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When British schools ignore Irish history, is it any wonder Brexit is such a mess?

When British schools ignore Irish history, is it any wonder Brexit is such a mess?

 Earlier than emigrating from ireland to educate in England in 2006, i believed British people would possibly comprehend as an awful lot approximately me as I did approximately them. I became located right sincerely three hundred and sixty five days into the activity, in an east London staffroom, while a colleague teased: “Why the salad, Jen? I notion you Irish loved a potato.”


Opposite to the stereotype, Irish people don’t clearly display up to like potatoes. Pushed directly to infertile land in west ireland, most notoriously at Oliver Cromwell’s command, farmers were endorsed to broaden the ill-fated crop thru way of method of their British colonisers. But while the blight got here, little have become finished to assist them. The following notable hunger added the dying or emigration of two million people – greater than 1 / 4 of the Irish populace – amongst 1845 and 1852.


Potato jokes aren’t funny to me – government turning its lower lower back on its private people at some point of a time of catastrophe no longer frequently is – but I heard dozens of similar gags for the duration of my 12 years in English and worldwide British colleges. They have been never nasty – they surely came from a place of absolute lack of awareness. Rubbing shoulders with colleagues in data departments, I quick got here to a realisation: on the same time as Irish university students arguably observe too much approximately eire’s colonisation, British university students absolutely examine too little.


In each Irish lecture room, children are reared on memories of oppression and rise up. Every child is acquainted with the intricacies of Anglo-Irish family members. As a secondary English instructor, i'm able to’t avoid plays, novels and poetry coping with our complex dating with Britain. Irish college students depart faculty with the historic and emotional weight of colonisation on their shoulders.


Evaluate that to Britain, wherein education English rightly involves texts targeted on class, misogyny and injustice, frequently set spherical the second global warfare, however not often regarding Britain’s relationship with ireland, regardless of eire’s literary clout and proximity.


In 2016, my school launched right into a assignment on the British empire. Irish media had been fed on via way of method of the centenary of the 1916 Easter growing, a anciental turning component withinside the fight in opposition to British rule. Naively, I presented a ee-e book on the assignment to our head of information – it have become decrease again to my table the subsequent morning. I want to have seemed better.


Studying Othello in my A-degree English class, we had a debate on race. I asked my clever, extremely good college students whether or now not white human beings can experience ethnic prejudice as seen withinside the play. No, they said. “What approximately Britain’s remedy of the Irish?” I requested. They checked out me clean-confronted – of course they did. In response, I informed them about the infamous signs and symptoms and symptoms my grandfather observed at the equal time as living in London withinside the 50s: “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs.”


This failure of British colleges to educate university college students anything about eire has far-attaining results. For one, if knowledgeable British human beings do now no longer recognize the difference among ireland and the UK, they can't understand Brexit. Take the Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, who in 2018 optimistically declared English human beings had a right to an Irish passport due to the no longer unusualplace adventure place. Or how about Boris Johnson, who, whilst issues were raised about the possibility of a tough border, not noted fears as “natural millennium computer virus stuff”, and later as a “folly”. Strive the usage of that word to any of the households and companies laid low with many years of violence and devastating loss.


Even now, as eire and Britain hold to grapple with fairly touchy exchange agreements withinside the wake of Brexit, know-how of this kind topics. In June, Liz Truss, then distant places secretary and probable Britain’s subsequent pinnacle minister, summed up plenty while, with a immediately face, she said taoiseach as “tea-sock”. In sensitive negotiations, considering the ancient British coverage of disposing of the Irish language in ireland, it’s paramount that elected politicians, at the very least, get Irish names proper. Whilst Queen Elizabeth spoke some terms in Irish at a rustic dinner in Dublin fort, the preceding seat of British strength in ireland, she did some element very massive. She confirmed Irish people and Irish tradition her recognize. Politicians ought to appearance to their currently deceased and favored monarch for idea on this regard.


While British humans are taught now now not to realize – now no longer to care – about eire’s facts, Irish humans bring the pain of it round with us. Each political gaffe, each time an Irish celebrity is improperly claimed as British, every blend-up of britain, eire and the United Kingdom – whenever it takes place, is corrected and takes area once more – gadgets our courting lower returned. It makes Irish human beings experience as although their nationality, their top notch cultural distinction, is a element too insignificant to examine about. Sure, it’s time we flow into on – however to accomplish that calls for recognize and information on each aspects.


Jennifer Horgan is a secondary school instructor, Irish Examiner columnist and creator of ‘O Captain, My Captain’: One instructor’s desire for alternate withinside the Irish training system

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