Tomorrow’s Lesson


With the removal of history and geography as Junior Cycle core subjects, is the Government hoping for a new generation of citizens who don’t know who they are, where they are from, and why things are the way they are?

Louisa Moss,
Dublin 7.


History and geography (The Irish Times letters page)

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48 thoughts on “Tomorrow’s Lesson

  1. newsjustin

    On the plus side, more novelty and innovation in the secondary school subjects mean additional opportunities for the hard pressed school book publishers.

    1. Optimus Grime

      Having previously worked for one I can tell you that the exam papers market margins were something akin to heroin and cinema popcorn!

      1. The Old Boy

        Ha! I’ve heard various stories over the years of teachers demanding that pupils (or rather, their hard-pressed parents) buy that year’s exam papers, even though a hand me down copy can easily be supplemented with papers now freely available on the State Examination Commission website. Ditto teachers requiring either Edco or Folens papers, despite identical content.

  2. Spaghetti Hoop

    It’s shocking that they are removing these core subjects. This country’s school leavers were once applauded for their broad knowledge and that was down to a curriculum inclusive of arts, humanities, science, languages etc. It’s not just about knowing about ‘where they are from’ it’s about knowing about other countries too. Look at how little the general population in Britain know about history and geography outside of Britain? Their foreign secretary called Slovenia an ex-Soviet vassal state and most of them, when surveyed, had no clue where their own border was. We too will be churning out a generation of dumb-wits the more we tinker around with what was a perfectly fine curriculum.

    1. The Old Boy

      Britain got into a frenzy of curriculum tinkering from the 70s onwards, peaking with the demise of O-levels in 1988 before settling down again in the 1990s. The general consensus is that, on reflection, this was a very bad idea, but attempts to rectify it have hardly been competently executed. The whole thing eventually descended rather nasty ideological battle between the Guardian and Birkenstock brigade and those who have fond memories of omniscient gowned masters and the sound of rattan on backside.

    1. postmanpat

      It is not dropped, people have been given an option to choose. Freedom. scary to fearful cowardly small-minded people like the Louisa Moss, but I like to try and give kids some credit. Making education more encouraging for young people by giving them a choice? Shudder!!!!

  3. postmanpat

    But kids can chose to study history if they have an interest, and kids that don’t have an interest wont be forced. So I don’t see the problem? The Junior cert history syllabus and Leaving cert Leaving that I actually chose to do did not explain to me the way thing really where. For example global financial crash in 2008 that effected everyone. Maybe I should have chose economics as a leaving cert subject? Maybe Economics should be a compulsory subject throughout primary and secondary school? Because hundreds of hours of Irish, Geography. culturally biased history lessons focused exclusive on Ireland, Europe, a smidgen of US history and zero Asian history did little to educate people to the debt the middle class were put in for life, working class wage slaves for life , mortgaged to the hilt, blindly accepting predatory loans and cashback offers on new mortgages with little to no understanding of financial systems?

    1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      Hold on there a minute. You say people shouldn’t be forced to study history and geography then end up saying they should be forced to study economics? History is a huge part of economics. Everything is cyclical.

    2. Spaghetti Hoop

      I think what you’re missing here is that education maketh the person – it’s not just a piece of parchment, points for college, route to a job. Being capable of holding a conversation in a wide variety of topics, understanding the news reports, knowing when the Irish Civil War kicked off and why, knowing where Venezuela and North Korea are – just having that foundation of general knowledge is priceless.

    3. rotide

      You are saying that your leaving cert history didn’t cover the 2008 crash?

      This post has made me feel older than a lifetime of Johnny calling me an aul lad.

      1. postmanpat

        No, what in saying is the school curriculum didn’t teach kids to think. Just to learn facts with no emphasis to apply these lessons to the real world therefore missing the point of education in the first place. It was all about the exam points. There are plenty of educated people who still got financially f**ked in 2008 and will be feeling the effects for another decade, yet they know the history of every little minor Irish skirmish fought on vinegar hill or wherever against the hated British from seventeen dickidy-dick to nineteen sixteen. But I’m sure that knowledge makes them feel good when they pack shelves or rot away in a cubicle in some office , grateful that they at least still have a job., listening to podcasts about The ‘Nam to distract from the fact that they will be wage slaves till the day they die.

    4. Ciuncainteach

      If you want to understand what happened during the global financial crash of 2008, then the dismal science is the last place you should consider looking for answers.

      1. postmanpat

        Jesus….it not about the crash, its about how so many ordinary people got caught up in it needlessly. Ill.. explain again. If people had a basic grasp of economics & finance as much as they understood ox bow lakes or ancient roman vomitoriums then you would have less people still up to their neck crippling debt then they are today. Its all well and good knowing about the Irish Civil War but what good is that if your terrible at money? The banks are advertising 2 % cashback offers with mortgages , openly on TV!!!, no one seems to get it, we are on the way to another crash and people are more worried that their kids will no longer be forced learn about medieval castles or Irish Plantations in a school setting.

  4. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    I will certainly force Baby Andy to study both, whether she likes it or not. I think this decision is absolutely appalling.

    1. millie st murderlark

      Dead right there Andy. How could you allow a child go forth without knowing something of our history?

    2. The Old Boy

      Hear hear. In my own case, well-taught history at secondary school put me right on some of the rather misty-eyed corruptions of history as it was presented in national school. I hope schools will use their discretion to insist on pupils taking these subjects, as many of them currently do with religion.

    1. Mickey Twopints

      Sounds to me like a good recipe for the development of a whole generation of flat-earther creationists.

        1. Boj

          I get the dislike of religion but surely this subject is 100% intertwined with History! To be ignorant of any/all religion is a misstep in anyone’s education imo.

  5. Zaccone

    We’re going to have a generation of kids who haven’t studied history or geography, but who will have wasted how many education hours on religion and Irish? Its absolutely insane.

    English, maths, history and a modern European language should be core subjects for the Leaving Cert.

    1. Boj

      That’s a very narrow education there, best of luck with that.
      My kids are gonna blow your kids outta the water!! haha

    2. postmanpat

      Cant you read? It wont be a generation of kids. Some kids who don’t have an any interest simply wont be forced by the school to study the Junior cert history syllabus which is culturally biased in the first place. Some will be forced by their parents anyway. Maybe this outrage is just lazy parents who don’t show an interest in their kids natural abilities? I like studying Spanish and history on my own but if my kid no longer wants too do it during school by the age of 12, it will be disappointing sure but ill respect their decision and help them out in any way I can in the subjects they actually do show a gift for, like biology or science or art. What will the actual drop out rate be? 15 percent?

  6. Pip

    Why not make everything optional post Junior Cert, and support with quality guidance on choices.
    For many LC maths is a complete waste of time and deeply unpleasant.
    Junior Cert maths more than enough for many of our lives.
    Quadratic equations and calculus anyone?
    Didn’t think so…

    1. Janet, I ate my avatar

      at last a sensible idea, a broad approach with the basics and essentials in all subjects until junior with a fine tuning there after

      1. postmanpat

        yeah right! like the gaeilgeoirs would ever open the door for 95% of students opt out of Irish. Never going to happen.

    2. scottser

      they should have useful questions:
      anto gets a nine bar on tick from deco till paddy’s day. how many 10 spots does he have to sell per week to pay back deco without getting a dig in the jaw again?

    3. Spaghetti Hoop

      Ah here. Why not let the kids wander in whenever they wake up and only study what they think might be useful. It’s not like we need engineers, designers, doctors and lawyers in the future or anything

      1. postmanpat

        We actually wont need most of them .Most things will be automated by the time this years secondary school entrants finish sixth year in 2025. Expect to see an increase in compulsorily (waste of time ) 4th year in most secondary schools ,while the powers that be desperately try to buy time to figure out what to do. My advise to kids is to leave school after the junior cert and save come money in some bearable job and go travel/working as soon as they’re 18 . Forget college . It’s a pyramid scheme. You can learn everything off you-tube anyway.

    4. Tony O'Leary

      Absolutely agree – first to go optional should be Irish.
      Thirty years after the LC, the only thing I use Peig for is to remind myself how much I grew to hate Irish and how little I use it. (Does ‘Slainte’ count?)

  7. Pip

    Why thank you, Janet. Until 1959, folk doing Arts (even the likes of Divinity) at TCD had to pass the Final Freshman exam or ‘Little Go’ in order to progress. It had things like maths in it which was greatly upsetting for quite a few including my dad.

  8. Tony O'Leary

    Absolutely agree – first to go optional should be Irish.
    Thirty years after the LC, the only thing I use Peig for is to remind myself how much I grew to hate Irish and how little I use it. (Does ‘Slainte’ count?)

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