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Primary Education in Ireland, 1897-1990

Curriculum and Context


Thomas Walsh

This book critically examines the context, origins, development and implementation of successive primary school curricula in Ireland between 1897 and 1990. It focuses on three particular policy changes during the period: the Revised Programme of Instruction introduced in 1900, the curricular provisions implemented following the achievement of independence in the 1920s and the Primary School Curriculum of 1971. These three eras are distinctive by virtue of their philosophy of education, the content of the curriculum, the methodologies employed and the concept of the child inherent in the curriculum. The author analyses curricular changes within the complex web of wider educational and societal factors that influenced their devising and implementation.
In this way, he locates curricular developments within the climate of thought from which these policies emerged. The philosophy and ideology underpinning successive curricula are examined, along with the successes and shortcomings of curriculum implementation in each period. This historical analysis of the evolution of the primary curriculum in Ireland has much to offer researchers and policymakers in the contemporary context, amid ongoing curriculum development.


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Chapter 1 - Societal and Educational Context for Curriculum Provision 1897–1921 7


chapter 1 Societal and Educational Context for Curriculum Provision 1897–1921 1.1 Introduction This chapter details the broader societal and educational context within which the Revised Programme of Instruction (1900) was devised and imple- mented. This is largely framed in the period 1831 to 1922, representing the timescale within which the national system of education was introduced until the advent of independence, at which time an alternative programme was devised. A particular focus is placed on the later period following 1890, detailing the salient societal events in Ireland that ultimately had an impact on educational provision between 1897 and 1922. This provides a broad understanding of the ef fect that various individuals and groups, and national and international factors, had on the development and implemen- tation of educational policies in Ireland. The key societal features examined are the political, socio-economic, cultural and religious factors that occupied a sphere of inf luence on edu- cation. An analysis of the impact of international inf luences on the devel- opment of the primary school programme is provided as international factors were particularly inf luential considering the position of Ireland as a colonial state of the British Empire. Having established the wider context, a detailed analysis of the education system in Ireland ensues. This provides the context in which the Revised Programme of 1900 was devised, introduced and implemented. 8 chapter 1 1.2 Societal Context for Programme Development 1.2.1 Political Context Ireland entered the nineteenth century in a politically dejected state, whereby from 1801,...

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