‘Why History Matters’
The CHANCELLOR OF the National University of Ireland, Dr Maurice Manning chairs a group of leading authors and academics set up to advise the Government on centenary commemorations of major events from the period 1912-1916. Dr Manning said the principal role would be to advise the Government and the all-party Oireachtas group on the overall commemorative programme and many specific issues: “In particular, it will seek to set a tone that is inclusive and non-triumphalist, ensuring authenticity, proportionality and openness.” (Irish Times, 7th March, 2012)
Both An Taoiseach and the Minister for Education and Skills have commented on the importance and role of history in the life of the citizen.
‘Eamon de Valera? Did he play for
‘In this golden age, let’s not throw away our history….. The new Junior Cert syllabus, mistakenly, is set to downgrade the study of our past’
‘WHAT RUAIRI QUINN DID NOT SAY!!’
‘… History has a very bright future in our Junior Cert classrooms.
‘Mr Quinn, please don’t be the one to bring about the end of history’
‘…Instead of removing history from the junior cycle, the Government should make it compulsory up to the end of secondary schooling…..’
‘A commitment to comprehensive, contextual treatment of the period means a casting aside of preconception and a fresh-eyed read of the events of that decade [1912 – 1922].’
No history, no future?
‘CULTURE SHOCK: HISTORY MATTERS IN IRELAND, not least because the past is so unsettled.’
‘Understanding history is how we try to reach the future without repeating the calamities of the past’
‘the more we understand the past, the more we understand ourselves and our neighbours.’
‘As we move into the decade of commemorations that stretch before us, from the 100th anniversary of the Third Home Rule Bill ….. 1916, the Somme, and beyond it is imperative that the social, cultural, economic, administrative and political environments that shaped these events be understood.’
The Council of Europe and History
The Council of Europe has issued several reports on the significance and the learning of history.
The European Schools – SCHOLA EUROPAEA
The European Schools are official educational establishments controlled jointly by the governments of the Member States of the European Union.
History for All ?: House of Commons Report, 2013
The report’s conclusions are based on the results of four separate evidence sessions, taken by the All Party Parliamentary Group on History and Archives. A wide range of history teachers and representatives from the historical community were consulted, as well as representatives from various exam boards.
The terms of reference for the inquiry were to examine the current state of History provision in schools, and to ask the question of whether History should be made compulsory for all pupils, up to the age of 16.
2.we are concerned about the wide educational divide in this country when it comes to studying History, which is that in affluent areas History is studied well and widely, whereas in many more deprived areas it has been neglected and ignored. It is important that the Department for Education does not allow perverse incentives to develop, which might suppress the take-up of History in poorer areas.
6. There is also an issue in some schools of head teachers trimming the study of History to the absolute minimum, through poor understanding of how it differs from a core subject like Mathematics, in terms of National Curriculum levels. This can lead to an excessive focus on content, inhibiting understanding and maturity of thought.
7. We recommend investigating the development of a British history qualification at 16 that is based on a broad chronological framework across all periods, which could encompass local, national and international perspectives on British history
Ofsted Report, ‘History for All’, 2011
Since the publication of the report ( based on evidence from inspections of history between 2007 and March 2010) a debate has raged on the position of history in English schools. Certain trends have been noted, which may yet prove relevant to the Irish system, if history were to be removed as a core subject. The report noted:
‘In England, history is currently not compulsory for students beyond the age of 14 and those in schools offering a two-year Key Stage 3 course can stop studying history at the age of 13. In almost all the countries of the European Union, it is compulsory to study history in some form in school until at least the ages of 15 or 16. History is compulsory until the age of 14 in Northern Ireland, the Netherlands and Wales, and all pupils study history as part of their broad general education in Scotland until they are 15.”
History for all. pdf
‘The study of History, a subject which should unite us as one nation, has now become the subject of two nations. In entire communities and schools, often in some of the most deprived areas of the country, the study of History has been shunned…… Compare this with our European counterparts, all of whom teach history in some form to 16, and it seems we sit isolated: Embarrassingly, Britain remains the only country apart from Albania where History is not compulsory beyond 14′. Chris Skidmore, M.P., March, 2012:
History in Schools- A School Report.pdf
The following newpaper articles and the Historical Association survey reflect many of the concerns highlighted in the report and pertinent to the current Irish debate:
Recent parliamentary debates in Britain on the role and importance of history in the curriculum
Click on links below to read the full articles:
UK Curriculum Review, 2011
Click on link below to read the full article: