f teacher training underwent change between 1831 and 1922 with Catholics breaking away from multi-denominational free model schools to establish their own teacher training schools. Curriculum, textbooks, written predominately by James Calile and provided free were written in English, and teaching methods also changed significantly during this time spurred by the Powis Commission, the Belmore Commission and the revised national school programme that resulted in much unhappiness by teachers and affronting everyone involved engaged with education. Irish was only permitted as an additional subject and according to Coolahan was “in line with the cultural assimilation policies” of the time.
The first question raised from the materials is in reference to class sizes, wherein ‘large number of pupils’ is mentioned but with no evidence as to how large or actual numbers. Numbers would help to place a more realistic perspective on the monitorial and simultaneous methods of instruction and on consideration of alternative options that may have been available to teachers at the time.
Mention is made to a number of ‘religiously neutral’ textbooks written by James Carlile resulting in an implicit manipulation of the curriculum, but no further information in relation to the books is provided; it raises the questions as to which subjects and how many levels were incorporated; were all subjects compulsory or were some optional, and whether or not he developed the successfully commercial set of graded readers.
Later, in reference to the revised national programme introduced by Starkie in 1900, mention is made to the 3 R’s and new subjects. It is interesting to note that the new subjects were listed in such a way as to infer gender separation; for example were compulsory household management subjects specifically for females and was this the beginning of the stereotypical ‘math and science’ for boys and ‘cooking and sewing’ for girls?