Teach Your Children Well

Former hunger striker Laurence McKeown and local author Denis O Hearn have written a children’s version of O’Hearn’s recent biography of Bobby Sands (“Nothing But An Unfinished Song“). The children’s book is titled “I Arose This Morning”. Aimed at 9-12 year olds, McKeown and O’Hearn had the book adapted into Irish (“D’eirigh me ar Maidin“), and want bunscoils to include it in their curriculum.

According to the Irish News (subs needed):

Co-author of I Arose This Morning, Mr McKeown, said that the writers hoped the book would be made available to every bunscoil in the north.
“We like the idea of it going on the syllabus. The curriculum has things like citizenship and modern history on it so we think there is a place for the book,” he said.
Mr McKeown said the children’s edition was 100 pages long and aimed at nine to 12-year-olds “but is accessible to adults and would be an ideal tool for adults learning Irish”.
He said events in the H Block in the Maze prison had “contributed significantly to the revival of the [Irish] language”.
“Many former prisoners are today Irish language teachers and indeed principals of Irish language schools which is testament to the role they have played upon release.”
A spokesman for a teaching union said schools often studied modern local history and in particular local figures and while teachers always tried to provide a “balanced view” they also had a responsibility to tackle “difficult” issues.
“If a document or material was directly biased a teacher wouldn’t deliver that information, they would prepare their own material,” the spokesman from the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers said.
“If a school was going to use something like that [the book] there should be a counter to it.
“We are not in the age of burning books,” he added.
The spokesman said that as the 25th anniversary of the hunger strikes was being marked this year it was likely many schools had already looked at the event and the people involved.
However, questions have been asked about the appropriateness of primary school children reading about someone who espoused violence in the face of what he perceived was injustice.
Co-author Mr O’Hearn said the book was relevant to younger people who faced challenges and the consequences of their actions.
“The original biography asked how people like Bobby Sands become activists and then strengthen their beliefs to the degree that they willingly make tremendous sacrifices and do extraordinary things,” Mr O’Hearn said.
“Writing for young people adds a new dimension to this question because we directly addressed the ethical dilemma that Bobby and others faced in joining the IRA and then doing things that were quite controversial.
“Young people face hard choices nearly every day and we hope this book will encourage them to think about the consequences of the choices they make, even if they are less dramatic than those that Bobby Sands faced.”

  • Skintown lad

    disgraceful brain washing

  • pith

    Hopefully they will issue a version for 3 to 4 year olds and include the best of the poetry in it.

  • Will it be illustrated?

  • Rory

    disgraceful brain washing

    The author of the above sentiment clearly was not subject to the type of disgraceful brainwashing that dictated that sentences should begin with capital letter and might sometimes make use of a verb.

  • Brainwashed

    “Will it be illustrated? ”

    Not to a very high standard……from what I hear they will be mostly stickmen.

  • Yokel

    It’s an audio book I hear. Open and you’ll hear the voices of dead hunger strikers asking what the hell it was al for, a Stormont parliament, and a retrenchment of the principle of consent….

  • nmc

    disgraceful brain washing

    If it is factually correct, it is History. The kind of thing they teach in school. You can rest assured that the Germans probably have many issues with different aspects of their history, but they don’t have a blanket ban on teaching kids about the world wars.

    Not to a very high standard……from what I hear they will be mostly stickmen.

    Ingenious. Hilarious. Original. All of these things it ain’t. Anyway nice post, though not to a very high standard, I’ve never met anyone confused by something so simple as an ellipsis.

  • Yokel

    Pop up as well, I particularly like the pop up with Gerry and Martin standing beside Paisley outside Stormont. I think its towards the end in Chapter called, ‘We Can Change Our Mind….You Know’

    This is about as noteworthy as a story about me having a bad night on the bog after a dodgy curry. Kids in their respective areas of Northern Ireland grow up with this kind of thing anyway. its not going to deepen one single mind to any cause.

    Humour value though..priceless…I think this could be the topic of the day, perfect end of week cheer up. I look forward to more jokes about it from the wits of Slugger..

  • Bushmills

    No doubt it’ll read like the sort of stuff Julius Streicher used to produce for German children.

  • DK

    Makes you wonder what is being taught in these bunscoils if “Many former prisoners are today Irish language teachers and indeed principals of Irish language schools”.

  • Jazz

    Do we need our children to Glorify Terrorism. Thats what Bobby Sands was. He was a Terrorist out to take innocent lives.
    Gerry will be writting a book next for children proving Alibaba and the 40 thieves were innocent and that they were ‘VICTIMS’ of an unjust society.

  • barnshee

    is there a synopsis anywhere? I would particularly like the chapter on blowing up furniture shops “If it is factually correct, it is History” also “details on how I failed everting from the 11+ on ” would also interest me

  • John East Belfast

    DK

    “Makes you wonder what is being taught in these bunscoils if “Many former prisoners are today Irish language teachers and indeed principals of Irish language schools”.”

    Indeed – certain other ‘educational’ establishments in Pakistan/Afghanistan border spring to mind.

    That the Hunger Strikes should be part of a Northern Irish History lesson for the second half of the 20th Century nobody is disputing.

    However aiming what they are suggesting here at 9 to 12 years olds is an absolute disgrace.

    If they want to discuss the moralities of the Hunger Strikes to 16 to 18 year olds in 6th Form College – fair enough – however hopefully their minds will be sufficiently robust enough to challenge the whole issue – indeed they probably wouldn’t dare hold up the hopelessnes of the HS to the smart Catholic 6th Formers who would chase them.

    Instead they try and brain wash when they are young.

    Disgusting manipulation of young minds for an adult agenda

  • Anna Dale

    “If it is factually correct, it is History.”

    Interesting to see what *inconvenient* facts are left out, I suspect it’ll closer to the kind of *facts* the kids will have read previously in stuff like “Goldilocks and the Three Securocrats”.

    “The kind of thing they teach in school.” You can rest assured that the Germans probably have many issues with different aspects of their history, but they don’t have a blanket ban on teaching kids about the world wars.”

    True. But there are also strict guidelines in Germany and elsewhere on the continent determining the objectivity and morality of the material taught, e.g. although you’ll read in some of the approved textbooks about Versailles being a factor in the rise in Nazism, you won’t find any approved textbooks using it as a justification for their later crimes.

  • nmc

    Sources of information in History as I recall come from all sides. This book, which no-one actually knows the content of, presents a view of history. To use the German example again, when I studied it in History at school, I was given approved textbooks composed entirely of German propoganda. I was also provided with numerous books full of allied propoganda, and numerous books full of facts and dates.

    If it is a matter of Irish History I see no difference, I think it is good for kids to learn about it, and draw their own conclusions. Who better to present the Republican point of view than someone who was directly involved? If someone cares to provide a Loyalist, or non-supportive Republican account, so much the better. Studying both will give kids the opportunity to draw their own conclusions, something we were encouraged to do at school.

    At the end of the day it is also worth noting that people here seem to know what is in the book without having actually seen it. It may be an objective account, it may not, no-one really knows.

  • Little Eva

    nmc

    Coming as it is from Laurence McKeown and Denis O’Hearn I think we can safely say this book will not be objective.
    What age were you when you studied separate German and allied propoganda? Were the textbooks presented as examples of propoganda or as factual accounts?
    If the authors get their way, this propoganda will be delivered to impressionable youngsters as historical fact. Quite clearly it is aimed at brainwashing.

  • The World’s Gone Mad

    nmc – ‘To use the German example again, when I studied it in History at school, I was given approved textbooks composed entirely of German propoganda.’ – what, at the age of 9?

  • nmc

    Were the textbooks presented as examples of propoganda or as factual accounts?

    When they were propoganda they were presented as propoganda. When they were facts they were presented as facts.

    If the authors get their way, this propoganda will be delivered to impressionable youngsters as historical fact.

    I would be stunned if the book is not made up of historical fact, and should be presented as such.

  • Little Eva

    nmc

    I must say you are easily surprised, for what else would you expect in a “history” book from the provos but propoganda. Anyway, prepare to be stunned.

  • sapi

    Well it’s nice to see the hard strapped education boards spending tax-payers money to educate children on the human rights of a hunger-striker/republican/terrorist/combatant/freedom fighter/furniture shop bomber. Don’t forget how many innocent lives was Sands responsible for taking directly or indirectly. A terrorist is a terrorist no matter how glossy he is made to look by the re-write republican history brigade as they try to peddle their propoganda.

  • circles

    Great to see this book being judged before anybody has even read it. Nice to know you can still always count on the knee-jerks to foam at the mouth and rant and rave.
    How’s about this for an idea – why not actually look at the book first before getting the knickers inb a twist? Why not look at the academic record of students of irish speaking schools before displaying your blatant condescension and ignorance of both the teachers and the pupils? (John EB – yours is by far the most ignorant post I have read on slugger – well done!!)
    Or why not just come out and state clearly that your are against irish schools, republican history, and ex-republican prisoners having any role whatsoever in your perfect little middle-class prahvince?

  • pith

    nmc,

    I don’t know what sort of school you went to but it must have been great fun. We had to make do with books by boring old real historians.

  • nmc

    RBAI as it goes.

  • Little Eva

    “Many former prisoners are today Irish language teachers and indeed principals of Irish language schools …”

    Not against Irish schools at all. Just opposed to the idea of convicted terrorists and killers pumping young children full of poisionous propoganda and spreading the myth of martyrdom. Do we not have enough of that sort of thing with suicide bombers, without jihadist type suicide slimmers being exalted as well.

  • pith

    nmc,

    Can’t argue with that.

    Are you sure?

  • JR

    This is as disgraceful as a a parent who would bring their child to watch an Orange Parade.

  • McGrath

    I asked my 11 year old son if he wanted to read a book about some guy who starved himself to death. He said, “Go away Dad, Im playing my gameboy”.

  • John East Belfast

    circles

    If you read my post you would see that I have nothing against these two individuals writing a book with their take on the hunger strikers – nor have I anything against it being used to promote debate among mature school children.

    I am objecting to 9 to 12 year olds.

    Give me one reason – other than trying to influence impressionable minds at an early age – why anyone would want to produce a book on such an horrific issue for children this young ?

    Well lets see what the authors say its is for

    “Co-author Mr O’Hearn said the book was relevant to younger people who faced challenges and the consequences of their actions”.

    and

    “The original biography asked how people like Bobby Sands become activists and then strengthen their beliefs to the degree that they willingly make tremendous sacrifices and do extraordinary things”

    or

    “we directly addressed the ethical dilemma that Bobby and others faced in joining the IRA and then doing things that were quite controversial.”

    also

    “Young people face hard choices nearly every day and we hope this book will encourage them to think about the consequences of the choices they make, even if they are less dramatic than those that Bobby Sands faced.””

    FOR 9 to 12 YEAR OLDS !

    It is brainwashing and peddaling their nasty little agenda.

    -and I dont talk like the way you have inferred and your ad hominem attack on me illustrates the only ignoramus here is yourself.

    Even if I did so what – do you look down your nose at the East Belfast Protestant working class or something ?

    I have said it before these people are constantly looking for approval to legitimise their crimes so that they dont get remembered by history as terrorists who sqaundered their own lives and made everyone’s elses a complete misery for no benefit whatsoever.

    This book is just another weapon in their struggle and when it is directed at 9 to 12 year olds it is a form of abuse.

  • Bushmills

    JR

    Nice attempt at “themmuns are just as bad as ussuns”, but it won’t wash. Now crawl back under your stone you sectarian little creep.

  • Little Eva

    Bushmills

    An admission of sorts, I feel.
    Attempting to shift the focus of the debate away from the subject at hand and onto the Orange Order.

  • Anna Dale

    circles
    Your point about reading the actual book first is a valid one before passing judgement, but you’ve gone OTT with this:

    “Or why not just come out and state clearly that your are against irish schools, republican history, and ex-republican prisoners having any role whatsoever in your perfect little middle-class prahvince?”

    The answer to your three questions is “no”, “no” and “no” but you should not automatically assume that every non-republican posting on here is middle-class it’s both class and sectarian stereotyping. Or are you saying that working class Unionists are incapable of delivering coherent pov?

  • TAFKABO

    See Bobby, see Bobby starve.

    Starve starve starve.

    See Gerry accept the principle of consent and Stormont.

    See Bobby ask what is was all for?

    What what what?

    Our revenge is the laughter at your childrens books.

  • inuit_goddess

    That’s a joke in very poor taste Tafkabo.

    —-

    I’m pretty much with John East Belfast on this one – I don’t have a problem with republicans telling the story of the hunger-strike, nor do I have a problem with it being included in the school curriculum.

    There’s something about the 9-12 year old target group though that absolutely sends shivers down my spine. I find it difficult to see how such a book as this could be presented to such an age group in a balanced way:

    “Young Man sees injustice. Young Man decides to fight the injustice with violence. Young Man takes up arms. Young Man commits violence. Young Man gets locked away. ‘Heroic’ hunger strike. Death.”

    I really think 9-12 is too young an age group for this – 14-17 would be much more appropriate, schoolkids can approach issues much more maturely at that age. A 15 year old is infinitely more capable of critical appreciation than a 10 year old is.

    I know I’m commenting without actually seeing the book – for instance, I wonder do the innocent victims of “Brave Young Man commits violence” get mentioned? Is it made clear that innocents were hurt and killed by the actions of the ‘heroic’ hunger strikers, prior to their imprisonment?

    Does the book constitute a straightforward ‘heroic narrative’ or do the moral issues get teased out.

    I would honestly really worry if it’s a simplistic heroic narrative aimed at 9-12 year olds, wherein men of violence are advanced as role models.

    I’ve met Laurence McKeown on a few occasions and I certainly respect his right to tell his story. (He was on hunger strike even longer than Bobby Sands and survived.)

    It just seems chilling to me that 9-12 year olds in bunscoileanna seem to be the target audience here. I think the target age group should be both older and also cross-community – both Catholic and Protestant schoolkids should learn about this topic in a balanced way.

    There’s a real intellectual creativity within republicanism at the moment, and I certainly don’t want to seem to piss all over that – but in this particular instance I think a lot of people of many persuasions will feel disturbed by this book.

    That said I’ll certainly keep an open mind should any republican on here wish to address these fears.

  • harpo

    I have one question:

    Will it have a recipes section?

  • circles

    John EB your argyuments came out unfortunately then (as did mine it seems). But what you did say was :
    “Makes you wonder what is being taught in these bunscoils if “Many former prisoners are today Irish language teachers and indeed principals of Irish language schools”.”

    Indeed – certain other ‘educational’ establishments in Pakistan/Afghanistan border spring to mind.

    Now here you are going well beyond the actual book and directly heading for the teachers and pupils.

    Anna Dale – apology offerred. I agree with the OTT analysis and humbly water down my original post (completely embarassed by my own knee jerk – take a redner!!!)

  • The World’s Gone Mad

    John East Belfast – Sep 15, 2006 @ 06:25 PM
    “I am objecting to 9 to 12 year olds.”

    What’s wrong with 9 to 12 year olds?

  • caireann

    John EB –

    ‘Disgusting manipulation of young minds for an adult agenda’

    Is that as opposed to – disgusting manipulation and abuse of young people & their minds for an adult agenda, as they attempted to make their way to & from school through a loyalist area ( Holy Cross Girl’s Primary School – 4 – 11 yr olds)??

    Caireann

  • “brainwashing” “Disgusting manipulation of young minds”

    Sheez lads, the book has just been written, it’s not on the curriculum, no one is being forced to read it.

  • TAFKABO

    That’s a joke in very poor taste Tafkabo.

    What makes you think I was joking?

  • TAFKABO

    I can’t wait for the kiddie version of the Shankill Butchers story

    The Basher Bates street kids

  • John East Belfast

    circles

    fair enough I took a cheap shot at all Irish schools before they have even adopted the author’s recommendation to include it in the curriculum.

    If my 10 year old daughter came home and told me her primary school was inviting Michael Stone in for a presentation about his life choices I would be up to the Headmaster like a shot – but it wouldnt happen.
    He simply wouldnt be considered suitable primary school material – Bobby Sands and the Hunger Strikers are of the same ilk.

    I control what my children watch and what time they go to bed at – they are children.

    The life of Bobby Sands and its grotesque end is not suitable for discussion by 9 to 12 year olds.

    If my Lower Sixth son said they were discussing such a book then fine.

  • Crataegus

    This typifies what is wrong with this place.

    There is much in the story of Mr Sands, the reasons he ended up on the course he did; about politicians and how they use people; about the dispensable role of foot soldiers, how they are just numbers and about the weavers of myths and propaganda.

    These are not really the material for young children. These are about a balanced over view and context and for that you need a greater breadth of knowledge. No this is sadly just propaganda and seems to wish to follow the maxim about giving me your children until they are seven……

    NI is truly a sad place.

  • Anna Dale

    circles
    Circles,

    “I agree with the OTT analysis and humbly water down my original post (completely embarassed by my own knee jerk – take a redner!!!)”

    Thanks!

    I’ve a feeling, as Maca said,that we’re all jumping the gun here a bit here anyway.

    From the original post:

    1. “Co-author of I Arose This Morning, Mr McKeown, said that the writers hoped the book would be made available to every bunscoil in the north.”

    Important word there- “hoped”.

    2. “”the spokesman from the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers said:

    “If a school was going to use something like that [the book] there should be a counter to it.””

    So, if a positive portrayal of Sand’s life is to be presented to the kids, it must be balanced by allowing on the curriculum also a sceptical, more negative account…. but written in Irish, in order that it can be used in the bunscoils.

    Might be waiting some time for that particuliar publication to see the light of day.

  • ciaran damery

    I am currently reading O’Hearn’s biography and find it quiet interesting. It touches on isses not usually included in books about the H-Block martyrs. Mar shampla, the author spends some time writing about Bobby’s personal life, his marraige, his friends and his personality prior to his incarceration.

    Meanwhile, the H-Block protest for political status and subsequent Hunger strikes were historical events, not just in the history of Ireland but also impacted nations and people throughout the world, ranging from the French Parliament’s criticism of Thatcher to the naming of streets (in Bobby’s honour) in countries far from Ireland to US Trade Unions refusal to unload British vessels. So whether one likes it or not, the death of Bobby sands MP and his comrades is an integral component of Ireland’s history. It is only fitting and proper that the event should be taught to school children. We can never forget our past. We can never allow revisionists, unionists and pro-partitionists to air brush that terribly tragic event which led to wold wide protests and proved to be a turning point in Ireland’s quest for reunification from our history.

  • Yokel

    Umm The Basher Bates Street Kids..anyone wish to co-operate on a project to right a children’s book about them?

    I was thinking a cat in the hat style feel to it.

  • faartrick3

    moderator….is it not a case of whats good for the goose is good for the gander?

    most of the mods on this site are now sectarian bigots..

    [see commenting policy, again – edited moderator]