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Oral History and understanding/ teaching the Troubles: Voices of 68/74

Wednesday 20th September 2023, 7 - 8:30pm Online

Prof. Chris Reynolds – Nottingham Trent University

This webinar should be of interest not only to history teachers but to community educators and all others who believe that better understanding of the recent violent past in Northern Ireland is crucial if society is to move forward. Its focus is on the challenges facing educators in post-conflict societies like Northern Ireland that continue to experience ongoing division and tension in relation to the past. At the outset it briefly examines the context of the Troubles and how peace was achieved with the 1998 Good Friday/ Belfast Agreement and, importantly, how these events were variously experienced by people from different backgrounds. Subsequently, the past 25 years have seen great progress, despite the many challenges that have had to be overcome…many of which remain to this day. One of the most urgent and sensitive of these challenges relates to how the legacy of the past can be handled to ensure that it is no longer a source of tension with the capacity to undermine the future sustainability of peace. A central element in this debate is how the conflict is taught in local schools and communities. Research indicates that young people, particularly, wish to move on from the past yet, conversely, many are troubled by questions which they feel remain unanswered either at home or in formal education settings. In responding, the webinar will then concentrate on a recent collaborative project with National Museums NI entitled Voices of ’68. Using a full range of oral accounts and other contemporary artefacts as its key stimuli, the project placed education at the core of its multi-facetted activities. Its experience suggests a potentially fruitful blueprint for how the legacy of the “Troubles” can be approached and taught in ways that generate curiosity and engagement in its audience. The conclusion will provide other, recent, examples of how the “Troubles” is being constructively and effectively taught, including reference to a newly established Voices of ’74 initiative centred on the Ulster Workers’ Council Strike of that year. Finally, it will be argued that there are lessons for the general issue of managing the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland.

Organised in association with HTANI (History Teachers Association NI) for the CRC Good Relations Week, 2023.

Voices of ’68 resources

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