Wednesday 22 November 2017

Ciaran Brady: Teaching of history is no longer stuck in the past, so let's not leave it there

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn

Ciaran Brady

LET'S be clear about one thing: Ruairi Quinn's desire to allow all secondary school students to opt out of history before the Junior Certificate will effectively kill the teaching of the subject in this country in a short matter of time.

Experience elsewhere shows that giving students the opportunity to drop history inevitably leads most of them to pick other subjects. This in turn means that undergraduates who have not studied history in school chose other subjects in college. Soon, there are no qualified teachers and so even students who want to study history cannot do so. Within a generation, history could become as Latin is today; a subject limited to a few elite schools.

This is not scaremongering. This process is already well under way in Britain where the study of history has been on the backfoot since the Thatcher years, to the dismay of the present government which is currently considering making the subject compulsory (again).

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