History and the Junior Cycle

Sir, – Over recent days no less than eight items relating to history, education and commemoration have appeared in your opinion, analysis and letters pages. It is a measure of the importance of history that your newspaper has chosen to place it at the centre of public discourse. Among these was the article by Fintan O'Toole on history and historians, (May 7th), where he gave an example of society needing to be saved "from the consequences of ignorance" if its citizens are not exposed to a thorough history education. In contrast, Carl O'Brien(May 3rd) expressed the vague notion that it is acceptable for our young people to study history "in some shape or form" and that this would be sufficient for their understanding of history.

The History Teachers’ Association of Ireland (HTAI) is not satisfied with such vague statements regarding the teaching of history in our schools. We are committed to providing our pupils with a comprehensive three year Junior Cycle course. This can only be achieved if all our young people are provided with the opportunity to study this course and enjoy the insights it provides in to their past and the past of other civilisations. Unfortunately, this is not guaranteed because of the optional status of history as set down in the framework document for the Junior Cycle.

Let’s save our young people from the consequences of ignorance of their past by placing history at the core of the new Junior Cycle. – Yours, etc,




History Teachers’


of Ireland,

Dominican College,

Muckross Park,


Dublin 4.