No to textbook politicsThe controversy over revisions to modern Korean history textbooks used in high schools is mounting. As the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology unveiled its draft recommendations focusing on the revision of left-leaning content in history textbooks, some of the writers told the press they would not accept the government recommendations.
One of the biggest culprits behind this controversy is the education authorities’ manner of acting only according to its present situation.
The Education Ministry, which disseminated teaching and learning materials of modern history to high schools nationwide in its initiative to intensify the nation’s modern history education, met with resistance three years ago.
Nonetheless, now it is preparing to hurriedly overhaul the textbooks after the launch of a new administration.
The recommendations also fail to get to the point. For example, it changed just a few minor points ?? such as “confiscating rice” to “collecting rice” and “finally” to “hereafter.”
The Education Minister is entitled to order the revision of authorized texts, but the authors should be at the forefront of making appropriate corrections.
We are not saying that they should be forced to shift from the left to the right and satisfy all the demands of the new administration. We have already criticized the alternative textbook published by the New Right Union for justifying the dictatorship of authoritarian leaders of the past.
Authors insist that diversity in describing our history should be allowed. But textbooks are not private theses. They are more comparable to the keynote speech at a seminar. Textbooks have tremendous influence on our young students. They should reflect the shared thoughts of our society - the consensus rather than any specific ideologies.
The procedural flaws should not hide intrinsic attributes. Furthermore, this year’s College Scholastic Ability Test is supposed to include modern history in its range of possible questions.
If there is a problem, we should correct it. However, we should not make the mistake again of showing an inclination toward the far right. A review of textbooks will be carried out three years from now. Until then, the screening system should be overhauled thoroughly.
Regardless of the changes in political regimes, our children should be able to read Korean textbooks of integrity.