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New Educational Horizons in Contemporary Ireland

Trends and Challenges


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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Part 1 - Irish Identity 13


Part I Irish Identity Tony Bonfield 1 Exploring the Nature of Irishness within the 1999 Primary Curriculum1 Introduction This chapter attempts to bring a form of discourse analysis to bear on Ireland’s 1999 Primary School Curriculum.2 The key question may be put in the following terms: which concepts of Irish identity are constructed, maintained and advanced within the curriculum documentation? In response, the chapter will place a central importance on elaborating a number of key arguments around the inherent construction of Irishness within the 1999 Primary School Curriculum.3 The development and exposition of the key arguments in this chapter will be preceded by some elaboration on a preliminary, but significant, consideration. Specifically, an initial scrutiny, involving critical analysis of aspects of the discourse, should demonstrate that the curriculum discourse is imbued with a force- ful, imperative quality, in terms of style and textuality. This key under- standing is vital and preliminary to the development of the subsequent exploration. The first key argument is then set out in the following terms. The 1999 curriculum authors, in a very deliberate manner, seek to re-conceptualise 1 An abridged version of this chapter was published in the journal Social Inclusion and Exclusion in Education. Kiefer, S. (ed.) (2010). Linz: State College of Teacher Education, 3: 7–15. 2 Primary School Curriculum. (1999). Dublin: Government Publications. Hereafter referred to as PSC. 3 Ibid. 16 Tony Bonfield the notion of national identity, in a manner ref lective of the qualities of pluralism, tolerance and diversity. This...

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