Irish education: Students broaden learning in Ireland

By: ISU Communications and Marketing Staff, ISU Communications and Marketing Staff
March 16, 2011

Seven Indiana State University students stood in front of the classroom - some with broad grins, a few with shy smiles - with their right hands placed over their hearts.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America," they intoned together though no U.S. flag flew in the classroom where they stood. "...and to the republic, for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," they finished reciting together.

The university students recited for fifth and sixth year children who had just finished with their morning religious devotions before beginning the task of learning Gaelic. In reciting the pledge, the ISU students showed elementary students in rural Ireland how many American students begin their days at school.

"I was glad they didn't make us sing because I can't sing," laughed Coriann Arts, an elementary education major from Waveland referring to the school principal's request that the students sing the "Star Spangled Banner."

From the west to the east coast of Ireland, the Indiana State students experienced nature, history, geological formations, dancing, music and education as part of their spring break trip to Ireland.

Ashton Ruppe, a junior elementary and special education major from Chrisman, Ill., said from learning inside Irish classrooms to watching the quick steps of Irish dancing the trip was "a great experience for me in a majority of ways."

"From my little town people just don't do this," she said. "From me to have this experience to take back, I'll be like, ‘I did this.'"

The trip, which Kathy Bauserman, associate professor of elementary education, schedules for the week of ISU spring break, introduces the education students to a culture that is similar with language but different enough to allow students to learn new customs.

"I brought the students here to experience another culture and so we could learn about the educational system in Ireland," Bauserman said as she stood on the limestone outcropping known as the Burren and in front of the Poulnabroune Dolmen - a tomb thought to be older than Egypt's pyramids. "It's important to expose our students to a lot of different educational systems in this global, diverse world."


Students spent the first three days of their journey in western Ireland. In addition to experiencing the Burren, they also visited the craggy, towering Cliffs of Moher, the second largest stalactite hanging in Doolin Cave and the rugged ruins of Clonmacnoise. They took Irish country dancing lessons at Vaughn's Barn in Kilfenora before attending the local ceili.

Arts said while she usually doesn't like to dance she enjoyed advancing and retreating in the four-square formations or lines used in Irish country dancing.

"I liked it better because I actually knew some of the steps," she said after dancing a set.

While Kristen Marina, a sophomore elementary education major from Terre Haute, found the Cliffs of Moher "breathtaking," she also enjoyed seeing the Irish countryside blossoming into spring with newborn lambs gamboling about their mothers.

"Driving down the road, it really looks how it looks in the movies," she said. "So that's awesome."

But the trip had an educational component beyond experiencing Irish culture. Students also visited a rural school in Lisdoonvarna in County Clare, where they recited the pledge. They then returned to Dun Laoghaire, near Dublin, where they spent three days observing in schools.

"We spend some time in rural schools. We spend most of our time in Dublin urban schools," Bauserman said. "The schools are low-income schools so that they get to experience supports that Ireland feels are important for children that come from low income."

Lucy Winter, a junior elementary education major from Indianapolis, said her favorite part of the trip was her three days at Holy Family School in Monkstown.

"I really like this school," she said. "There's just a really good relationship between the teachers and then the teachers with the students and just the other staff members. It's more like a family. It's not just a place where you work or a place where you go to school. They're all connected. They all work with each other and help each other."

Maggie Goss, a senior special education and elementary education major from Speedway, said her time in Ireland will help her when she begins her job search.

"As an education major that (learning in Ireland) is one of the things that gives me experience and maybe a little edge over the competitors when we graduate," she said. "It's broadening for the students because there's a whole world out there."

Brittany Parrett, a junior elementary education and special education major from Michigan City, agreed that it impacts the education majors as well as their future students.

"It's important because there's such a big world out there. It sounds really cheesy, but there's so much more out there besides ISU, Terre Haute or the state of Indiana," she said. "It's really important to see those different views and get those different experiences that you can't get where we're at."

Jenny Schindler, sophomore elementary education major from Nabb, agreed that a wider world view is important.

"I am gaining a broader insight into the world and education by observing other schools in other countries and how they teach," said Schindler. "I want to take back the experience and the knowledge, just to be able to share with my family friends - my classroom even - just to expand their horizons through pictures and memories."

Photos:
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Indiana State University students recite the Pledge of Allegiance in front of Irish elementary students. ISU Photo/Jennifer Sicking

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Coriann Arts, sophomore elementary education major, looks at a tombstone at Clonmacnoise. ISU Photo/Jennifer Sicking

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Ashton Ruppe, sophomore elementary and special education major from Chrisman, Ill., learns Irish dance steps. ISU Photo/Jennifer Sicking

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Lucy Winter, junior elementary education major from Indianapolis, visits the Poulnabroune Dolmen - a tomb thought to be older than Egypt's pyramids. ISU Photo/Jennifer Sicking

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Jenny Schindler, sophomore elementary education major from Nabb, makes her way across the Burren landscape. ISU Photo/Jennifer Sicking

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Maggie Goss, senior elementary and special education major from Speedway, visiting Clonmacnoise. ISU Photo/Jennifer Sicking

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Brittany Parrett, junior elementary and special education major from Michigan City, and Kristen Marina, a sophomore elementary and special education major from Terre Haute, try the whispering archway at Clonmacnoise. ISU Photo/Jennifer Sicking


Contact: Kathy Bauserman, associate professor of elementary education, at 812-237-2853 or at kathryn.bauserman@indstate.edu

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, associate director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or jennifer.sicking@indstate.edu