VietNamNet Bridge – Educators have all agreed that it’s necessary to rewrite the history textbooks which are too academic and boring for students. However, it’s still unclear who will write the new set of textbooks and what standards to follow when compiling the books.
History hateful at general schools
Dr. Do Bang, Deputy Chair of the Vietnam History Science Association, affirmed that the unreasonably designed history textbooks, plus the academic knowledge, which makes it enigmatic to students, is the main reason behind the students’ reluctance to learn history.
In the eyes of many Vietnamese students, history is the most hateful learning subject, because it’s too difficult for students to remember the events and the dates.
It is considered less important than others (the most important subjects are math, literature and foreign languages, which are the compulsory final exam subjects).
Tran Trung Hieu, a teacher of the Phan Boi Chau High School for the Gifted in Nghe An province, has suggested to increase the time for history teaching by 0.5-1 period (one period lasts 45 minutes).
He said that only once history is defined as an important compulsory learning subject, will the students spend more time on learning history.
Dr. Tran Thi Vinh, a lecturer and historian, noted that Vietnam is the only country in the world where experts have to sit together to discuss many times about the role and the fate of history in general education.
Deputy Minister of Education and Training -- Nguyen Vinh Hien, in August 2012 said at a workshop in Da Nang City that history should be a compulsory subject. However, to date, history remains an optional subject for the high school finals.
However, the idea can be implemented only if the textbooks and the curriculums for history teaching are re-designed to become more reasonable.
“I am afraid that more and more students would dislike history, and people would keep away from learning history. If so, this would be a disaster,” Bang said, stressing the necessity to re-write the textbooks.
Who will compile history textbooks?
Professor Vu Duong Ninh from the Hanoi National University noted that the authors of the textbooks applied at general schools so far were the university lecturers, professors and historian, who had deep knowledge. However, since they don’t understand general school students well, their way of providing knowledge was unreasonable.
Hieu from Phan Boi Chau High School agreed, saying that general school teachers should be allowed to get involved in the compilation process, because they better understand the students’ learning capability and the psychology. Only the teachers can find the best way to make history lessons more understandable and interesting to students.
Sharing the same view, Vinh said that general school teachers need to join the compilation. Meanwhile, university lecturers need to spend their time to attend the history lessons at general schools to find out how the subject is taught for general education. If so, they would be able to find if their textbooks are reasonable or not.
Especially, she has suggested that students should also be allowed to contribute their opinions to the compilation. “It is because teachers write textbooks for general school students, not for adults,” Vinh said.
Nevertheless, before choosing the compilers of the textbooks, it is necessary to set up the national standards for history teaching and learning. And a new question has been raised that who will set up the standards?