Stressing history a good moveKorean history becomes a mandatory high school course next year. A presidential committee with a mission to develop the framework of improving history education announced that Korean history, which has been optional for the last two years, will be obligatory at all high schools.
The JoongAng Ilbo has repeatedly called for reinforcement of history education at schools so that our future leaders are armed with knowledge of our historical roots and with national pride as they compete in a global community.
We were appalled by the shortsightedness of education authorities for discounting the importance of history even as China and Japan continue to distort ancient history records in their favor.
Moreover, most of the public (91.2 percent in a survey) supports restoring the mandatory status of Korean history in classrooms. Historians have joined the chorus, prompting the president to order that history be included on the national public service exam.
This should mark a new beginning.
Supplementary measures should follow to ensure Korean history is taught right, from now on. To begin with, the content of education should be revised. History education is more than a record of numbers and names. It should contain inspiration to broaden young minds. Our history textbooks still bear remnants of self-consciousness from our colonial days and an ideological imbalance following the Korean War and military regimes. History textbooks should be rewritten to foster a fair perspective.
Students should feel the necessity and desire to study history. Even when the course becomes obligatory, it will be meaningless if history is taught as a mere recitation of information.
History should be a continuing study that does not end in high school, but is a knowledge requirement that can also help people get solid jobs.
Education authorities could consider including Korean history as a required part of the college entrance exam. Before that, history grades at high schools could be one of the criteria universities use when screening new students.
Ultimately, Korean history should be mandatory in written examinations for employment, including civil service.
Korean history education should also be a fun experience. Students are currently forced to take tests on pages of names, places and dates. They should be let out of the classroom to experience a living, not dead, history.