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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 4 - Societal and Educational Context for Curriculum Provision 1922–1971 85


chapter 4 Societal and Educational Context for Curriculum Provision 1922–1971 4.1 Introduction This chapter examines the societal and educational context and milieu in which the curriculum changes introduced in 1922 were devised and imple- mented. First, it analyses key political, social, economic, cultural and reli- gious developments in the period 1922 to 1971. The chapter then addresses the wider educational developments in the period, including a focus on school statistics, the introduction of the Primary Certificate Examination, the provision and management of school buildings and the challenge of providing suitable textbooks. The Irish language was a central element of the school curriculum in the period 1922–1971 and its position, role and impact in wider society is discussed. Owing to the pivotal role of teachers in the process of implementing the curriculum, a special focus is placed on their training and work. The role of the Inspectorate in the inspection and evaluation of schools is delineated. The dearth of educational research and information on the operation of the system is documented. Provision for children with special educational needs is outlined. The chapter concludes by analysing developments in the 1960s and their impact on subsequent curriculum reform. 86 chapter 4 4.2 Societal Context for Curriculum Development 1922–1971 4.2.1 Political Context Following the general election in 1918, the First Dáil sat from 21 January 1919 until 10 May 1921. It is noteworthy that there was no Minister for Education in this First Dáil and that education policy was...

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