, great strides were made for gender equality by the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, which still inf luences the way gender and gender roles are perceived today. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in recent years experienced change in its own perceptions of Irishness when its leaders saw fit to allow non-Gaelic sports such as soccer and rugby to be played...

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