Archive for the ‘History, a core subject.’ Category

A showcase of the Tunku’s photos

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

ROBERT Lim thinks that it is important for the younger generation to know and appreciate the country’s history.

“Without this appreciation, they won’t be able to understand what we went through to achieve the unity we have now.

“And to me, Tunku Abdul Rahman is a strong symbol of unity and peace,” said the owner of Canvas Art Gallery.

This sentiment has prompted Lim to hold numerous photography exhibitions on Malaysia’s first premier the most recent of which was one titled “Tunku: Prince of Peace” held at the Bangsar Shopping Centre (BSC).

Held in conjunction with Malaysia Day, the week-long exhibition featured some 230 photographs of the country’s first premier dating back to the 1940’s.

Lim added that the pictures will be handed over the Malaysian Historical Society, saying that they would now be “responsible to continue showcasing the collection to the public”.

The society’s Kuala Lumpur branch president Abdullah Mad Yunus said that it was an honour to be given the collection.

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Hard to teach history via movies

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Callling for a ban is ill-advised as any artistic work should be judged on its merits.

IF you want to learn about history, read a book. In fact, read more than one because opinions and analyses will differ.

What you don’t do to learn about history is watch a movie.

This is because movies have a primary desire to entertain and in so doing will rarely, if ever, be an accurate depiction of what happened.

Sometimes, the inaccuracies can be pretty harmless, done to add a bit of drama and excitement to the otherwise dull reality.

Take Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story for example. I really enjoyed the movie although by and large, the fighting scenes had more in common with Jackie Chan’s acrobatics than Bruce Lee’s own devastatingly bare bones Jeet Kune Do.

But the one scene that struck me was about how Bruce was almost crippled by a back injury.

In the movie, he got the injury fighting a muscle bound Kung Fu master with long flowing locks who cheated by executing a flying kick into Bruce’s back after he had been soundly defeated by the Little Dragon and Bruce was walking away.

Much more exciting than the truth which was that Lee crocked his back by doing good morning exercise with an overloaded barbell.

There are some movies, though, which distort the truth until it becomes offensive.

U 571 is a World War II movie about how a group of American navy types bravely and heroically managed to obtain the Enigma code machine from the evil Nazis and by doing so, turned the tides of war.

All very thrilling; except that the ones who actually did get the Enigma machine was the Royal Navy and they did it before the Americans even joined the war.

by  Azmi Sharom.

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Teachers urged to make history lessons lively

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: The teaching and learning of History in primary schools should be lively,  fun and creative.

It should also not be made a “must pass” subject in the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR).

These suggestions by the National Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) came in response to the Education Ministry’s move to introduce History as a subject for Year Four pupils from next year.

PTA chairman Datuk Mohd Ali Hassan said it was the right time to introduce history at that level as children would have developed basic reasoning skills by then.

“However, the ministry must develop a curriculum that could capture the interests of the pupils and retrain the teachers from adapting diversified teaching methods.”

He suggested that the curriculum include quizzes, debates, visits to local and national museums and monuments and talks by historical figures.

He said the curriculum should also focus on local history before the students were taught national and international history at the secondary level.

“Pupils should be taught about the contribution of each race to the country’s history and be encouraged to think as a Malaysian,” he said.

NUTP president Hashim Adnan said that the teachers were ready and willing to take on the task of teaching history for Year Four pupils.

“However, it would be a challenge to capture their interest as primary school pupils are easily bored by facts. So, teachers must find ways to make the subject more interesting.”

‘Have proper grasp of nation’s history’

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

VITAL: Teachers should strive to make subject interesting, says don.

KUALA LUMPUR: TEACHERS must vary their techniques to attract students to delve into the nation’s history, apart from focusing on getting good grades.

Associate Professor Dr Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia said teachers should have a passion for history and be more creative in delivering their lectures to attract their student’s attention.

“History is not just a subject and teachers play a vital role in inculcating students’ interest to analyse and gain benefits from the past.

“Learning history is not done only by focusing on the date of important events… the most important thing is to understand the reasons behind the events and learn from our past experience.”

Sivamurugan added that the role of educating youngsters did not only fall on teachers’ shoulders, but also was the responsibility of parents.

“Parents are ‘teachers’ at home and they, too, can help in cultivating their children’s interest in history through the aid of the media, for example by watching Hari ini Dalam Sejarah or the Discovery Channel, together with their children,” he told the New Straits Times.

However, students should be careful in using new media as their sources and be wise in choosing their sources to avoid being mislead.

Echoing Sivamurugan’s statement was Social Science and Humanities faculty lecturer at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Associate Professor Dr Shamsul Adabi Mamat, who believes that teachers should also be equipped with knowledge in information and communications technology (ICT).

“New media is a good source of information which can be used by teachers.

“However, they should provide students with proper guidelines as not all information they get through the Internet is based on facts.”

by Aliza Shah.

Don: Students have poor grasp of history despite scoring ‘A’.

Friday, June 28th, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: Many students have poor knowledge of the country’s history despite being able to score “A” in examinations, said historian Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr. Khoo Kay Kim.

The academic said many not only failed to appreciate but also failed to learn about the country’s fascinating history.

“When I asked who was Tun Tan Cheng Lock, they just smiled and did not know the answer. Some of them don’t even know the history of their own school. It is sad.

“If you know history, you will be surprised what this country is made of,” he said in his presentation at the 2nd Education Nation Conference here yesterday.

Khoo also lamented that today’s examination and result-oriented education system had changed the way students were being educated, where many of them studied by memorising and not learning by understanding.

“Those days, it was difficult to even get 70 marks in history, but now they can score 90 plus.

“Many schoolchildren just memorise essays because they can more or less spot the topics that will come out (in the examinations).”

Khoo said teachers should also re-evaluate their role and be effective educators who could work with students to develop their minds, instead of just helping them to score “A” in the examinations.

Teaching and transforming

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

The person who teaches History as a subject must find new ways to make it interesting as it is about events and people whose actions, good or bad, have affected us.

VARIOUS approaches and methods that are brief yet effective, have been used to deliver the idea of transformation to the public.

The aim is to make society more knowledgeable, appreciative and capable of translating transformation according to their own field, expertise, capability and ability.

When rural folk talk about transformation, it means that they have been exposed and know what transformation is all about.

The size, form and approach become the debatable points, not the question of whether transformation is needed or not.

Everyone has a role to play in national transformation depending very much on their ability which is an important point.

The education fraternity should be aware of national transformation, especially educational transformation.

For educators involved in teaching History, transformation in the subject must be known, appreciated and then implemented.

As generally known, the transformation of national education has empowered the position of History from being a core subject to a subject that must be passed at SPM from 2013.

At the same time, the Education Ministry continues to document History as a core subject in the KSSR (Standard for Primary Schools Curriculum) from 2014.

At present, History is taught as one element of Kajian Sejarah Tempatan or KST (Local History Studies) in primary schools.

This means that all students who sit the SPM from 2013 must pass History as the subject is compulsory.

Learning History is seen as boring, dry and rigid, because learning about the dead requires transformation.

Transformation in History requires teachers to play the role of transformers.

They should have the ability to change the approach, method and strategy, and instructional techniques in order to attract students to the subject.

Students are eagerly waiting to find out the type of approach, method, techniques and strategies the teacher will apply in teaching and learning. Will they have the opportunity to ask questions and voice their opinions this time?

Transformation in teaching and learning of History requires teachers to give space and opportunity to students to voice their opinions and expose their talents as novice historians.

When interest takes the top spot, excellence will follow. This is the transformative education which is not tied down by examination and syllabus that must be finished. Examinations are not the measure of excellence of a student.

by Dr. Siti Hawa Abdullah.

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Historian: Vital for today’s youths to know nation’s history

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

PETALING JAYA: Knowledge of history is important to introduce Malaysian youths to their own country, said historian Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim.

He said many young people were doing strange things, such as stepping on the national flag, because they did not understand or appreciate the country’s history.

“Many people today do not even know the difference between ethnicity and nationality.

“We need to introduce the young to our country so that they understand the unique and interesting history of Malaysia,” he said during a press conference yesterday.

Dr Khoo, 75, a renowned historian, is a professor in the History Department of Universiti Malaya and also the Chancellor of KDU University College.

His contributions to the country include co-authoring the Rukun Negara in 1969.

“Unless you understand history, you cannot understand what is happening in the country today,” he said after receiving RM100,000 in sponsorship from the Sime Darby Foundation.

The contribution is to sponsor the publication of Esei-esei Lengkap Sejarah Malaysia, a compilation of essays by Dr Khoo since 1966.

Writer Eddin Khoo, who is Dr Khoo’s son and the chief editor of the publication, said all of his father’s works would be available in both English and Bahasa Malaysia for the first time.

Sime Darby Foundation council member Tan Sri Dr Wan Mohd Zahid Mohd Noordin praised Dr Khoo for being very passionate about his work.

by P. Aruna.

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New History Syllabus Should Inculcate Strong Personality And Patriotic Spirit

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR:  — The new History syllabus being drawn up for secondary school should be able to inculcate a strong personality and patriotic spirit that will become the basis for unity and nation development, according to the Federation of National Writers Associations (Gapena).

Gapena Chief 1, Prof Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Abu Bakar said the new History syllabus should also be based on the Federal Constitution and the Principles of Rukun Negara.

While lauding the government’s move, he said it was indeed relevant as efforts to inculcate the spirit of love for the country through the subject, were still insufficient.

“The new syllabus should emphasize more on understanding and appreciating the history behind the formation of Malaysia.

“In this context, it cannot run far from the history of the Malay Sultanate, while the role played by other races in the struggle for independence should not be sidelined,” he said when contacted here.


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New History Syllabus For Secondary Schools Being Drawn Up – DPM

Friday, September 7th, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR:  — A new History syllabus is being drawn up for secondary school students in the effort to produce citizens with a high level of patriotism, says Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said this was being carried out based on the views put forward by the Special Committee Studying the History Syllabus and History Textbooks for Secondary Schools.

“The government is paying special attention to the content of the History subject in schools. We have received the report (of the special committee). God willing, we will implement (the recommendations),” he said when opening the 57th Annual Meeting of the Malaysian Historical Society (MHS) at Wisma Sejarah, here, today.

The special committee, set up in May, 2011 and comprises 10 history experts, is chaired by former deputy director-general of Education Tan Sri Omar Mohd Hashim, who is also the MHS executive committee chairman.

The special committee was to review the history syllabus and textbooks for secondary schools to ensure that these could instil love among students for the nation, hence strengthening their loyalty and identity as Malaysian citizens.

Its formation was in line with the government’s policy to make passing History compulsory in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination beginning in 2013.

In a related development, Muhyiddin said the government was always working towards enhancing the professionalism of History teachers so that they could help instil noble values and build good attitudes, understanding and intellect among students to enable them to really appreciate the country’s history.

“The era of regarding History as a side subject and could be taught by anyone has passed.

“We want History to be given a new breath of air, be given dignity and taught by the experts or those with a deep knowledge of history,” he said.

Muhyiddin hoped with the implementation of the policy of making passing History compulsory in the SPM and the subject to be taught in primary schools from 2014, the patriotic spirit and multiracil unity could be fostered among Malaysians from a young age.

For the same objective, he also hoped that the MHS and other non-governmental organisations could actively organise programmes to promote learning and appreciation of the country’s history and heritage.

“I believe that after 59 years of its establishment, the MHS members have the experience to carry out this responsibility to the best of their ability.

“Cooperation among such organisations in this area is important to raise public awareness on the origins of this country and in the formation of a national identity,” Muhyiddin said.

Omar, when met by reporters, said the special committee had submitted the report containing their discussions, which included the recommendations to improve the teaching methods and History subject content, to the ministry about two months.


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Making sense of history

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

If the decision to make history a compulsory pass for the SPM from next year is final, at least ensure that the curriculum is done right.

THE other day I ran into an old friend. Such off-chance meetings are nice and give you the chance to recollect some things together. For those with children, inevitably it leads to talk about what the children are doing.

Her child is 16 now and studying in Form Four. And yes, history is a compulsory subject in school and from next year, you need to get at least a pass in it to obtain your Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) certificate, our equivalent of the O-Levels.

All right, I knew about that one. The Educa­tion Minister had announced that in 2010 after an Umno annual general assembly. But here is the shocker, her son was told by his school that there will a three-hour practical for history.

I was flabbergasted. No kidding, I said.

What are they going to do for the practical, I asked. This is unheard of. I have not managed to get independent confirmation yet, but if it is, imagine the possibilities.

Now what kind of practical would it be? Can we build a time machine and go into the past and ask Hang Tuah whether he really existed and whether all those tales they told about him and Jebat were true even though tall? The mind boggles.

But for now, the idea of a practical exam for history has to be mere conjecture unless the ministry chooses to clarify. Perhaps it is not a practical, maybe just a project.

Back to more serious stuff – this decision to make history not just a compulsory subject for the SPM but to require that from next year you need at least a pass in it to get the SPM certificate.

The only other subject that enjoys such a requirement is Bahasa Malaysia and up to now calls to make English a compulsory pass have not been implemented.

The Education Minister had cited lack of patriotism and lack of knowledge of the Federal Constitution as part of the reasons for the decision.

A committee was subsequently appointed to deal with the syllabus and curriculum in the wake of allegations that the history curriculum has changed over the years to place a lot more emphasis on Islamic civilisation and downplayed the achievements of non-Malays in contributing towards the nation and economy.

It is inevitable therefore that there will be lingering questions over what will constitute the history curriculum and what will be decided as facts and how the facts will be presented in a balanced manner to give a true and fair view of how events actually happened.

It is an unfortunate fact that our education system is highly politicised.

Take, for instance, the flip-flop over using English to teach Science and Maths. This was reversed after some five years and it is back to the old status quo.

And now history is to be made a compulsory pass for SPM.

That is a rather strange decision. It would have been adequate just to have made it a compulsory subject for the SPM instead of requiring that every student gets a pass in that subject to get the SPM.

Two questions arise over this issue.

First, is it really necessary to make a pass in history compulsory to ensure better understanding of how this country developed?

Two, who is going to ensure that the history that is taught in schools will be a real reflection of what happened shorn of all considerations?

The answer to the first question must surely be no because what politicians feel the public should feel about the way a country developed is seldom in touch with reality.

Students should not be forced to accept everything at face value without a healthy scepticism as to whether the so-called facts are right not.

by P. Gunasegaram.

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