History and the curriculum
Sir, – By giving history “special core status”, Minister for Education Joe McHugh has essentially made the Framework for Junior Cycle document null and void as it has removed a key principle that it stands on choice and flexibility for schools and students.
This was never about whether history was important, which unfortunately is where the debate went.
This was about giving schools, students and parents choice and autonomy in how their local school supports teaching and learning at Junior Cycle. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – It’s good to see that history will not now be consigned to history. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – It is of great concern that we have an education system in Ireland which can be radically altered by the personal preference of the Minister for Education. We have a national curriculum authority for a reason. I wonder what the next Minister’s pet project will be? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The decision by the Minister for Education to ensure that history resides at the core of the Junior Cycle is to be welcomed. But why did it need to come to this?That politicians, including those in opposition parties, had to effectively campaign for a reconfiguration of a complex curriculum mosaic? An analysis of the history curriculums in our European neighbours will show overwhelmingly that history is at the core of their junior programmes. This U-turn calls into question the groupthink that consigned history to the margins in the first place. Mr McHugh’s decision to allow all students to access history is one that will empower and benefit local communities in myriad ways. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The Minister for Education deserves a lot of credit for having the political courage to reject the advice of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment in regard to the status of history at Junior Cert level.
The decision to give history a “special core status” brings to an end a farcical situation in which students could complete secondary education while formally learning very little about the key political and societal events that have shaped the island in which we live.
The progressive teaching of history can foster a sense of inclusion, a respect for diversity and also strengthen awareness of civic responsibilities in the next generation, who will help shape the future of this island.
All too often in Europe’s past century, an ignorance of history was fostered or exploited by those who wished to shore up extremist views and anti-democratic positions.
Joe McHugh’s decision is not only academically sound. It will also help to underpin progressive democratic citizenship in this country, which is something we can all support. – Yours, etc,
Dr BRIAN MURPHY,