Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Northern Ireland - trouble once again

The last couple of days we have seen that the conflict and the trouble in Northern Ireland have not come to an end. Since Saturday two soldiers and one policeman have been murdered, and there is much unrest in the Ulster region. The Continuity IRA, a dissident republican group, today claimed responsibility, saying that "as long as there is British involvement in Ireland, these attacks will continue."

For years I have tried to really understand what this conflict is all about, and though I believe I have managed to see some of the lines, I find it really hard teaching this to my students. First, I find that they do not have enough knowledge of British history to understand how the problems could have started in the first place. Second, I believe that most Norwegians think that the conflict is just about religion and that you can simply say that Catholics and Protestants disagree on how Northern Ireland should be governed. How much should we teach them? Do Norwegian students have to know all the details about the conflict, or should we just try to give them a simplified version of Irish history? I have often used the textbook Passage's "Thirteen Questions about Northern Ireland" to be a good starting point when teaching this topic. This text gives answers to many of the questions that the students have, and it helps correcting misconceptions. I like to present more facts than there is in this text, but for some students these thirteen questions will suffice. For those who really want to go in depth on the topic, I believe this BBC page is a place to start. Here you find information on all the central events and people involved, and the page is well structured, so finding what you are looking for should be fairly simple. I have also browsed through a couple of pages on the internet, and I guess both BBC's history page and infoplease.com can be used, at least when preparing for the lesson.

I still have a few days left before putting focus on Northern Ireland in class. I guess I must wait almost until the last minute before I decide my approach this year. After all, it would not make a whole lot of sense talking about history only when the situation is as it is in the region at the moment.

PS! Please take the time to listen to Sinead O'Conner's beautiful song "This Is a Rebel Song". It is really worth the time!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you that was a helpful page for me and my students too!