Citizenship v. religion in the school curricula of the 2000s
in Schools and the politics of religion and diversity in the Republic of Ireland
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Chapter 4 examines how general policy orientations were translated into school curricula in the late 1990s and 2000s with regard to cultural and religious matters. It analyses the ambivalent message of the 1999 curriculum, between a celebration of cultural pluralism and the assertion of a kind of ‘Irish majority identity’, along with the Irish State’s continued promotion of religious identity in primary school. It shows that new contents and approaches in history and education for citizenship have been marked by a pluralist ambition (even egalitarian in the case of Civic, Social and Political Education), in contrast with religious education syllabuses which have largely remained a (modernised) vehicle of Christian catechism in the vast majority of schools, with some efforts towards a more open approach at secondary level. The pedagogical project of intercultural education, which is now meant to permeate all school content in theory (in accordance with the aim of ‘integrated teaching’), clashes directly both with religious instruction as it remains taught in primary schools (with religious values or ethos also meant to permeate school life in denominational schools) and with the segregated nature of the school system.

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