Teaching Controversial Issues in a Divided Society: Learning from Northern Ireland

Alan McCully

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    AbstractThe paper draws on the author’s professional experience as teacher, curriculum developer, researcher and teacher educator working with controversial issues in the context of the Northern Irish education system during thirty years of conflict and subsequent peace-building. It argues that while teaching controversial issues in any educational context offers challenges particular difficulties are faced in a society characterised by violent divisions around national identity, ethnicity or religion. Such situations can generate deep emotional reactions in students that override their capacity to engage in rational dialogue, or cause them to avoid such discourse at all. Facilitating understanding in these conditions requires specific responses on the part of the practitioner in order to establish a conducive and trusting environment for interaction. Arising from the collective experience of three major curriculum initiatives in the field the paper identifies ten points on which to build effective practice. In the conclusion these are placed in the context of recent writing on the relationship between education and divided societies.
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages38-46
    JournalProspero
    Volume11
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

    Fingerprint

    curriculum
    professional experience
    Teaching
    teacher
    national identity
    education system
    learning
    peace
    ethnicity
    dialogue
    Religion
    educator
    cause
    discourse
    interaction
    society
    education
    experience
    student
    Society

    Keywords

    • Controversial Issues
    • Educational responses to conflict

    Cite this

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    title = "Teaching Controversial Issues in a Divided Society: Learning from Northern Ireland",
    abstract = "AbstractThe paper draws on the author’s professional experience as teacher, curriculum developer, researcher and teacher educator working with controversial issues in the context of the Northern Irish education system during thirty years of conflict and subsequent peace-building. It argues that while teaching controversial issues in any educational context offers challenges particular difficulties are faced in a society characterised by violent divisions around national identity, ethnicity or religion. Such situations can generate deep emotional reactions in students that override their capacity to engage in rational dialogue, or cause them to avoid such discourse at all. Facilitating understanding in these conditions requires specific responses on the part of the practitioner in order to establish a conducive and trusting environment for interaction. Arising from the collective experience of three major curriculum initiatives in the field the paper identifies ten points on which to build effective practice. In the conclusion these are placed in the context of recent writing on the relationship between education and divided societies.",
    keywords = "Controversial Issues, Educational responses to conflict",
    author = "Alan McCully",
    note = "Reference text: References Arlow M. (2004) Citizenship Education in a divided Society: the case of Northern Ireland, S. Towel and A. Harley (eds.), Education, Conflict and Social Cohesion (Geneva, International Bureau of Education, UNESCO) pp. 255-314 Claire H. ed (2004) ‘ ‘Joined-up Thinking’: Tacking Controversial Issues as part of Citizenship Education’, Teaching Citizenship in the Primary School (Exeter, Learning Matters) pp. 67-85 Department of Education for Northern Ireland [DENI}(1992) Educational (Cross-Curricular) Themes, (Belfast, HMSO). Ebyen K., Morrow D., Wilson D. and Robinson B. (2002) The Equity, Diversity and Interdependence Framework: A Framework for Organisational learning and Change, (Coleraine, Future Ways, University of Ulster) Gallagher T. (2004) Education in Divided Societies (Basingstoke, Palgrave MacMillan) Giroux H. (2001) Theory and Resistance in Education: Towards a Pedagogy for the Opposition, (Pennsylvania, Bergin and Garvey) Harwood D. (1998) ‘The Teacher’s Role in democratic pedagogies’, C. Holden and N. Clough (eds.), Children as Citizens: Education for Participation (London, Jessica Kingsley) pp.154-170. Hess D. (2002) ‘Discussing controversial public issues in secondary social studies classrooms: Learning from skilled teachers’, Theory and research in Social Education,Vol.30, No.1 pp. 293-296 Humanities Curriculum Project (1970) The Humanities Project: an introduction, (London, Heinemann Educational). Jenkins D., O’Connor S., Kemmis S., Anderson J. and Breslin A. (1980) Chocolate Cream Soldiers (Coleraine, New University of Ulster) Joined in Equity, Diversity and Interdependence [JEDI] (2002) A Framework for Reflection in Practice: Guidelines for embedding EDI principles in youth work practice (Belfast, JEDI). Johnson, P. (1998) 'Understanding the Role of Emotion in Anti-Racist Education' In: Holden C. and Clough N., Children as Citizens: Education and Interpretation, (London, Jessica Kingsley), pp.141-153. McCully A. (1985) 'The Relevance of Social Studies to the Teaching of Irish History', in R. Austin ed., Essays on History Teaching in Northern Ireland, (University of Ulster, Coleraine). McCully A. (In press) ‘Practitioner perceptions of their role in facilitating the handling of controversial issues in contested societies: a Northern Irish experience’, Curriculum Review, Jan. 2006 McCully A., Smyth P. and O’Doherty M. (1999) ‘Exploring Controversial Issues in Northern Ireland’, Irish Educational Studies, Vol.18, Spring. McLaughlin T. (2004) ‘Teaching Controversial Issues in Citizenship Education’, A.Lockyer A., B. Crick and J. Annette (eds.) Education for Democratic Citizenship: Issues of Theories and Practice (Aldershot, Ashgate) pp. 149-160. McVeigh R. (1997) ‘Symmetry and Asymmetry in Sectarian Identity and Division’, Journal of the Community Relations Council (Belfast, CRC) pp. 8-10 O’Connor U., Hartop B., and McCully A. (2002) A Review of the Schools’ Community Relations Programme (Bangor, Department of Education) Parker W.C and Hess D. (2001) Teaching with and for discussion, Teaching and teacher Education, 17, pp. 273-289. Qualifications and Curriculum Authority [QCA] (1998) Education for citizenship and the teaching of democracy in schools (London, QCA). Robinson A. (1983) The Schools Cultural Studies Project: a contribution to peace in Northern Ireland (Coleraine, New University of Ulster). Skilbeck M. (1973) ‘The School and Cultural Development’, The Northern Teacher, Winter. Shipman M., Bolam D. and Jenkins D. (1974) Inside a curriculum project,(London, Methuen). Slater J. (1995) Teaching History in the New Europe (London, Council of Europe). Smith A. (2003) ‘Citizenship Education in Northern Ireland: beyond national identity?’, Cambridge Journal of Education, Vol. 33, No.1, pp.15-31. Smith A. and Print M. (2003) ‘Editorial’, Cambridge Journal of Education, Vol. 33, No.1, pp.3-14. Smith A. and Robinson A. (1996) Education for Mutual Understanding: The Initial Statutory Years (Coleraine, University of Ulster). Smith A. and Vaux T. (2003) Education, Conflict and International Development, (London, Department of International Development) Speak Your Piece (1997) Exploring Controversial Issues: A Guide for Teachers, Youth and Community Workers (Coleraine, University of Ulster) Stenhouse L. (1971) ‘The Humanities Curriculum Project: the rationale, Theory into Practice, Vol.10, pp.154-162. Stradling R., Noctor N., Baines B. (1984) Teaching Controversial Issues, London, E. Arnold. Wellington J.J. (1986) Controversial Issues in the Curriculum, Oxford, Basil Blackwell.",
    year = "2005",
    language = "English",
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    }

    Teaching Controversial Issues in a Divided Society: Learning from Northern Ireland. / McCully, Alan.

    In: Prospero, Vol. 11, No. 4, 2005, p. 38-46.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    AU - McCully, Alan

    N1 - Reference text: References Arlow M. (2004) Citizenship Education in a divided Society: the case of Northern Ireland, S. Towel and A. Harley (eds.), Education, Conflict and Social Cohesion (Geneva, International Bureau of Education, UNESCO) pp. 255-314 Claire H. ed (2004) ‘ ‘Joined-up Thinking’: Tacking Controversial Issues as part of Citizenship Education’, Teaching Citizenship in the Primary School (Exeter, Learning Matters) pp. 67-85 Department of Education for Northern Ireland [DENI}(1992) Educational (Cross-Curricular) Themes, (Belfast, HMSO). Ebyen K., Morrow D., Wilson D. and Robinson B. (2002) The Equity, Diversity and Interdependence Framework: A Framework for Organisational learning and Change, (Coleraine, Future Ways, University of Ulster) Gallagher T. (2004) Education in Divided Societies (Basingstoke, Palgrave MacMillan) Giroux H. (2001) Theory and Resistance in Education: Towards a Pedagogy for the Opposition, (Pennsylvania, Bergin and Garvey) Harwood D. (1998) ‘The Teacher’s Role in democratic pedagogies’, C. Holden and N. Clough (eds.), Children as Citizens: Education for Participation (London, Jessica Kingsley) pp.154-170. Hess D. (2002) ‘Discussing controversial public issues in secondary social studies classrooms: Learning from skilled teachers’, Theory and research in Social Education,Vol.30, No.1 pp. 293-296 Humanities Curriculum Project (1970) The Humanities Project: an introduction, (London, Heinemann Educational). Jenkins D., O’Connor S., Kemmis S., Anderson J. and Breslin A. (1980) Chocolate Cream Soldiers (Coleraine, New University of Ulster) Joined in Equity, Diversity and Interdependence [JEDI] (2002) A Framework for Reflection in Practice: Guidelines for embedding EDI principles in youth work practice (Belfast, JEDI). Johnson, P. (1998) 'Understanding the Role of Emotion in Anti-Racist Education' In: Holden C. and Clough N., Children as Citizens: Education and Interpretation, (London, Jessica Kingsley), pp.141-153. McCully A. (1985) 'The Relevance of Social Studies to the Teaching of Irish History', in R. Austin ed., Essays on History Teaching in Northern Ireland, (University of Ulster, Coleraine). McCully A. (In press) ‘Practitioner perceptions of their role in facilitating the handling of controversial issues in contested societies: a Northern Irish experience’, Curriculum Review, Jan. 2006 McCully A., Smyth P. and O’Doherty M. (1999) ‘Exploring Controversial Issues in Northern Ireland’, Irish Educational Studies, Vol.18, Spring. McLaughlin T. (2004) ‘Teaching Controversial Issues in Citizenship Education’, A.Lockyer A., B. Crick and J. Annette (eds.) Education for Democratic Citizenship: Issues of Theories and Practice (Aldershot, Ashgate) pp. 149-160. McVeigh R. (1997) ‘Symmetry and Asymmetry in Sectarian Identity and Division’, Journal of the Community Relations Council (Belfast, CRC) pp. 8-10 O’Connor U., Hartop B., and McCully A. (2002) A Review of the Schools’ Community Relations Programme (Bangor, Department of Education) Parker W.C and Hess D. (2001) Teaching with and for discussion, Teaching and teacher Education, 17, pp. 273-289. Qualifications and Curriculum Authority [QCA] (1998) Education for citizenship and the teaching of democracy in schools (London, QCA). Robinson A. (1983) The Schools Cultural Studies Project: a contribution to peace in Northern Ireland (Coleraine, New University of Ulster). Skilbeck M. (1973) ‘The School and Cultural Development’, The Northern Teacher, Winter. Shipman M., Bolam D. and Jenkins D. (1974) Inside a curriculum project,(London, Methuen). Slater J. (1995) Teaching History in the New Europe (London, Council of Europe). Smith A. (2003) ‘Citizenship Education in Northern Ireland: beyond national identity?’, Cambridge Journal of Education, Vol. 33, No.1, pp.15-31. Smith A. and Print M. (2003) ‘Editorial’, Cambridge Journal of Education, Vol. 33, No.1, pp.3-14. Smith A. and Robinson A. (1996) Education for Mutual Understanding: The Initial Statutory Years (Coleraine, University of Ulster). Smith A. and Vaux T. (2003) Education, Conflict and International Development, (London, Department of International Development) Speak Your Piece (1997) Exploring Controversial Issues: A Guide for Teachers, Youth and Community Workers (Coleraine, University of Ulster) Stenhouse L. (1971) ‘The Humanities Curriculum Project: the rationale, Theory into Practice, Vol.10, pp.154-162. Stradling R., Noctor N., Baines B. (1984) Teaching Controversial Issues, London, E. Arnold. Wellington J.J. (1986) Controversial Issues in the Curriculum, Oxford, Basil Blackwell.

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    AB - AbstractThe paper draws on the author’s professional experience as teacher, curriculum developer, researcher and teacher educator working with controversial issues in the context of the Northern Irish education system during thirty years of conflict and subsequent peace-building. It argues that while teaching controversial issues in any educational context offers challenges particular difficulties are faced in a society characterised by violent divisions around national identity, ethnicity or religion. Such situations can generate deep emotional reactions in students that override their capacity to engage in rational dialogue, or cause them to avoid such discourse at all. Facilitating understanding in these conditions requires specific responses on the part of the practitioner in order to establish a conducive and trusting environment for interaction. Arising from the collective experience of three major curriculum initiatives in the field the paper identifies ten points on which to build effective practice. In the conclusion these are placed in the context of recent writing on the relationship between education and divided societies.

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