Speak Your Piece. Exploring Controversial Issues. A Guide for Teachers, Youth and Community Workers

Alan Smith, Alan McCully, Marian O'Doherty, Paul Smyth, Una O'Connor

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Speak Your Piece originated alongside the Channel 4 television series as a research and development project based at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. It was founded on the principle that educators have a positive contribution to make in helping young people engage with controversial social, cultural, religious and political issues by: - enabling dialogue which is forthright and inclusive - providing alternatives to violence and avoidance as a means of resolving conflict - facilitating participatory decision-making which encourages democratic processes To support those working with the programmes 20 youth and community workers and teachers from 20 schools were involved in a pilot phase of the project. The pilot phase was concerned with the development of methods and processes for handling controversial issues. The work of the project supported the cross curricular themes of Education for Mutual Understanding and Cultural Heritage. The project encouraged an appreciation of the shared and distinct characteristics of cultural traditions in Northern Ireland and provided opportunities for the exploration of controversial social and political issues. Teachers of English, History, Religious Education and Personal and Social Education were actively involved in the developmental work. The project also supported community relations work within the Northern Ireland Youth Services. It had particular significance for those working with young people on issues of human rights, democracy, justice and conflict resolution. Beyond Northern Ireland the project was relevant for Irish studies, for the themes of Citizenship and Community Understanding in England and Wales and for the Civic, Social and Political Education programme in the Republic of Ireland. Speak Your Piece was funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the Department of Education for Northern Ireland and the Youth Council for Northern Ireland in partnership with the University of Ulster, Ulster Television and Channel 4 Schools.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationUTV
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1996
EventTelevision Series - Northern Ireland
Duration: 1 Jan 19951 Jan 2000

Bibliographical note

Reference text: Handling controversial issues

Dickson, A. and Doherty, M. (1995) Lifelines - A Youth Workers' Handbook to Cross-Community Work, Northern Ireland: Youth Action.

Fitzduff, M. (1988) Community Conflict Skills, Belfast. Community Relations Council.

Morrow, D. and Wilson, D. (1996) Ways out of Conflict, The Understanding Conflict Trust.

Plant, M. and Firth, R. (1995) Teaching Through Controversial Issues, Nottingham: The Nottingham Trent University.

Identity, stereotyping and prejudice

Counteract (1996) Dealing with sectarian harrassment in the workplace (video), Belfast.

O'Connell, E.E. (1977) Northern Ireland Stereotypes, Dublin: College of Industrial Relations.

Public Service Broadcasting (1992) Frontline: A Class Divided (video), USA: PBS.

Rogers, P. (1990) Power to Hurt: Exploring Violence, Belfast: Irish Council of Churches.

Culture and symbolism

Crozier, M. (ed) (1989) Varieties of Irishness, Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies.

Crozier, M. (ed) (1990) Varieties of Britishness, Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies.

Loftus, B. (1994) Mirrors: Orange and Green, Dundrum: Picture Press.

Rolston, B. (1992) Drawing Support: Murals in the North of Ireland, Belfast: Beyond the Pale Publications.

Religion and Northern Ireland

ICC/ICJP (1985) Looking at Churches and Worship in Ireland, Belfast: Irish Council of Churches, Irish Commission for Justice and Peace.

Greer, J.D. and McElhinney, E.P. (1985) Irish Christianity: Five Units for Secondary Pupils, Dublin: Gill and MacMillan.

McMaster, J. (1993) The Churches and Cross-Community Work with Young People,

Belfast: Youthlink NI.

McMaster, J. (1994) Strategy for Peace, Belfast: Youthlink NI.

Politics, the law and human rights

Citizenship Foundation (1995) Young Citizen's Passport, London: Hodder and Stoughton. Council of Europe (1995) The Human Rights Album, Strasbourg: Council of Europe. McCann, D. (1993) Rights and Responsibilities: Practical guide to Law in Northern Ireland, Belfast, The Peace People.

McCarthy, S. (ed) (1995) Civic, Social and Political Education Project, (study units), Dublin: Curiculum Development Unit.

Northern Ireland Curriculum Council (1993) Law In Our Lives, Belfast, NICC. O'Brien, E.L., Greene, E. and McQuid-Mason, D. (1996) Human Rights for All, St. Paul: National Insitute for Citizen Education in the Law.

Rowe, D. and Thorpe, T. (1995) Understand the Law , London: Hodder and Stoughton.
Outputmediatype: Television series


  • education northern ireland mutual understanding peace controversial issues


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