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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Culture in an Irish School

How is the culture of the country you are teaching in reflected in the school?

            Teaching abroad in another country made me notice many of the cultural influences that affect a classroom. The school that I was student teaching in while in Dublin prides itself on being an international school with a mixture of nationalities and cultures. The third grade classroom I was in was full of American, Irish, British, and French students. The school website describes itself as a “community over1,300 students, teachers and support staff, drawn from Ireland and 40 other countries. There is a distinctly international atmosphere in the school.” With such a diverse and widespread student body, the school is able to encourage tolerance, understanding, and appreciation of others.
            A manifestation of the school’s desire to build community through a celebration of cultures comes from its emphasis on studying a wide array of subjects. The school is very multicultural and even in the third grade the students were learning at least two languages. American students at the school took American history in addition to one language in order to help them understand the history of their home country. It was clear to me that this school had a very big emphasis on promoting culture and differences in its students.
            Something I learned about in my Irish history classes is that there is a big emphasis in Ireland on a revival of the Irish language. With the arrival of the British in Ireland and their rule over the island until 1920, the use of Gaelic steadily dwindled until only small pockets of people in the west of Ireland use the language in their everyday use. When more and more people began fighting for Irish independence throughout the 1900s, many people believed that the country should return to the use of Irish as the national language. When Ireland became independent, it became national law for all government announcements to be made in Irish and in English and that all students were to be taught Irish in schools. When I was student teaching at this school, it was very interesting to observe a lesson where Gaelic was being taught to the students. These students had been learning Gaelic since at least first grade and some students even spoke it at home with their parents, so they had a very high knowledge of the language (more than I did with Spanish in third grade). I think that this shows the emphasis on Irish culture in Irish schools and how seriously they take their cultural history.

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