Monday, September 01, 2008

Hardly a First

Irish Times, 19 April 1952

When, in 1952, a rumor was spread through Dublin by an afternoon newspaper that the Irish National Teachers' Organization, the chief teachers' union, was beginning to think about the possibility of a public-school system for Ireland, the general secretary of that organization published an anxious denial, which the Irish Times embodied in a headline worthy of the New Yorker: "NO SUGGESTION OF NATIONALISING THE NATIONAL SCHOOLS." (The only adequate parallel I know is a banner displayed in a Dublin street during the 1932 Eucharistic Congress: "GOD BLESS THE TRINITY.")

Paul Blanshard in The Irish and Catholic Power (1953)

And now, 55 years later the same Irish Times can tell us:

First State-run primary schools to open today

Better late than never, I suppose. I think, however, I would take issue with the Irish Times in crediting this as a first. Surely the model schools were national schools run by the State. The fact that they were few and far between and unlikely to multiply is beside the point.

I have explained some of the background to Blanshard's book and how it came into my life on my site and my reaction to a more recent reread in an earlier post.


martha said...

There's a complete mix-up here anyway. What does "run by" mean?
If the State is paying the teachers and a capitation grant per child, but the Church is calling all the shots regarding teachers' employment, curriculum, religious teaching, etc, who the heck is running them? And we have a situation whereby really really bad teachers can't be sacked (come hell or high water) because of the INTO. So we have three groups involved. The one with the least power seems to have been the State - up to now - admittedly.

Póló said...

While most of the primary schools were managed by the clergy, the model schools were managed directly by the Department.

However, I am quite sure that the Central Model School, which is directly opposite the pro-cathedral, was not free from clerical influence.

This influence would have been brought to bear through the political system, the teachers, and a generally subservient laity.

So my observation is really a bit of technical nit-picking. At the same time I don't like to see standards slipping in the paper of record. It might just be tolerable during the silly season, but that is now past.