The true story of one teacher’s career at one of the most notorious schools in North Belfast. It Wasn’t Me, All Right?is Robert Rooney’s startlingly honest account of his teaching career, having taught adolescents deemed not only beyond education, but by many as beyond discipline.
Although ostensibly for pupils who had ‘moderate learning difficulties’, Robert found himself teaching those who were ‘failing’ in mainstream education. The school in North Belfast achieved a certain notoriety during the sixties, seventies and early eighties not only as a place for children with learning difficulties, but also as a dumping ground for ‘difficult’ pupils.
The resultant intake contained an eclectic range of intelligence, ability and behaviour. There were, however, a small number of teachers who were eccentric enough not only to embrace the challenge but to find it both enjoyable and rewarding. This is one of the few books of its kind that examines how ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland affected teachers and pupils during that period.
While delivering a serious message, this story is enveloped in humour as Robert relays his early bewilderment to the genuine enjoyment of his job with a sincere affection and respect for his pupils. This is not just another book about ‘The Troubles’; there is certainly pathos and tragedy, but the reader’s tears are as likely to be as much from laughter as grief. The reader is offered a unique insight into teaching in one of the most bitter and vicious times in recent history.
It Wasn’t Me, All Right? will intrigue and amuse anyone who attended or taught in schools in Northern Ireland during that period. Aside from this it will also have a much wider appeal to anyone who sees humour as an integral part in the sharper end of education.