Reshaping mindsThe Ministry of Education, Science and Technology launched a committee to develop a new formula for crafting history curriculum. The move is part of an ambitious state project to reinvent history education in elementary, middle and high schools across the country.
The committee, which is comprised of 20 historians and teachers, will create an outline for history textbooks. It will also serve as an adviser and supervisor in the development of these books. This marks the first time that the country has had an independent entity to oversee the content and development methods of history education.
It is now up to the new committee to help restore the integrity of our history education.
The most important task is to ensure that history classes and teachers are headed in the right direction. To do that, the imbalances and distortions in our textbooks must be fixed.
History textbooks should also help students develop their own vision by giving them an accurate understanding of our historical and cultural heritage.
New textbooks should incorporate a stronger narrative on the ancient history of the country to underscore our national roots as well as document the legitimacy of the post-liberation creation of the Republic and the dramatic evolution of modern Korea.
The committee should keep such points in mind when setting the guidelines for textbook compilation and editing.
The teaching method should also change dramatically.
Students should not greet history with a yawn, which is what happens when teachers demand that they memorize countless names and dates. It should be a fun experience, one that allows them to reconstruct the past. Only then will students be inspired and proud of their national background.
Lee Bae-yong, the chairwoman of the committee, said that history education should be about events, stories and people. We believe that history learning should also be able to take students out of the classroom to the places where historical events took place.
The committee’s role should not stop at developing a new framework for history education. It should look to revive Korean history as a mandatory subject from its current optional status in the high school curriculum.
The committee must remember that its endeavors will help shape the minds of future generations.