Leaving Cert history: Popular topics and good choice of questions
Students asked if ‘US presidents always acted for the good of America’
Leaving Cert history students were asked: “From Roosevelt to Reagan, would you agree that American presidents always acted for the good of America?” Photograph: iStock
Students and teachers alike were happy with the higher-level Leaving Certificate history paper, which examined popular areas of the course and offered good choice.
“The questions asked were very mainstream and the format of the paper was recognisable and student-friendly. A question on Martin Luther King and the Montgomery bus boycott would have been very popular with students and it came up on both the ordinary- and higher-level papers.”
Mr Ahern praised a question which required students to critically evaluate evidence and to give their own opinion, as opposed to learn off facts and dates.
“This is a good preparation for the kind of critical thinking they will need for college. Students were asked: ‘From Roosevelt to Reagan, would you agree that American presidents always acted for the good of America?’
“This was an interestingly-worded question with a lot of scope which didn’t force them to answer in a particular way,” said Mr Ahern.
Seán Delap, a history teacher at the Institute of Education, said that the paper was, overall, good and fair.
“Students who put in a decent amount of work shouldn’t have had any difficulties with it. The document study, on the Jarrow march, was very straightforward. The contextualisation question, in part four, gave great scope to students and wouldn’t have caused any problem.
“In topic five, one question on the Apprentice Boys of Derry was a bit tricky and, overall, the choice here may have been as good as in topic three. Some students will have been happy to see RTÉ appear in topic six, as they were hoping it would come up.”
“Students would have been happy with the case studies which looked at sovereignty and partition, the Eucharistic Congress and the impact of the second World War on Belfast. The case study on Sunningdale didn’t show up and some students may have been disappointed by this.”
The ordinary-level paper did not ask anything unfair, he said.
The trickiest document question, on Stalin’s show trials, did not appear, and this will have been a relief to students, he added.
Try this at home: Leaving Cert history
During the period 1949-1989, what was the importance of one or more of the following: changing attitudes towards Irish language and culture; the impact of RTÉ, 1962-1972; Archbishop John Charles McQuaid?