Thursday, October 25, 2018

From Hedge Schools, to Blue Schools, to Prefabs, to Western Building Systems #education

Me in National School 1964.
A few weeks ago I wrote about hedge schools and blue schools - 200 years ago - education facilities looked a lot different!. I also wondered what teachers from 200 years ago would think of educational facilities today. They say that if you take a person from hundreds of years ago via a time machine to today, there are only two things they would recognise: churches, and schools. Today, our new Minister for Education, Joe McHugh, has warned that More schools are set to close amid safety concerns, following revelations that Ardgillan Community College in Balbriggan, has shut 18 classrooms this week due to "structural issues". 42 more schools are to be inspected. This of course is severely disruptive to students and teachers alike. No one wants to work in an unsafe environment, and shame on the builders, Western Building Systems, if they have constructed an unsafe school that puts our children in any danger.

Health and Safety didn't really exist when I started in Carnew National School in 1964. The school was built in 1958 and was still very new at the time. While no one obviously made our classroom unsafe, it was probably state-of-the-art for the 1950s. This building still stands today, though has been greatly extended. I spent all of 2nd and 3rd class (1967 to 1969) in newly added pre-fab buildings. I do recall them being cold, but I don't think my education was affected by being in an inferior building. Less than 100 years ago, some pupils attended school in their bare feet - see photo below from Carnew Historical Society's Gallery page (I'm guessing from 1920s or 1930s):

Image source: Carnew Historical Society.

Children can be educated anywhere. It's a shame that we have to close schools because of "structural issues" - that's what we get for using the lowest bidder. When we think of what many students had to endure in times past, it's a wonder that any education took place at all. 

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