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April 6, 2007

Learning About the Past: Where history isn't bunk

The Economist:

Across the world, approaches to teaching children about their nation's past are hotly contested—especially at times of wider debate on national identity.

IF THE past is a foreign country, the version that used to be taught in Irish schools had a simple landscape. For 750 years after the first invasion by an English king, Ireland suffered oppression. Then at Easter 1916, her brave sons rose against the tyrant; their leaders were shot but their cause prevailed, and Ireland (or 26 of her 32 counties) lived happily ever after.

Awkward episodes, like the conflict between rival Irish nationalist groups in 1922-23, were airbrushed away. “The civil war was just an embarrassment, it was hardly mentioned,” says Jimmy Joyce, who went to school in Dublin in the 1950s.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at April 6, 2007 5:26 AM
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