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Jim Kirwan (2011)

Jim Kirwan

Jim Kirwan

I was a teacher of English at secondary level for 37 years, two of which were spent on the Lesotho-Ireland Secondary Teachers’ Programme in the 1980s. After I retired in 2010 and after doing some voluntary Development Education work with Self Help Africa (SHA) in schools, I decided that I needed to know more. I studied for the Masters in Development Studies in Kimmage and I am now back facilitating Development Education workshops for SHA. My most significant achievement since graduating from Kimmage has been the change which I brought to the manner in which I now work in the classroom. My experience as a teacher of English was of a distinctly pedagogical classroom which was exam-orientated and points-driven. The art of facilitation in Development Education is different. It calls for an active classroom with participatory exercises and it values the knowledge of students. During my teaching career I was used to doing, used to imparting knowledge as a “package”. In my time with students now I try to encourage them to become critical thinkers which could lead to them undertaking action for change, however small that action may be.
What has remained with me from my time in Kimmage and, indeed, what has been most enlivening for me is my constant desire to keep learning about development issues. I have completed a course on Trade Justice and attend seminars and conferences on issues relevant to Development Education and Development in general. I also have become more of an activist for development causes, having recently participated in protest marches on behalf of community workers’ organisations and the Dublin March against Monsanto. I have joined Cómhlámh and frequently find myself signing petitions for developmental causes on social media.

So the Kimmage Development Studies Centre experience has definitely expanded my thinking and made me a more conscientious and active citizen of my own community but also of the fragile planet on which we precariously survive.


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