History and the curriculum


Sir, – The idea that history will not be a mandatory subject but will still be an optional part of the curriculum on offer in secondary schools is used to argue against making history compulsory in junior cycle education.

However, this is only part of the picture.

Curriculum is a declaration about what society deems it important for young people to know and be able to do. It is rooted in the social and cultural values and priorities of the time in which it is written.

Therefore, the big picture here is that at this point in our civilisation, when we had a choice to make, we decided that the systematic study of the past is not important enough to be compulsory in the curriculum. This is a significant statement about our values as a society. It indicates that we are complacent about the role of inquiry and reflection on the past in contemporary culture.

It suggests that we prioritise a narrow view of the concerns of our time over understanding the broad sweep of the human story. It implies that we are cavalier about cause and consequence in terms of world events and crises.

This is why decisions about curriculum priorities have a significance beyond subject content in education. – Yours, etc,