History such a yawn, thanks to textbook

  • Education
  • Sunday, 06 Apr 2003

I REFER to the letter, “Much lacking in History textbook” by History Lover (March 30) regarding certain shortcomings of the current Form Four history textbook. I too am a History teacher and a parent who is very concerned about the quality of books produced by the Education Ministry.  

I would like to point out more factual errors in the above-mentioned history textbook. First, the reign of Augustus, a Roman emperor, is erroneously listed as 27-14 B.C. on page 44. The correct dates are 27 B.C. – 14 A.D. Second, the textbook erroneously states on page 65 that Siddhartha Gautama started searching for the truth about life at the age of 39. He actually did so when he was 29 years old.  

The textbook also inappropriately uses English spelling for terms that have been commonly spelt in Bahasa Malaysia. For example, on page 61, the term theology (English spelling) is used instead of teologi (Bahasa Malaysia spelling). There are also typographical errors such as pentabdiran on page 46 (should be pentadbiran) and parilineal on page 199 (should be patrilineal). 

I also agree with “History Lover” that the textbook is imbalanced. There are five chapters (out of 10) on Islam and Islamic Civilization.  

The new textbook has a lot of insignificant and irrelevant information such as the administrative districts during the Umayyad Caliphate (page 151), Hulagu Khan (page 156), and Sultan Selim I (page 160). There are also too many Arabic terms in the textbook. This does not help make History an interesting subject for our students.  

In one of the briefings that I attended as a History teacher, I was told that one of the major aims of rewriting our history textbooks was to ensure that students enjoyed learning History. It does appear that this aim has remained a mere dream! 


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