What can and what can't be found in school history textbooks has been a source of concern for many years. Besides omissions and insufficient emphasis on certain communities, experts and parents alike contend that some of the text and illustrations in history textbooks are placed there to subtly brainwash young minds. ... Some of these elements contain politically-aligned and narrow views that can skew students' impressions of historical events and their impact on the country and its communities. ... While school history textbooks now make a clear push for a national culture and society, are more comprehensive, and encourage students to be more analytical than in the past, when they were required to merely regurgitate facts and dates for examinations, certain elements in the texts must be reviewed.The thorny issue of whether Malaysian History textbooks for schools are ripe for review is given much space (and the front page) in today's New Straits Times. (Here, here, here and here).
Whose version of history is the correct one? Once again, I don't think anyone has asked the question as effectively as Kee Thuan Chye in We Could **** You, Mr Birch.
I'm no expert on the teaching of history but I think that instead of getting students to swallow what's presented to them as cut and dried facts, students are allowed to see how the events of the past could be interpreted from different viewpoints. It would do their thinking skills no end of good.
I'd also like to see Malaysian students learning a little more world history. I was shocked when I realised my undergrad students knew almost nothing about the Second World War, for example.