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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 III - Policy and Practice 155


Part III Policy and Practice Tony Lyons 8 Compulsory School Attendance Legislation in Ireland 1892–2000 Introduction Schooling, as we understand it in the twenty-first century, is a relatively new concept. There are those who would class schooling as a form of incarcera- tion. This is not surprising when the practice of sending children from their family home to a strange building for five or six hours a day is considered. Not only is the building strange, but initially all the people in the build- ing are strangers, both children and adults. This peculiar practice began in the Western world about 200 years ago. For a variety of reasons – some religious, some economic, some political – children were incrementally ushered forth to these places of partial incarceration. Later in the nineteenth century there emerged government involvement in the provision of such schooling. Initially, it was the various church organisations that provided schooling on a voluntary basis. Later, individual MPs pressed for legisla- tion regarding school attendance. Compulsory attendance at school was an entirely new concept. Compulsion led to discord and various groups, in a climate that accepted child labour, found the notion of compulsory school attendance repugnant. To this end there was much travail within the ef forts to introduce compulsory attendance at school in Victorian Ireland. On the one hand, school attendance is still a problematic issue within certain realms of Irish society today. However, on the other hand, there is an emerging trend among some disadvantaged sections of Irish...

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