[EDITORIALS]Time to Look at Our TextbooksThe government decided to enforce the revised scheme for middle and high school history education starting next year as originally scheduled. Korean modern and contemporary history becomes a high school elective and middle school Korean history classes are downscaled. First proposed in 1997, the scheme emphasizes giving students a choice in their studies. It divides high school Korean history into two parts: a required general course for first graders; and Korean modern and contemporary history, an elective subject for second and third graders.
The mandatory Korean history class for first graders will cover the political history of the ancient period through the modern era, but it includes social, cultural and economic topics only until the start of the late Choson period. Japanese aggression, including the so-called "comfort women," may be neglected in the required Korean history class. The education authorities said they would urge students to take the modern and contemporary history elective, but considering the fierce competition to enter universities, how many students will actually choose such class over relatively easier subjects? The goal of history education is to learn the present through the past and to prepare for the future. An understanding of modern and contemporary history, which has direct influence on our present lives is the focal point of history education. But a persistent ideological dispute among historians over the significance of left-wing parties in the national independence movement and the contemporary democracy movement makes them tend to ignore those parts of our history. We should not allow history education be paralyzed because of such disputes. How can we criticize Japan's distortions if we don't teach our children history?
Although we are in an era of globalization, most countries enforce education in national history. In France, history is required all during schooling, and most U.S. states require all students to take U.S. history classes. It is time for us to start a new history education system in step with the world. The recently revised education scheme must be reappraised.