Difference, diversity and difficulty: problems in adult peace education in Northern Ireland

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The peace process in Northern Ireland has been hailed, variously, as the successful resolution to one of the world's most intractable conflicts, and as a failed attempt to reconcile the conflicting claims of the two main ethnonationalist communities. At both these points, and at every other point along the continuum, recognition is given to the centrality of education. This article looks at the role played by adult learning, and contrasts two fundamentally different approaches. In one, enlightenment assumptions about the power of knowledge to dispel prejudice have run alongside attempts to create a world of shared values; in the other, a postmodern acceptance of different cultures has accompanied a peace process that builds upon ethnic distinctions. As with the Dayton Accord and with other peace agreements brokered with international assistance, the consociational model of governance has been chosen for Northern Ireland in order to create a political equilibrium between the unionists and nationalists. Such a political framework reverses the direction of previous integrationist educational policies in favour of a celebration of difference, an approach that is fraught with difficulties. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.




Nolan, P. (2007). Difference, diversity and difficulty: problems in adult peace education in Northern Ireland. International Journal of Educational Development, 27(3), 282–291. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2006.10.014

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