Addressing conflict and tolerance through the curriculum

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Political, religious and national divisions in Northern Ireland go back many hundreds of years so it is not surprising that the lack of a common national narrative has made the teaching of history in schools difficult. The fact that schools have largely been organized on a denominational basis has added to the challenge. When political violence broke out in the late 1960s many looked to schools to contribute to the promotion of reconciliation and the way history had been taught received significant critical attention. This chapter will outline the evolving nature of the history curriculum and review evidence on the impact of this curriculum on the historical understanding of students and young people. In addition, the chapter will briefly consider other ways in which students engage with historical issues through the teaching of citizenship, and wider family and community influences. Whereas the teaching of history in the past either was largely absent or often took on a partisan character, the development of a statutory curriculum in the 1990s helped promote a more dispassionate, skills-based approach which emphasized critical engagement with evidence and a multiperspectivity. While this represented a significant improvement on what had gone before, evaluation of the impact of this approach has highlighted the need for a consideration of the emotional impact of historical understanding and the need better to connect the lessons of history to contemporary society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication(Re)Constructing Memory: School Textbooks, Identity, and the Pedagogies and Politics of Imagining Community
Subtitle of host publicationVol III: (Re)Constructing Memory: Education, Identity, and Conflict
EditorsMichelle Bellino, James Williams
Place of PublicationNetherlands
PublisherSense Publishers
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-94-6300-860-0
ISBN (Print)978-94-6300-859-4, 978-94-6300-858-7
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2017


  • education
  • curriculum
  • conflict
  • tolerance
  • citizenship
  • history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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