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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 V - Transformative Education:Raising Hope and Igniting Creativity 277


Part V Transformative Education: Raising Hope and Igniting Creativity Aislinn O’Donnell 14 Transformative Education Introduction The very act of writing and speaking about the dynamic of relationships in education makes the world of the learner public. In writing about the process, there is a risk of betrayal and of objectification of participants. To counteract the risk of making something private public, such as is the case in the writing of a chapter about the teaching and learning experience involving the participants in philosophy classes among prisoners, ex-pris- oners and others over the last number of years, an open discussion about the ethical issues and concerns must take place. It is dif ficult to avoid the role of the purportedly objective academic researcher or the writer who mines the lives of others for material. Benevolent as one’s intentions may be, the existential, relational and political damage done by the perception of betrayal may undo the intrinsic goods that arise through shared educa- tional endeavour. The purpose of this collaborative research is to explore the potential for transformative education with people who are marginalised. This chapter draws upon narratives to present the argument for transformative educa- tion in institutions like the Irish prison environment.1 Philosophy is the 1 This conception of transformative education extends and challenges the theories of Jack Mezirow and Paulo Freire which underlie dominant definitions of transforma- tive teaching and learning. See, for example, Jack Mezirow, Edward W. Taylor et al. (2009). Transformative Learning in Practice: Insights from Community,...

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