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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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Conclusion 343


Conclusion This book has provided a detailed examination of the context, develop- ment, content and implementation of successive primary school curricula in Ireland from 1897 to 1990. Comprehensive summaries and conclu- sions have accompanied each chapter and section. These reviewed and analysed the pertinent characteristics of the development and implemen- tation process and examined the impact of the wider societal and edu- cational context during each phase. This concluding chapter is reserved to distil the key learning from this analysis of a century of curriculum development and implementation in Ireland and presents this under three overarching themes. The first theme relates to the impact of wider societal factors on the development and implementation of successive curricula. Second, the radical nature of curriculum change attempted at each juncture is analysed and implications drawn for the contemporary context. The final theme relates to implementation and contains three inter-related sub-themes, namely the insuf ficient focus on implementa- tion during the development phase, the inadequate support for schools and school personnel to introduce reforms and the lack of provision for the systematic and continuous evaluation of implementation. The thematic analysis is also informed by engagement with modern national and international literature on ef fecting educational change, including the work of Fullan, Callan, Sarason, Hargreaves and Sugrue. Individually and collectively, these themes provide not only a review of past experi- ences but af ford insights for the future development and implementa- tion of curricula. 344 Conclusion Impact of Wider Societal Factors Schools exist within a...

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