The teaching of history in Northern Ireland


12813972_926321067465769_1167705849166325773_nThursday 8th September, 8pm:
Malone Lodge Hotel, Eglantine Avenue, Belfast. 
All Welcome
Speaker: Denver Charles, Chair, History Teachers Association, NI.

Recently, QUB’s Vice Chancellor, Patrick Johnston, sensationally said that History degrees are pointless.

“Society doesn’t need any more 21-year-old sixth century historians. It needs a 21-year-old who really understands how to analyse things, understands the tenets of leadership and contributing to society, who is a thinker and someone who has the potential to help society drive forward. I don’t talk about producing graduates, I talk about producing citizens that have the potential for leadership in society.”

Is he right? Does he not appreciate the skills such as critical thinking, perception, judgment and understanding of the past that History as a subject encourages? History surely offers a distinctive education by providing a sense of the past, an awareness of the development of differing values, systems and societies and the inculcation of critical yet tolerant personal attitudes.

Are Historians not essential? The 6th century in Ireland was a rare period of scholarship and elsewhere it also saw the incubation of Islam. As for the teaching of History in Northern Ireland, the perception in the past has been that Catholic schools concentrated on Irish History and in Protestant schools it was largely the history of Britain – or rather England  – that dominated. Has this changed and in what ways? Is History teaching still ‘politically’ biased?