Although Northern Ireland is a much more peaceful place to live; the sinister fragments of the Troubles have left a terrible legacy. I despair at the countless number of students leaving school with pitiful knowledge and slanted interpretations of their country’s turbulent past. This problem is exacerbated when you consider that a new generation of children are growing up having their identity narrowly defined by the political and sectarian conditions that festered here during the Troubles.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the one overriding method of helping this generation to properly contextualise and interpret their past is to employ collaborative history education strategies. This affords students the opportunity to investigate their past along with young people from the other tradition in Northern Ireland. In this sort of environment students can come together to challenge the myths and misconceptions of the past, and help shape reconciliatory thinking in their community.
I want to develop my knowledge and expertise in the type of education that I have just outlined. I will travel to the United States in October 2013 to witness and understand how in-depth implementation of effective and imaginative history teaching operates within the Facing History School in New York City and New Haven Academy, Connecticut. I have two main goals in mind: 1) to study and experience new Facing History techniques in, and approaches to, shared history education, and then take elements of these strategies and methodologies back to my school and community; 2) to share my experiences of the challenges involved in teaching history in a divided community, and to offer my expertise to these schools (particularly NHA which teaches the Northern Ireland Conflict to its students).
I will use this blog to update colleagues on how this project is progressing.
Richard Hargy teaches at Ballymoney High School in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. He is the recipient of a 2013 Margot Stern Strom Innovation Grant from Facing History and Ourselves. This post is part of a series that highlights the classroom and school work of the 2013 Margot Stern Strom Innovation Grant winners. These teachers are thinking outside the box to transform schools and impact student learning and their projects are helping students worldwide to become more active, concerned citizens.