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 journalArticlepeer-review

    143 Citations (Scopus)


    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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)85-116
    JournalJournal of Curriculum Studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2005

    Bibliographical note

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


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