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The Boy in the Bubble

Education as Personal Relationship

ISBN13: 9781847304056

ISBN10: 1847304052

Publisher: Veritas Publications (15 Mar. 2013)

Extent: 202 pages

Binding: Paperback

Size: 1.9 x 14 x 21 cm

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    Mark Patrick Hederman, former headmaster of Glenstal Abbey School, and now Abbot of Glenstal Abbey, looks at the flaws in the Irish education system and how it should be doing more to develop the imagination of our children to help them meet the challenges that lie ahead.


    Drawing on examples from literature and popular culture, Hederman proposes a child-centred model of education, containing self-directed and independent learning, which encourages the student to play an active role.


    By turns cutting and humorous, The Boy in the Bubble is an astute portrait of a system which has been criticised by many as being outdated and destructive, and offers in its place a fresh and progressive vision for the future of education in Ireland.

  • Mark Patrick Hederman

    Mark Patrick Hederman has been a monk of Glenstal Abbey in Limerick for over thirty years. Formerly headmaster of the school, and currently academic dean, he did his doctorate in the philosophy of education. He studied in Paris under Emmanual Levinas. He has lectured in philosophy and literature in America and Nigeria as well as Ireland, and was a founding editor of the cultural journal The Crane Bag. His first book, Kissing the Dark (Veritas, 1999) was a bestseller.

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    The revolutionary Patrick Pearse described the Irish education system of his time as The Murder Machine and in The Boy In The Bubble Mark Patrick Hederman expresses a similar sentiment in different terms through a wide-ranging and profound reflection as well as a razor sharp and often humorous analysis of many contemporary aspects of education. He primarily places enormous responsibility on the shoulders of those who are entrusted with the education of others to bring the learner to personhood; that space between individual isolation and the world around us and at the heart of his thesis is the centrality of imagination and creativity in the process of learning. But alongside the educational process itself there is an unavoidably political dimension to his reflection as he challenges those presently in power, who preside over the continuing disparity of philosophies between primary (child-centred ethos) and secondary (the world of Leaving Cert Points) to the detriment of the whole person. He also suggests we learn from other systems such as that of Finland where after a severe recession they decided that increased investment in education was the roadmap to recovery with suitably successful results and Brazil where Paolo Freires methodology combined with Holy Ghost Missionary Fr Pat Clarkes faith community transformed the future of Sao Paulos impoverished favelas. As a long time practitioner he also brings personal and practical insights to the discussion born of a wealth of classroom and educational experience. This is a warm and witty read over twelve chapters which is worth reading for the one on Glenstal Abbey School alone where the author has spent over 50 of its 81 years of existence and where he formed and practised an enviable and holistic model of education. Hopefully this stimulating study will encourage similar emulation and permit each precious individual learner to find themselves.


    – Fr Paul Clayton-Lea, Intercom, May 2013

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