Keep geography on the agenda

Sir, – I welcome Higher Education Minister Simon Harris’s thoughts on Leaving Certificate reform and the need to teach children about climate change (‘Leaving Cert system’ does not prepare the student for life in the- Beyond Education'”, November 2).

Climate change is already covered in the geography course of the Leaving Certificate. However, it is an ‘elective’ subject, so not all students take it.

Climate change is also included in the geographical specification of the junior cycle.

However, the Association of Geography Teachers of Ireland regularly receives messages from teachers who say that geography has become optional in their school and what can they do about it. Some teachers reported that geography was not even offered as a choice.

This happened because of two decisions. First, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment’s decision to make most subjects optional in the junior cycle. And second, former education minister Joe McHugh’s decision to put history at the center.

Regardless of the merits of these decisions, the effect is that students are already being denied their right to a geographic education that includes a holistic understanding of climate change.

The endlessly repeated mantra of ministry officials, in response to numerous letters, seems to ignore the reality on the ground; schools began to remove geography from their curricula.

If the government is serious about climate change, I expect to hear that the decision has been made to reintegrate geography into the core curriculum of the junior cycle.

Everything else is just hot air.

– Yours, etc.,

Pierre LYDON,

President,

association of

Geography teachers

of Ireland, Dublin 22

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