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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 2 - Planning and Content of the Revised Programme of Instruction (1900) 31


chapter 2 Planning and Content of the Revised Programme of Instruction (1900) 2.1 Introduction Having outlined the societal and educational context for the period 1831– 1922, this chapter examines the process by which the Revised Programme of Instruction (1900) was devised and is framed largely within the period 1896 to 1900. It begins by analysing the process that led to the establishment of the Commission on Manual and Practical Instruction (CMPI). It details the terms of reference of the Commission and the work it undertook to produce its report in 1898. A specific focus is placed on the final report of the Commission in relation to its recommendations for the national school programme, as it formed the basis for the subsequent Revised Programme. The process undertaken to devise the Revised Programme between 1898 and 1900 is traced. The various drafts of the programme, culminating in the pub- lication of the Revised Programme in September 1900, are documented. 2.2 Origins of the Commission on Manual and Practical Instruction (CMPI) There was a widespread acceptance of the need for a reform of the education system by the mid 1890s. The Board of National Education had the imme- diate responsibility for primary education in Ireland and it accepted that 32 chapter 2 a fundamental modification was required. The Commissioners pondered on their responsibility and although they held the power to reform the programme, they concluded that an independent Commission of Enquiry into the primary school programme would carry far greater weight. This was...

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