Thursday 22 February 2018

Katherine Donnelly: Tradition bites dust in favour of choice

WILL history be consigned to the history books by a new generation of Chinese-speaking, computer scientists?

Will geography bite the dust in some schools because there is a preference for PE and digital media literacy?

There has been much debate about the threat to traditional subjects – history is the one that has generated particular passion – arising from Junior Cert reform.

There is no sword hanging over any subject, but schools will have a new menu from which to choose. They will also have more freedom to decide what serves them, and their students, best.

Most students are expected to take eight and 10 full subjects, or their equivalent, for certification.

And it is "their equivalent" that is adding spice to the mix – students will have the option of studying two or four short courses, by swapping them in place of one or two traditional subjects. An eight-subject student could do eight traditional subjects, or seven and two short courses, or six and four short courses.

English, Irish and maths are compulsory for all, so it leaves only three full subjects for a student opting for four short courses. That is where things will get tricky.

A 10-subject student will have more to play around with, but still have unprecedented choice of courses and modes of assessment, which won't include a written exam. History, and others, will be competing for student favour.

Now, with the publication of the draft proposals for four of the short courses, schools and students have a clearer idea of the difficult and exciting choices ahead.

Irish Independent

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