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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 6 - Implementation of the Primary School Curriculum 1922–1971 171


chapter 6 Implementation of the Primary School Curriculum 1922–1971 6.1 Introduction This chapter documents the implementation of successive curricula in the period 1922–1971. The implementation of the programmes emanating from the first and Second National Programme Conferences are analysed concurrently as they were devised within a few years of one another and their content did not dif fer significantly. The focus on the Irish language revival within schools throughout the period dominated evaluations of the programme and much of the available documentation emphasises the Irish language, to the neglect of many other aspects of implementation. This chapter draws on available sources such as inspectors’ reports pro- duced between 1925 and 1930 and the annual reports of the Department of Education published until 1964. In addition, organisations such as the INTO conducted research into the programme, most notably a report in 1941 in relation to the use of Irish as a teaching medium and the Plan for Education published in 1947. A number of government commissions and agencies examined curriculum provision at dif ferent times in this period and despite the fact that many of their recommendations were not imple- mented, their reports provide an important barometer for the evolution of thinking regarding curriculum issues. 172 chapter 6 6.2 Reports of the Department of Education and Inspectors’ Reports The annual reports published by the Department of Education in the period from the 1920s to the 1960s are an important source of information on cur- riculum implementation. Between 1925 and...

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