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«A Comparative Case Study of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) and Ireland by Melanie Liese B.A. School of Applied Languages and Intercultural Studies ...»

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Nevertheless, as a result of the preliminary analysis the ethnic and cultural „other‟ was identified in nine texts which are set in Ireland or could be applied to an Irish context. Because many of the nine texts are extracts which were taken from popular children‟s stories, it was decided that these texts will be analysed in reference to the original children‟s stories. Therefore, in the case of the textbooks for Ireland, this study will analyse how the ethnic and cultural „other‟ is represented in the textbooks examined and how the „other‟ is portrayed in the original children‟s stories. This perhaps gives us more information about the Irish approach to the representation of the ethnic and cultural „other‟ in textbooks.

The texts analysed in the Irish case include short stories, extracts from popular children‟s stories, poems and informational texts. A copy of each text analysed from the textbooks for Ireland appears in Appendix C. The texts in the Appendix appear in the order in which they were presented in Chapter 4. Those texts, which do not appear in the Appendix, were not granted copyright permission. As previously explained, these texts can be found by examiners in the books which accompany this dissertation. When a reference to an image is made, a copy of the image is included in the body of this analysis where possible. However, where a permission to use material from the textbooks examined in this study could not be obtained, an image could not be shown. The original children‟s stories are not included in the Appendix.

References for these are provided in the Bibliography. The extracts in the textbooks from Ireland read exactly the same as the original children‟s stories in all cases.

6.2 “The Caravan” The first text, entitled “The Caravan” (Giants, Fishbones and Chocolate, pp.22-25, Appendix C, p.VIII-IX) is an extract from a story of the same name by the Irish author Michael Mullen. The story is set in Ireland and describes Mrs Carney‟s escape by caravan from a “ruthless money lender” in Dublin to “a happier life in the West of Ireland” (ibid, p.22). The caravan is often associated with the travelling community in Ireland as a symbol of their unique lifestyle, their home and their means of transport, although “for many Travellers the trailer and the house have taken over” (Pavee Point 2005-2006c, p.8). The heroines of this story are from the settled community but adapt to the Traveller lifestyle with the caravan as their temporary home for their journey from Dublin to Galway.

Mullen‟s original story, as the title suggests, revolves around Travellers‟ lives. The nomadic lifestyle is set against the poor existence in a Dublin housing estate which was home to the Carneys and where “poverty was as deep in their minds as the cold in their bones” (Mullen 1990, p.1). Drawing a romantic and melancholic picture of Travellers‟ lives with “cosy warm” horse-drawn caravans (ibid, p.18) under “heavens sparkled with stars” (ibid, p.32) and meals cooked over an open fire (ibid, p.39), Mullen does not fall short in depicting modern reality as well, illustrating for the reader some of the difficulties Travellers face today. The fact that they don‟t travel as much anymore, for example, threatens their way of life as they “are lodged [...] on the side of the roads with no decent water and no place to hang clothes. And any night [they] could be shifted by the guards.” (ibid, p.19) Maintaining the travelling lifestyle has become increasingly difficult not least because of the lack of halting sites. In this regard, the Travellers Association, Pavee Point, criticises “the Government‟s failure to provide Travellers permanent and transient halting sites” as “currently, camping on private or public land is [a] punishable” criminal offence (Pavee Point 2005-2006b), and suggests that “an assimilationist approach prevails [as] „settling‟ Travellers in houses remains a priority for local authorities” (ibid).

In the original story, Mullen at times confronts and counteracts common stereotypes against members of the Travelling community. Mrs Carney‟s first encounter with a

Traveller woman for example is described as follows:

She had a fear of the itinerants. Perhaps the woman‟s caravan was filthy.

Perhaps the woman‟s hands were dirty and carried germs. But it was a cosy warm place compared to her own house. There were pictures on the walls, good plates on display and delicate curtains to draw across the small windows against the night. The space was small. She sat down and the woman made a cup of tea (Mullen 1990, p.18).

As the Carneys adopted the Traveller lifestyle they were thought of as Travellers throughout their journey. This “gave them a sharp insight into the lives of the itinerants” (ibid, p.75) as they experienced prejudice at first hand. However, unchallenged negative stereotypes in the story prevail when for instance the greedy John Derrick was burgled one night and accuses the Carney family of the crime, thinking that they were Travellers: “Thieves. I know you. Filthy and unwashed.”(ibid, p.76). It echoes the negative prejudice that still exists in society today where Travellers are often thought of as “dirty [and] thieving” (Morris, p.215).

John Derrick threatened them with a gun and they are only saved when “a squad car passed that way” (ibid, p.78). When Mrs Carney informed the guard that she “wish[es] to press charges” (ibid, p.78) he was surprised about the way in which she spoke, i.e. with a “fine accent” (ibid, p.78). It is explained that “The guard decided that he must act. He was impressed by this woman who possessed both dignity and intelligence” (ibid, p.79). It seems that the positive attributes of being well-spoken and having dignity and intelligence are given to Mrs Carney because she is perhaps not a Traveller and therefore should be helped to overcome this serious situation.





The sentence describing the guard‟s surprise that Mrs Carney, whom he expected to be a Traveller, had “dignity and intelligence” raises a number of questions. Would a „real‟ Traveller have been helped by the police in the same way? Would the police even have sided with John Derrick? Does the author imply that being well-spoken and having “dignity and intelligence” is not expected of Travellers?

In any case, Michael Mullen‟s story centres on many aspects of Traveller life and their relationship with the settled community. Yet, the extract chosen for the textbook does not reflect any of the issues mentioned above but focuses on adventure, suspense and action instead, as it describes the Carneys‟ escape from the “Shark”. The only direct reference to the Travelling Community in the chosen extract is made in connection with the build of the caravan. When Mrs Carney and her children flee from the moneylender they land in the river Shannon and are afraid of sinking. However, the caravan does not sink because it “had been well sealed by the travellers” (Giants, Fishbones and Chocolate, p.24). Although Travellers are mentioned only once in the textbook extract, they are portrayed in a positive way as being skilled craftsmen. More attention is given in the accompanying skills book where students are encouraged to find out more about the Travelling Community “by talking to a Traveller or by contacting a Traveller Association” (Giants, Fishbones and Chocolate Skills Book, p.30).

6.3 “I Want To Go Home!” Another story placed in Ireland and containing an ethnic and cultural „other‟ is an extract from Margrit Cruickshank‟s story Liza‟s Lamb entitled “I want to go home!” (Bright Sparks Stories and Poetry, pp.170-181, see book). Shane Walsh, a sevenyear old boy, is treated for a sore leg by „Doctor Azid‟ (ibid, p.180) in a country hospital before travelling on for treatment in a Dublin children‟s hospital. Although his name suggests perhaps Asian origin, no reference is made to the doctor‟s ethnic or cultural background in the extract. He is therefore represented as a normal part of Irish society just like the Doctor O‟Sullivan also referred to in the story (ibid, p.177).

Attention is drawn to the doctor‟s name in the comprehension section which follows the story when students are asked: “What was the name of the doctor at the hospital?” (ibid, p.182). The question‟s main purpose is probably to test the students‟ attention to detail as the comprehension heading “Tale and Detail” (ibid, p.182) suggests. However, it is also possible that this question is asked to encourage a discussion about work migrants in Ireland and their valuable contribution to Irish society, linking his non-Irish name and his profession as a doctor.

While the only reference to diversity in the textbook extract is the doctor‟s name, his features are described in the original story as follows: “He had dark skin, coal-black hair and a little black moustache which twitched when he smiled. He looked kind, though” (Cruickshank, p.15). The adverbial “though” here implies that kindness is not expected from a person with „dark‟ features, and creates a sense of this doctor being an exception. Further on in the story, in the Dublin children‟s hospital another doctor “with dark hair who looked like Doctor Azid at the hospital back home” (ibid, p.38) emerges. He also appears to be friendly as he “winked at Shane” (ibid). This doctor presumably comes from a similar background as Doctor Azid.

The text in the textbook is accompanied by images of hospital life with patients, nurses, doctors and visitors. One of the nurses and a family appear to have darker skin colour. The inclusion of the migrant doctor and the illustrations reflect today‟s reality in Irish hospitals where many of the staff are migrants because “the health services have depended on the skills of immigrants” (Fanning 2007, p.2) especially.

6.4 “Religions Around The World” Religious diversity within Irish society is touched on in “Religions around the world” (Blue Skies Matter of Fact, pp.78-83, see book). This is an informative text introducing students to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. After the general introduction of each religion, students are told about the different

religious communities in Ireland as a result of immigration:

Christianity is the main, but by no means the only, religion in Ireland. There are also thriving Jewish and Muslim communities. As more and more people come from different parts of the world to live in Ireland, they will bring their religions with them (ibid, p.83).

Although Buddhism and Hinduism feature in the introduction, no reference is made to these two religions as being practised in Ireland.

The comprehension section that follows puts emphasis on religious individuality by asking the students for example to “talk about religious practices [they] know” (ibid, p.84), to “write a paragraph about [their] religion” and to “name some of the important celebrations of [their] religion” (ibid, p.85). The educational text, coupled with the exercises, could be the basis for an interfaith dialogue which could help students to learn more about each other. Furthermore, it reflects the religious diversity in Ireland.

6.5 “It‟s Not Fair!... That I‟m Little” In the text “It‟s not Fair!... that I‟m little” (Trolls, Squirrels and Dragons, pp.46-49, Appendix C, p.XVI-XVII), Kitty is being teased and laughed at by Tom for being small. When Kitty complained to her mum that she did not think it was fair for her to be small, her mum said that “most people have got something about themselves they would like to change” (Trolls, Squirrels and Dragons, p.48). Kitty decided to find out what the children in her school did not like about themselves and discovered that all children were different. “Some tall, some small. Some fat, some thin. Some dark, some fair. Some shy, some bold. Some who could sing, some who could swim.

Some dainty, some clumsy...” (ibid, p.49).



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