One of the interesting things I have learned since I moved north of the border ten years ago is how History is taught, or rather not taught, in the schools here.
The commemorations around the centenary of the 1916 rising have brought into vivid focus that there is a lack of knowledge regarding the events of that time among many in this part of the island. This fact startled me, particularly as those events were pivotal to the existence of the northern six county statelet.
I am told that the history of that period is taught exclusively through the prism of the great war of 1914-1918. I may be wrong but I am yet to be contradicted.
Having been taught my history in a Christian Brothers school in Dublin, I grew up with a strong sense of our place in the world and how our own narrative fitted within the context of the wider events taking place during the first quarter of the last century.
Chris Donnelly recently was the recipient of unionist “outrage” for teaching his students the facts of the events, in Ireland, 100 years ago. I wonder what they fear?
British educational policy in Ireland has evolved from the penal laws where our language, culture and (of course) history were forbidden as subjects for learning, to a rather more subtle shaping of a curricular agenda.
Why? I am inclined to think the intended result is the same.
This of course leads us onto the integrated education argument. Let me be clear as to where I stand on this. I am all for integrated education when it gives equal weight to all perspectives, historically, culturally and with regard to the wider curriculum.
I would particularly like to see the Leaving certificate available to students here.
It is often conveniently forgotten that without the Catholic educational system, generations here would have received no education whatsoever. We are, all of us, in the debt of those who provided that service for free over many years.
On a personal note, on this the week before Easter 2016, I am very proud of the fact that, although my surname is not a common one, five of my wider family were on active service that week including two women.