[EDITORIALS]Correct economics textsEducation experts conducting research sponsored by the Ministry of Finance and Economy, the Bank of Korea, the Federation of Korean Industries, the Korean Chamber of Commerce and the Korea Development Institute have concluded that among the 114 economics textbooks used by elementary, middle and high school students, many contain outdated or false information. The researchers said they had found 446 instances of false information such as the wrong definitions of economic terms or concepts or incorrect statements based on outdated statistics and data. Some of the mistakes were too serious to ignore, the experts said.
For instance, there were texts that encouraged hostility against corporate or market activities or described capitalism as an inhumane system. Some examples were: “The market is by nature competitive and inhumane as human decisions are made based on money” and “It is generally thought that poverty is not an individual’s responsibility or fate but the fault of a flawed social system.”
There were also instances of textbooks making statements that were never verified as facts. “The economic growth of the 1960s and 1970s was founded upon the sacrifice of laborers working for low incomes.” “The jaebeols expanded their businesses in inefficient ways ? we must reform the jaebeols and save the mid- to small-sized businesses.” It is surprising that the textbooks would print such statements when their truth is still being debated by scholars.
A textbook is the basic tool by which we deliver our knowledge and experiences to the next generation. It is most important that textbooks maintain objectivity, rationality and neutrality. The function of an economics textbook is to teach the basic concepts of economics. It should not preach or judge economics by moral standards. Above all, it should not try to deliver ideological messages to the students. The Ministry of Education should heed the findings of this research and use it to make sure that textbooks are written correctly from now on.