History, Identity and the School Curriculum in Northern Ireland: An Empirical Study of Secondary Students’ Ideas and Perspectives

K.C. Barton, A.W. McCully

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    92 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This study reports results of an empirical investigation of secondary students’ conceptions of history and identity in Northern Ireland. Interviews with 253 students from a variety of backgrounds indicate that they initially identify with a wide range of historical themes, but that these identifications narrow as they study the required national curriculum during the first three years of secondary school. Often, they draw selectively from the formal curriculum in order to support their developing identification with the history of their own political/religious communities. This process is most apparent among boys, at predominantly Protestant schools, and in schools located in areas of conflict. These findings suggest that in order to address history’s role in ongoing community conflict, educators may need to challenge more directly the beliefs and assumptions held by students of varied backgrounds, as well as to provide a clearer alternative to the partisan histories encountered elsewhere.
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages85-116
    JournalJournal of Curriculum Studies
    Volume37
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

    Fingerprint

    curriculum
    history
    school
    interpretation of history
    religious community
    student
    secondary school
    educator
    interview
    community

    Keywords

    • History Teaching
    • Identity
    • Formal / Informal Learning
    • Northern Ireland
    • Education and Conflict
    • Divided Societies

    Cite this

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    title = "History, Identity and the School Curriculum in Northern Ireland: An Empirical Study of Secondary Students’ Ideas and Perspectives",
    abstract = "This study reports results of an empirical investigation of secondary students’ conceptions of history and identity in Northern Ireland. Interviews with 253 students from a variety of backgrounds indicate that they initially identify with a wide range of historical themes, but that these identifications narrow as they study the required national curriculum during the first three years of secondary school. Often, they draw selectively from the formal curriculum in order to support their developing identification with the history of their own political/religious communities. This process is most apparent among boys, at predominantly Protestant schools, and in schools located in areas of conflict. These findings suggest that in order to address history’s role in ongoing community conflict, educators may need to challenge more directly the beliefs and assumptions held by students of varied backgrounds, as well as to provide a clearer alternative to the partisan histories encountered elsewhere.",
    keywords = "History Teaching, Identity, Formal / Informal Learning, Northern Ireland, Education and Conflict, Divided Societies",
    author = "K.C. Barton and A.W. McCully",
    note = "Reference text: Barton, K. C. (2001a). A sociocultural perspective on children’s understanding of historical change: Comparative findings from Northern Ireland and the United States. American Educational Research Journal, 38, 881-913. Barton, K. C. (2001b). “You’d be wanting to know about the past’: Social contexts of children’s historical understanding in Northern Ireland and the United States. Comparative Education 37, 89-106. Barton, K. C., & Levstik, L. S. (1998). “It wasn’t a good part of history”: Ambiguity and identity in middle grade students’ judgments of historical significance. Teachers College Record, 99, 478-513. Barton, K. C., & Levstik, L. S. (2004). Teaching history for the common good. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Barton, K. C., & McCully, A. W. (2005). History, identity, and the school curriculum in Northern Ireland: An empirical study of secondary students’ ideas and perspectives. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 37, 85-116. Barton, K. C., McCully, A. W., & Conway, M. (2003). History education and national Identity in Northern Ireland. International Journal of Historical Learning, Teaching and Research, 3. Journal online at http://www.ex.ac.uk/historyresource/journalstart.htm Brophy, J., & VanSledright, B. (1997). Teaching and learning history in elementary schools. New York: Teachers College Press. Buckley, A. D., & Kenney, M. C. (1995). Negotiating identity: Rhetoric, metaphor, and social drama in Northern Ireland. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. Cole, M. (1998). Cultural psychology: A once and future discipline. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Department of Education, Northern Ireland. (1996). The Northern Ireland curriculum, key stages 3 and 4: Programmes of study and attainment targets. Belfast, Northern Ireland: Department of Education, Northern Ireland. Epstein, T. (1998). Deconstructing differences in African-American and European-American Adolescents’ perspectives on U. S. history. Curriculum Inquiry, 28, 397-423. Epstein, T .(2000). Adolescents’ perspectives on racial diversity in U.S. history: Case studies from an urban classroom. American Educational Research Journal, 37, 185-214. Jarman, N. (1998). Material conflicts: Parades and visual displays in Northern Ireland. New York: Berg. Kitson, A. (in press). History education and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. In E. A. Cole, Teaching the difficult past: Violence, reconciliation and history education. Levstik, L. S., & Barton, K. C. (1996). “They still use some of their past”: Historical salience in children’s chronological thinking. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 28, 531-576. McBride, I. (1997). The Siege of Derry in Ulster Protestant mythology. Dublin: Four Courts Press. McCully, A., & Pilgrim, N. (2004). “They took Ireland away from us and we’ve got to fight to get it back’: Using fictional characters to explore the relationship between historical interpretation and contemporary attitudes. Teaching History, 114, 17-21. McCully, A., Pilgrim, N., Sutherland, A., & McMinn, T. (2002). “Don’t worry Mr. Trimble, we can handle it”: Balancing the rational and emotional in the teaching of contentious topics. Teaching History, 105, 6-12. Seixas, P. (1993). Historical understanding among adolescents in a multicultural setting. Curriculum Inquiry, 23, 301–327. VanSledright, B. A. (1997). And Santayana lives on: Students’ views on the purposes for studying American history. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 29, 529-557. Walker, B. M. (1996). Dancing to history’s tune: History, myth, and politics in Ireland. Belfast, Northern Ireland: Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University of Belfast. Wertsch, J. V. (1998). Mind as action. New York: Oxford University Press. Wertsch, J. V. (2002). Voices of collective remembering. New York: Cambridge University Press.",
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    History, Identity and the School Curriculum in Northern Ireland: An Empirical Study of Secondary Students’ Ideas and Perspectives. / Barton, K.C.; McCully, A.W.

    In: Journal of Curriculum Studies, Vol. 37, No. 1, 2005, p. 85-116.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    N1 - Reference text: Barton, K. C. (2001a). A sociocultural perspective on children’s understanding of historical change: Comparative findings from Northern Ireland and the United States. American Educational Research Journal, 38, 881-913. Barton, K. C. (2001b). “You’d be wanting to know about the past’: Social contexts of children’s historical understanding in Northern Ireland and the United States. Comparative Education 37, 89-106. Barton, K. C., & Levstik, L. S. (1998). “It wasn’t a good part of history”: Ambiguity and identity in middle grade students’ judgments of historical significance. Teachers College Record, 99, 478-513. Barton, K. C., & Levstik, L. S. (2004). Teaching history for the common good. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Barton, K. C., & McCully, A. W. (2005). History, identity, and the school curriculum in Northern Ireland: An empirical study of secondary students’ ideas and perspectives. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 37, 85-116. Barton, K. C., McCully, A. W., & Conway, M. (2003). History education and national Identity in Northern Ireland. International Journal of Historical Learning, Teaching and Research, 3. Journal online at http://www.ex.ac.uk/historyresource/journalstart.htm Brophy, J., & VanSledright, B. (1997). Teaching and learning history in elementary schools. New York: Teachers College Press. Buckley, A. D., & Kenney, M. C. (1995). Negotiating identity: Rhetoric, metaphor, and social drama in Northern Ireland. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. Cole, M. (1998). Cultural psychology: A once and future discipline. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Department of Education, Northern Ireland. (1996). The Northern Ireland curriculum, key stages 3 and 4: Programmes of study and attainment targets. Belfast, Northern Ireland: Department of Education, Northern Ireland. Epstein, T. (1998). Deconstructing differences in African-American and European-American Adolescents’ perspectives on U. S. history. Curriculum Inquiry, 28, 397-423. Epstein, T .(2000). Adolescents’ perspectives on racial diversity in U.S. history: Case studies from an urban classroom. American Educational Research Journal, 37, 185-214. Jarman, N. (1998). Material conflicts: Parades and visual displays in Northern Ireland. New York: Berg. Kitson, A. (in press). History education and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. In E. A. Cole, Teaching the difficult past: Violence, reconciliation and history education. Levstik, L. S., & Barton, K. C. (1996). “They still use some of their past”: Historical salience in children’s chronological thinking. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 28, 531-576. McBride, I. (1997). The Siege of Derry in Ulster Protestant mythology. Dublin: Four Courts Press. McCully, A., & Pilgrim, N. (2004). “They took Ireland away from us and we’ve got to fight to get it back’: Using fictional characters to explore the relationship between historical interpretation and contemporary attitudes. Teaching History, 114, 17-21. McCully, A., Pilgrim, N., Sutherland, A., & McMinn, T. (2002). “Don’t worry Mr. Trimble, we can handle it”: Balancing the rational and emotional in the teaching of contentious topics. Teaching History, 105, 6-12. Seixas, P. (1993). Historical understanding among adolescents in a multicultural setting. Curriculum Inquiry, 23, 301–327. VanSledright, B. A. (1997). And Santayana lives on: Students’ views on the purposes for studying American history. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 29, 529-557. Walker, B. M. (1996). Dancing to history’s tune: History, myth, and politics in Ireland. Belfast, Northern Ireland: Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University of Belfast. Wertsch, J. V. (1998). Mind as action. New York: Oxford University Press. Wertsch, J. V. (2002). Voices of collective remembering. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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