Whilst at my monthly reading group last night, a retired teacher from St. Columbs college was giving us some insight into the facts surrounding education during the 1970’s!

We were discussing Jennifer Johnston’s ‘Shadows on our Skin’ and as it was written in 1977 during the heart of ‘the troubles’ a lot of talk was associated with that time in our country. The protagonist of the novel was a young boy starting out in his secondary education. Life in Derry was portrayed in a very realistic manner and we got to talking about our own experiences of the time.

The said teacher informed us that ‘Biology’ was not a subject at this time in Northern Ireland schools. He arrived in Derry from England in 1975 to embark on a teaching career in Biology. As it was the first time for the subject to be introduced to the curriculum, the school asked him what Biology books they should order. He gave the titles and approximately 500 books were ordered into the school for both O’level and A’level students.

During one of his first classes a student asked why some pages were missing from the book! To his horror, ALL human reproduction pages had been removed from each book! 5oo books had been tampered with! He was completely shocked he told us. The school had purposely removed all of these pages!

It is both funny and shocking all at once! It only served to enhance the curiosity surrounding human reproduction. Imagine in the contemporary world having such a thing happen! One would be horrified…or would everyone?