Irish society has experienced unprecedented demographic change since the turn of the twenty-first century, and increasingly, educators are facing the prospect of having to respond to the changing nature of cultural diversity in their classrooms. Traditionally characterised as ‘Catholic, white and Gaelic’, Irish schools are said to be finding it difficult to recognise and acknowledge new expressions of race, culture and religion. This paper focuses on the challenges facing educationalists in responding to cultural diversity within the Republic of Ireland. Drawing on empirical research conducted in Irish schools, we frame the discussion around a number of practical issues, namely, school dress, curriculum content and academic attainment, and explore the findings using liberal and critical multicultural theories. Finally, the paper contains philosophical discussion of the challenge of responding to cultural diversity and the implications this raises for policy and practice in Ireland.
Source: Irish Educational Studies, Vol. 32, Issue 4, 2013. First published online: 20 Nov 2013