46 2 mins 8 yrs

With a Sinn Fein Education Minister, one of the greatest blights one can imagine on ANY education system, this is not in the least surprising;

The Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has said he is “appalled” by an English teaching guide dealing with the hunger strikes. The guide, distributed to secondary school children, accompanies the novel Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd. Mr Nesbitt said he was not criticising the novel but objecting to elements of the accompanying teaching guide. He said the guide pointed children to republican writers rather than to historians or journalists. The source materials suggested included Danny Morrison, Richard O’Rawe and Bobby Sands, he said.

Well, UNLIKE Nesbitt, I AM criticising the novel. Why?

The main character in the novel has a brother on hunger strike in prison during the Northern Ireland Troubles. The novel is described by the publishers as “exploring the sacrifices made in the name of peace, and the unflinching strength of the human spirit”.

The hunger strikers exhibited no strength of human spirit. They were terrorist scum who starved themselves to death, albeit useful pawns in the Sinn Fein game. Smearing their excrement on their prison walls as not about “peace” – it was about the dark degeneracy that lies behind the Republican facade. Young minds should not be exposed to the filth of the Hunger strikers but then again in a State controlled education system, anything goes, no matter how vile it is.

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46 thoughts on “FEEDING THE HUNGER STRIKERS MYTHOLOGY!

  1. Mr Nesbitt said he was not criticising the novel, which he has not read.

    At least he was honest about it. I take it you have read the novel, David? Any good?

    The novel is described by the publishers as “exploring the sacrifices made in the name of peace, and the unflinching strength of the human spirit”.

    These sacrifices and unflinching strength of human spirit could be those of the main character, as he/she struggles with the conflict of a sibling engaged in a campaign that they (the main character) completely disagrees with. The novel could be a complete vilification of the Hunger Strikes. It could be a story of how the main character helps bring about the end of the Hunger Strikes. Hell, it could be about how he ends the Hunger Strike and then scores the winning goal in the cup for Linfield. It could have cyborgs and dragons in it.

    The point is – it could have any, all or none of these things in it, but I don’t know, because I haven’t read it, and neither have you. Not a single word of it. So it’s kind of hard to condemn it, for me anyway.

    As to the teacher’s notes – if secondary schools are using a book like this on the curriculum, doesn’t it make sense to have sources that are relevant? Shouldn’t the teacher be able to speak with historical authority on the subject, should any one of his/her pupils ask more in-depth questions?

    Or are you just annoyed that Unionism Decayed isn’t on the reading list?

  2. The hunger strikers exhibited no strength of human spirit.

    No? that old woman who was your heroine would have disagreed:

    “It was possible to admire the courage of Sands and the other hunger strikers who died, but not to sympathise with their murderous cause.”

    http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/uk/thatcher-s-irish-eyes-1.1358696

    The source materials suggested included Danny Morrison, Richard O’Rawe and Bobby Sands

    As Seimi says above; What better source than analysis from those who were actually witnessing events as they happened?

    Young minds should not be exposed to the filth of the Hunger strikers

    Good luck with that free speech thing although it sound like you don’t have the confidence beyond the ‘ terrorist scum’ default position to argue against the points raised. Perhaps past events should just be taught from your perspective?

    Well, UNLIKE Nesbitt, I AM criticising the novel. Why?

    Perhaps we could get all the students to burn all books the book?

    Now, let’s see how long it takes a certain Mr Tated to criticise the first two posters for engaging a thread about the Hunger Strikes

  3. The hunger strikers exhibited no strength of human spirit.

    A ridiculous statement.

  4. The novel may be appropriate for students of a certain age, and may very well be a good one to utilize in school together with other works. I think the point that was being made was that the teaching guide may be unduly slanted, which may very well be the case.

    There is a line between education and advocacy which deserves close attention.

  5. “There is a line between education and advocacy which deserves close attention.”

    Yet that standard is rarely applied in other situations. Do British students studying the First World War have to have balance and avoided it being unduly slanted? Do they have to see where the Kaiser was coming from? No.

    Do American students studying the Cold War have to understand the motivations of the Soviets in a positive light and have completely unbiased sources?

  6. I think the point that was being made was that the teaching guide may be unduly slanted, which may very well be the case.

    Can you provide a link to the complete teaching guide, Mahons? I’d like to see if it is ‘unduly slanted’.

  7. Seamus – balance does not mean blindness or stupidity. Students can study World War Two without having to hear Hitler’s side of the story (but they can learn of pressures put on Germany after the First World War).

    In the US students are taught history which doesn’t shy away from difficult issues such as treatment of Native Americans, Slavery and the struggle for Civil Rights.

    Teaching, if it is to educate, shouldn’t be about indoctrination.

  8. Seimi – Can you calm yourself? I wrote the point being made was that the teaching guide “may be” slanted. If that is the case, surely you would want to address it.

  9. Mahons – I’m perfectly calm, thanks. I was trying to point out that, without the teaching guide and its contents in front of us, it’s impossible to tell if it is ‘unduly slanted’ or not.

    Can anyone here actually see a book which glorified, or put a Republican slant on events during the Troubles, being taught anywhere in the UK?

  10. The point is Mahons is that students are regularly taught a particular side to the story. It is rarely balanced. They are taught a particular view of history as it is seen in the place where they live. Why should this be any different? Are young unionist students taught history from a republican point of view? And if not is that wrong?

  11. Seimi – It is impossible to conclude that it is, but certainly we can try to determine is the charge is legitimate.

    Seamus – It would appear from your lack of balance that a lack of balance was a feature of your education. It wasn’t a feature of mine.

  12. Seimi – What books that you feel would be of educational benefit in the UK as regards NI are denied to students?

  13. It wasn’t a feature of mine.

    I get the impression, and that’s all it is, that the virtual wiping out of the natives isn’t exactly dealt with in great detail. Is it not presented in a kind of we had to break a few eggs to make this great omelette kind of way?

    Also, do you not repeat mantra-like some kind of national prayer at the start of each school day?

    A Canadian friend once told me she was punished in school for talking about how First Nations were subject to horrific scientific tests and dumped in mass graves.

    Most of official history is national history, the unit of analysis being the nation-state. This elides all kinds of complexities and social phenomena. I doubt the US is any different.

  14. “Can anyone here actually see a book which glorified, or put a Republican slant on events during the Troubles, being taught anywhere in the UK?”

    I would love to read a book that put forward the Republican viewpoint from a purely abstract/nub of the argument/ “what we wanted to achieve” point of view.
    I would be very interested to read a book like that because it might help create a factual, bare bones “untouched by human hands” history of Ireland’s woes. I know bad things were done on both sides. I know historically my country broke away from the Church of Rome, that same Church so many here on this blog rail against.
    I know that England tried to dominate Ireland and work with Protestants either already there or imported.

    But as is often said about women, they concentrate on details of what everybody wore, everybody did and everybody said. Not what the issue actually was.
    So all this banging on about what happened to this one and what their brother did in retaliation, and why the aunts and uncles came out and whacked everybody……
    No, no no.

    The bare bones of the historical situation is always getting lost in accounts of injustices suffered by both sides, and instead of working towards a better fairer solution together, you have two sides who continue bickering about the symptoms, not the cure.

  15. Petr- Your impression comes from your speculation. We were fully taught (in age-appropriate stages) about the treatment of Indians, broken treaties, the slave trade, the struggle for civil rights, the horrors of war.

    In New York State the 8th grade curriculum included a substantial study of the Iroquois Confederacy. We read wonderful books about the Plains Indians. Among the many Civil rights books young students were given was Sounder and To Kill a Mockingbird. I can’t speak for the Canadians (but I bet your friend is older).

    We don’t have a national prayer in school.

  16. Seimi – What books that you feel would be of educational benefit in the UK as regards NI are denied to students?

    That’s either a strawman argument, or a question for another post, Mahons, because it has nothing to do with this one. I asked:

    Can anyone here actually see a book which glorified, or put a Republican slant on events during the Troubles, being taught anywhere in the UK?

    Nothing there about anyone being denied books.

  17. “It would appear from your lack of balance that a lack of balance was a feature of your education. It wasn’t a feature of mine.”

    So you were taught in school from a Soviet point of view?

  18. Petr – Because it doesn’t come from experience (you didn’t attend school here) or knowledge (as you admitted and demonstrated). Hence it is speculation.

    Seamus – Why would I be taught from a Soviet point of view? You are making less sense than usual.

  19. Seimi – What school-age books are you suggesting have not been taught? Imaginary ones or actual ones?

  20. My point, Mahons, as you probably know, is that it is highly unlikely that any book would be studied in a UK school, which would show the Republican side of the Troubles in NI in a positive way, hence my question,

    Can anyone here actually see a book which glorified, or put a Republican slant on events during the Troubles, being taught anywhere in the UK?

    So it’s not the question of which book or books, real or imaginary, but rather

    Can anyone here actually see a book which glorified, or put a Republican slant on events during the Troubles, being taught anywhere in the UK?

    The only books I remember studying at school which even dealt with the conflict here were, ‘Call My Brother Back’, and ‘Across The Barricades’, both of which looked at the futility of the violence, rather than a glorification of it.

  21. Seimi – So you want books that glorify violence as part of the curriculum?

    I am not sure what you are calling for.

  22. So you want books that glorify violence as part of the curriculum?

    I don’t want to get involved in this past the strapline but c’mon Mahons. You’re much better than that.

  23. Paul – Will someone among you then explain what book for students you find appropriate about the troubles that is not taught in schools. it can’t be that hard.

  24. “Why would I be taught from a Soviet point of view? You are making less sense than usual.”

    Surely in the interest of balance? How is teaching the history of the Cold War from only a western point of view and not a Soviet point of view is as unbalanced as learning Irish history from only a republican point of view. You claim you got a balanced view in school. Did you get a Soviet view? And if not how can it be balanced?

  25. Seimi – So you want books that glorify violence as part of the curriculum?

    Where did I write that?

    I am not sure what you are calling for.

    I suspect that you know exactly what I’m saying, and are merely trying to muddy the waters a bit, though for what reason, I cannot say.

    You’re much better than that.

    That’s what I thought too, Paul. Mahons appears to be in mischievous mood this evening. Too much sugar in his afternoon tea?

  26. I told you that I don’t want to get involved in anything rather than the main topic but that books glorifying violence comment is well below the standard of your usual contributions.

  27. Seamus – A Soviet point of view creates a balance? How bizarre. A Soviet point of view would be rejected even among Russians, or did you miss what Stalin’s crowd was up to all those years? I suppose I need Pol Pot’s view of history to achieve balance as well.

    We did study Russian history, warts and all.

  28. Seimi – you noted two books you read in school that dealt with NI, thus providing an answer to your own question, but I thought you were discounting them.

  29. Seimi – you must have accidently mentioned them then. What book(s) do people feel would be appropriate for students to read about the Troubles in NI?

  30. I suppose I need Pol Pot’s view of history to achieve balance as well

    Who’s administration was incidentally supported by David’s heroine as well.

  31. What book(s) do people feel would be appropriate for students to read about the Troubles in NI?

    ‘Ireland, a history’ by Robert Kee would be a useful text in contextualising events up to the recent present.

  32. That wasn’t my question – that’s your question. Mine was –

    Can anyone here actually see a book which glorified, or put a Republican slant on events during the Troubles, being taught anywhere in the UK?

    I mentioned those books because they are about NI and the conflict here, but don’t glorify, or give an undue slant to the Troubles, my point being that I don’t think there are any. That’s not saying that I want to see books like that on the curriculum, as you suggested I did.

  33. Paul – I take it with the Thatcher reference you no longer wish to remain precisely on topic?

    Seimi – I’ll reboot based upon a misunderstanding.

  34. It’s not really a tangent Mahons as I allude to her above also but you’re right, it’s slightly off topic.

  35. So Mahons what you are saying is that you don’t have balance in your education. You get taught the American point of view and only the American point of view as all other point of views have been rejected?

    Did you take the views of your opponents in your history lessons or just your own? And if you didn’t take the views of your opponents why should we?

  36. No Seamus – I am saying I have a well balanced education, we were not told the “American” point of view. All other points of view were not rejected (though like any actually educated person we did reject evil points of view such as those espoused by the Nazis or the KKK for example).

    Who are my opponents in studying history? Do you read what you write?

  37. The opponents of your nation Mahons.

    “All other points of view were not rejected”

    Such as?

  38. Seamus – The opponents of my nation have generally been the opponents of freedom and liberty so cast your lot with them if you wish. In school our curriculum included (as I noted above) critical analysis of various periods in the nation’s history including slavery, anti-immigrant sentiment, lynchings, the difficult relations with Indians, The Know-Nothing Party, religious intolerance, isolationism, yellow journalists whose prose led to war, and the difficulties of the Industrial Age.

    If only you were not a one trick pony for Sinn Fein you might recognize what a balanced education actually means.

  39. “The opponents of my nation have generally been the opponents of freedom and liberty”

    As have been the opponents of mine. So why should I learn history from their point of view?

  40. //lack of balance was a feature of your education. It wasn’t a feature of mine.//

    I thought you went to school in the US, mahons.

  41. Noel – Indeed I did. Don’t judge our education system by some of its end products who frequent here.

  42. Mahons, it is rather naive then to claim US history education is balanced.

    First off, because each of our perspectives is usually formed by our education, and it therefore really takes an outsider or someone educated outside to judge whether it was impartial or not.

    Also, because Americans are famously patriotic and, at least most of those I’ve met in Europe, usually very sensitive to any criticism of their home country, it seems unlikely that that patriotism has not found its way into their school curriculums.
    Then there’s that tone of reverence that Americans get when speaking about the Founding Fathers, the Pilgrim Fathers etc, which seems so uniform that it suggests it was instilled in them early and little cold analysis took place.

    How many Americans are told, for example, of the vicious massacres their soldiers carried out in the Philippines or of their other imperialist exploits around that period where the US were “the opponents of freedom”, or how their relations with the young SU got off to a bad start when they invaded the bloody place, etc.

    No country’s history is impartial. And in some cases, as you mentioned about WWII, an impartial stance is impossible, as the facts speak for themselves.

    The US is no exception.

  43. Noel – 100% impartial is of course impossible. But my experience of the American Education system was of a far more balanced curriculum than the detractors of the United States would like to admit.

    Ugly episodes in the nation’s history are also taught at age-appropriate levels, in both history classes and in English and literature.

    There is a difference between patriotism and jingoism. Most learn that, some do not.

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