[Student Voices]Require study of history

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[Student Voices]Require study of history

Korean history dates back 5,000 years, whereas the United States is not even 250 years old. However, Korea takes its history for granted. In contrast, the study of U.S. history is compulsory for all students in that country. Now think of the Dokdo islets. They most certainly belong to Korea, and there is enough evidence to prove it, evidence that far predates the evidence presented by Japan.

So why is Korea losing the battle over Dokdo? It is because most people do not even know about the existence of such evidence. They just have the pig-headed belief that it belongs to them. We should learn more about our history because it is a part of our country’s identity.

Korean colleges rarely make history a compulsory course in the curriculum. Most students have trouble memorizing facts and numbers, and so decide not to go to colleges which require the subject. Only a few schools such as Seoul University require history. This should be changed. If history is not needed for entrance to college, there is a great possibility that students will not pay full attention to the course in high school.

Besides, what they learn will not be retained long. Studying only for a test is cramming. After the exam, the knowledge just seeps out of the student’s mind and memory.

Therefore, if history is not a compulsory subject throughout students’ entire education, they will not try to truly learn it.

Our history is part of who we are. We are who we are because of what our ancestors did in the past. Therefore, ignoring history is turning a blind eye to our identity. We need to know what happened in the past, for that is who we are and who we may become. History is not the tedious memorization of hard, cold facts. It is knowledge of what we must know.

Students of today do not even know the major events in Korean history, including the Korean War. Many students do not even know when the war occurred. Obviously, this is wrong. The Korean War caused massive deaths and suffering, and divided the nation. It is a part of what made our country what it is today. Yet many students, the future pillars of society, know nothing about it. This is preposterous. We need to reinforce the generally overlooked history classes.

Prominent schools such as KMLA and Seoul University both include Korean history in their curriculums. How can this be news? What is news to me is that most schools do not include it. History study should be compulsory. This must not be sacrificed for student convenience. Students are in school to learn, and to learn, they will have to go through some hardship. How can they just study what is easy to learn, just for their pleasure? We should not be so lenient in our education. We must not take education so lightly.

To conclude, the current state of overlooking history as a vital and necessary basis of knowledge is a disgrace. Most of the leading nations in the world make history a compulsory course. Why is Korea falling behind when we have such a long and grand history to boast of? Is our long history a burden blocking the subject’s development? That should not be an issue. The longer it is, the more effort we should put into mastering it. We need schools to make history study mandatory, for it is an aspect of our identity. If all our students are fully aware of our history, there would be no controversy over Dokdo. All we do now is criticize Japan, yelling at it for shamelessly attempting to steal what is ours, when actually we do not even know why it is ours.

I believe that the Dokdo controversy is an indicator of our ignorance of history. We must therefore raise the importance of the subject.

Bummul Middle School, Daegu

by Park Sung Hyun

*e-mail to eopinion@joongang.co.kr or via fax to 82-2-751-9219
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