Dear Dr. Azly,
Thank you for bringing up this “thing” about history.
It is indeed interesting to read about the stages of evolution of a nation/ people from the perspective of the various historians be they authorized or not.
What I would like to touch on, is your opinion on a good history lesson in “More exciting strategies”.
I do not believe that “true history” can be truly taught the way you suggest, in schools – more so at the elementary levels. It creates confusion.
The spirit that each ruler of a nation tries to instil in his people, is from the from the perspective of “patriotism”.
How would a “childlike mind” (who barely knows anything about good and bad), interpret the success of founding father of a people, should he be depicted as a pirate or robber? What would his mental faculties that fails to comprehend “ethics” say about the success achieved via crime? How patriotic would he be should he be told, that his ancestors were pirates?
They would probably learn that despite doing evil, he has become successful – so, there is actually no shame in being a pirate – after all, these guys shaped the world as we know it!
Let's be realistic – would you want your descendants to be ashamed of their heritage? No, of course not.
The truth about history can be complex, unpalatable, and often, downright ugly. It is quite difficult for a vast majority to “grasp the truth” about factors that may have led to events, that may have made history. As usual, there will always be two sides to the same coin. It is (as we all know) usually the simplified and “simplistic” history that can be digested, which is fed to the masses for their consumption. This is done in “measured doses” so that the powers that be, may perpetuate an agenda that benefits the “ruling elite”.
The question that has to be posed is actually – What do they need to know? Can they handle it? What is the philosophy/ morals/ values would they learn from it? Would it help towards nation building?
The history as it is currently being taught in schools, is no doubt “inaccurate” (to put it mildly). However, one has to bear in mind that every race/ people/ nation needs “heroes” that epitomises the “struggles” of the leaders. It is in a sense “idol worship”.
Villains become heroes, and vice versa according to the times of a nation.
“Heroes” are actually immaterial to the real student of philosophy and history – he decides for himself what is true and right or wrong (despite the fact that he may be wrong).
History or philosophy, as it should be taught, can only be tolerated by those who are able to “stomach” it, and these learned ones should be respected for their knowledge for it is they who can guide the leaders towards building a great nation.
The problem arises, when the intelligentsia/ leadership truly believe in the nonsensical history that has been fed to them over the years of indoctrination, without question – not the masses. It is then that these leaders will repeat the blunders that aren't illustrated in their history lessons.
All this boils down to the fact that tertiary education should be left to educationists who encourage the students to question the lessons of history, and learn from the mistakes of the past. Until and unless our institutions of higher learning are freed from the chains of indoctrination, our nation would be heading in the direction of failed states that fill the annals of history.