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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Final Lesson and Reflection

    One of my favourite lessons that I’ve observed was in Mr. O’Flatharta’s Modern Irish history class for the 6th years.  They were discussing the turmoil in Northern Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s. Per usual, Mr. O’Flahtharta took attendance and checked the class’s homework. In reviewing their homework they compared and contrasted the Loyalists and Unionists and my CT wrote the notes on the board. After discussing the differences mainly, Mr. O’Flatharta then showed clips from a documentary about the IRA during this time period. The class then heavily discussed the various interviews and clips from the documentary. Then they went through the section of their textbook and like many of the other lessons my CT would point out key people and phrases for the students to highlight or underline. Before assigning the class’s homework, Mr. O’Flatharta also wrote a couple of references for the students’ general use and the name of the documentary on the board for them to write down. Although this was a fairly simple and ordinary lesson, I liked it first because I actually learned a lot of information considering I had never really studied this time period before. Mainly however, I found it interesting to see the students debate this issue so calmly and academically. The Northern Ireland conflict is a rather touchy subject for many, but it is merely part of their history in Ireland. Many of the most controversial parts of American history seem like ages ago but the major controversies of Irish history are actually relatively recent. This time frame often affects how the lessons are taught and constructed. I felt that there was more of a neutral and matter of fact feel to some of the discussions so as not to stir controversy while still critically analyzing the past events.  
      I felt like this lesson reflected the general attitude of the Irish education system and its culture. The lesson was not about attributing blame or criticizing the past but rather discussing and learning about what happened because what happened cannot be changed now. The school itself was also very relaxed in general and seemed like a less high stress environment than many American schools appear. I think this often created a much more open classroom. The classes ran a lot smoother and felt less chaotic as sometimes happens in some of my past classes during pre-pracs. I really enjoyed learning a lot academically and in terms of my teaching experience I enjoyed this slightly different type of environment. Comparing and contrasting my pre-prac in Ireland and in the US was one of the most eye opening experiences and really helped think about what works in specific classrooms and schools overall.

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