In some countries, History is written and taught in schools to indoctrinate the minds of citizens. This evidently happens for political expediency and not many academics would close their eyes when history is perverted in this manner.
For instance, invaders who committed gruesome atrocities in Malaya or China during World War 2 are not mentioned in school history books of their homeland. In fact, the victors and the vanquished would always have different stories to tell in the name of history.
This may bode well for some political reasons but to the academics, this is not spot-on. Academics generally would like to see history books written in an objective and ingenuous manner despite the fact that there cannot be an unqualified variation-free approach to some historical facts.
In the Malaysian context. when the colonial orientalists wrote the history of our country, it was perceived by many as biased.
Then came historians among our nationalists who rewrote our history from their own standpoint. In between this came the politicians who wanted to have a say in this business of writing history books.
With too many cooks, the broth is now spoilt. Today, we have many disputed facts written about our nation's history -- much to the chagrin of academics.
Why not leave the writing of history books to academics who are trained to be non-partisan? They would perhaps write the history of our country more dispassionately and make it less subjected to disparagement by critics.
Today, the many accounts of history of any country can be found on the Internet. Crucial historical facts cannot be hidden any more.
This has helped the people see history from many standpoints, written by different authors. It is from this revelation to history that they form their own opinions as they grow up.
This is where, in some instances, school history textbooks are derided and become obsolete to intelligent students.
Also, the educators, on their part, are heartened to entertain dissenting views from students on all facts and issues. It is best that History be taught with this same fervour in schools and universities.
History should not be taught by indoctrinating the minds of students with tailor-made facts that cannot be questioned in the classroom, or to make them memorise facts, names and dates for the exams.
Rather, students should be encouraged to see and argue historical issues from the many points of view.
DR M.A. NAIR Kuala Lumpur
Source: The NST Home Letters to Editor 2011/08/05 Just leave it to the academics