[EDITORIALS]Fight fallacies with historyThe Korean History Education Development Committee, an advisory group of the deputy prime minister of education, has come up with proposals to promote history education. The committee proposed that Korean history classes should be expanded and should be a mandatory subject in state exams.
It is fortunate to see some measures to reinforce the nation’s history education amid Japan’s territorial claim over Tokto and attempts to adopt nationalist textbooks, along with China’s “Northeast Asia Project” that asserts an ancient Korean kingdom is part of its historical record. We hope attempts to reinforce Korean history education are not a passing fad.
At middle and high schools, students only receive two hours of Korean history lessons a week until they are freshmen in high school. Starting with their sophomore year, students are left to choose Korean modern history and world history among 10 social studies electives. Among them, 32.6 percent choose to study Korean modern history while only 9.6 percent select world history.
Korean history, a prerequisite for high school freshmen, focuses on the nation’s history until the late Joseon dynasty. Unless choosing Korean modern history as an elective, students will be blind to their nation’s modern and contemporary past.
While the nation puts so much emphasis on globalization, over 90 percent of our students ignore world history.
Students are not paying much attention to history classes because history is not a mandatory subject in various tests. Korean history is just one of 11 social studies elective subjects on the college admission test. Since 1997, the bar exam no longer covers history. At the national examinations for public servants and diplomats, history was included as a mandatory subject for the last time last month. When history is absent from schools and state examinations, who would bother to study?
It is time to drastically revise the nation’s history education. It is urgent to integrate Korean and world history. Without knowledge and understanding of world history, learning Korean history only will provide students with a narrow-minded historical view.
Cultured citizens must have a correct understanding of Koreans’ historical honor and disgrace in the context of world history. That is the way to win the history war against Japan and China.
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