Archive for November 16th, 2008

A lesson from history

Newly-appointed Malaysian Historical Society fellow Dol Ramli called on educationists to make creative use of modern audio-visual aids so that history learning becomes more interesting for students.


These aids, admittedly, can make a difference to history teaching. But one needs to recognise that these aids are merely media through which a story is told. In short, there’s a limit to what these aids can do.


You can only dazzle those students with the technological wizardry at your disposal so much. At the end of the day, what is more important is the ‘meat’ of the history lesson.


In line with Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak’s desire for a more curious and critical group of students, it would help if the history lesson is taught in a manner that incorporates, for example, historical materials or documents that so far have been relegated to the sideline.  


Such an approach would not only enrich the students intellectually, but also provoke them to ask searching questions such as, why were certain groups, like Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya and Malayan Democratic Union, ignored or downplayed by the ‘official history’? What would the country be had these ‘left-wing’ groups not been crushed by the British colonial power? Weren’t these groups part of the struggle for the country’s independence?


And if we’re talking of Malaysia’s recent history, would the history books of tomorrow take cognizance of the Reformasi movement of the late 1990s, and more recently, for instance, the Bersih and Hindraf rallies that awoke many Malaysians and rattled the powers-that-be?


Incidentally, teachers of history could take a leaf from filmmaker Fahmi Reza whose approach to history is quite unconventional and intellectually challenging.