The specification for Junior Cycle History provides a framework for students to acquire the historical skills, conceptual understanding and substantive knowledge that lead to a sense of historical consciousness, whereby students can see the world and their place in it from an historical perspective. It has been designed for a minimum of 200 hours of timetabled student engagement across the three years of junior cycle.
The specification has three interconnected strands, each with a set of related elements:
Strand One: The nature of history; Strand Two: The history of Ireland; Strand Three: The history of Europe and the wider world.
This unifying strand focuses on the nature of history as a discipline. The strand emphasises the skills, concepts, values and attitudes that inform the learning of history. It helps to form students as historians.
There are three interrelated elements to strand 1:
Each element is associated with a range of learning outcomes that set out what the student should know or be able to do, following their engagement with the strand.
As strand 1 is the unifying strand, it is intended that its learning outcomes should inform students’ engagement with strands 2 and 3, which are contextual strands. The skills, concepts, values and attitudes that are central to the work of the historian should inform and underpin engagement with the historical personalities, issues and events that students will encounter in strands 2 and s.
NB: Therefore, while the learning outcomes in strand 1 can of course be addressed discretely and prior to engaging with strands 2 and 3, they should also permeate the learning when students are engaging with substantive historical context in strands 2 and 3.
A sense of chronological awareness and appreciation of date patterns should be a strong focus of this integration of learning across all three strands. Developing and maintaining timelines is a means of allowing students to engage meaningfully with this aim.
This structure is consistent with a non-linear approach to engaging with learning outcomes. Strands 2 and 3 provide the context for students to deepen their understanding of the nature of history as a discipline. Therefore, the learning outcomes in strand 1 will be integrated with those in strands 2 and 3. This does not preclude teachers from engaging separately with learning outcomes in strand 1. For example, teachers may work with students on acquiring 'a big picture' in terms of an overarching framework of the past before looking more specifically at learning outcomes in strands 2 and 3, or may explore concepts such as 'cause and consequence'.
Being historically conscious means that students acquire a distinctive way of seeing the world and their place in it from an historical perspective. They are aware of the impact of change, both short-term and long-term, on the human condition and in different spatial and temporal contexts. They also have a sense of historical empathy or regard for the motivations and actions of people in the past, in the context of their time. They can make judgements about the significance of events in the past, and appreciate the need to examine controversial or contested issues from more than one perspective. Historically-conscious students are mindful of how their environment has been shaped by people and events in the past and bring this historical sensibility to bear in their appreciation of human achievement. Concepts such as viewpoint and objectivity, and cause and consequence, are also considered in this strand element.
Strands 2 and 3 relate to the historical context in terms of personalities, issues and events to which students apply the conceptual understanding and learning gained through strand 1. Strand 2 relates to the history of Ireland while strand 3 relates to the history of Europe and the wider world.
There are three interrelated elements to Strands Two and Three:
Exploring people, culture and ideas
This element relates to the impact of ideas and beliefs about the nature of the human condition, including religious beliefs; ideology; social, economic and cultural ideas.