Cromwell is a remembered in Ireland for his brutality. Stories of Drogheda and Wexford would still send shivers down the spine of school children today. What probably is less know about Cromwell’s reign is his Rule of Saints. Each year the children in my class would laugh at the stringent measures he imposed upon his people – no dancing, no singing, no alcohol, no merriment and not even a Christmas. The bitter irony of the story today means that the joke is lost on the children. The stern restrictions he imposed resemble that of normal life in school’s today.
Our traditional woodwind instruments stand idle in children’s bags for another year as they are deemed as Covid tin weapons of mass destruction. Children sit in ‘pods’ unable to mix indoors with their peers in their classrooms. Indoor singing is strictly prohibited in fear that virus could mutate into another variant upon hearing the Fields of Athenry. A sneeze is like sending a shock wave through a classroom and a cough like an earthquake. Cold classroom eyes survey the phlegmy perpetrator and instinctively that child walks meekly to sanitise their already alcohol ridden hands. The harsh Arctic feeling that has taken hold in classrooms is not just only from winter winds blowing through our windows and doors but also from the lack warmth and compassion that comes through music, drama and dance all of which are impossible to conduct in an Irish classroom today.
This is having a detrimental impact on our children. The inability to freely socialise at school, the encroachment on their liberties and the stifling of the freedom of thought is and will continue to impact negatively on their future. Children are creatures of habit and the lessons we are teaching them today serve no benefit for what is yet to come.