Junior cycle history format ‘will turn students off’

A proposed new junior cycle history curriculum has been criticised by teachers as overloaded and likely to turn students off taking the subject for Leaving Certificate.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment issued a draft curriculum in March for the subject up to third year.

A consultation period has just closed and a report on the feedback is promised soon.

The draft includes a number of strands, teaching students about Irish, European and world history but also focused on developing historical consciousness, working with evidence and acquiring the “big picture”.

However, the Cork History Teachers’ Association (CHTA), which has more than 200 members around the country, says the course is too content-heavy just like the current Junior Certificate history course.

The draft curriculum has 52 learning outcomes that students must be able to satisfy, compared to 29 in a draft geography curriculum that was also recently out for consultation.

“The excessive number of learning outcomes in history lengthens the course and it puts history students at a disadvantage as they prepare for terminal exams,” the CHTA wrote.

“Students will be overloaded with revision in advance of the terminal exam in third year. This will impact on the choice of subjects for Leaving Certificate,” the report stated.

It said teachers are concerned with what they say will be a dumbing-down effect of examining students at common level only, saying average to good students will not be challenged enough.

The reformed junior cycle will see students examined at common level in all subjects for Junior Certificate, except for English, Irish and maths which will continue to have higher and ordinary-level exams.

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