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Sunday, October 31, 2010

HISTORY vs GEOGRAPHY...


Something's not right here... How come Geography is sidelined in the SPM? And History is made a compulsory pass in the SPM.. Why is that English is not made a compulsory pass, after all the fuzz on MBMMBI was made.
During my school days, Geography was made compulsory for Science students to take in the SPM (it was MCE at that time).
Geography is the study of the earth. Everything about earth, it's physical, it's inhabitants, climate, latitude and longitudes, time zones, vegetation, and so and so.. No wonder we have global warming these days because people don't study geography anymore !!
History, on the other hand, is the study of what had happened in the past. So, we study things that happened yesterday, yesteryear, yester.., yester... So, we study backwards...

I came across these two articles today and would like to share them with you:


No place for Geography

THE Education Ministry had some years ago made History a compulsory subject for all SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) students. Recently it stated that from 2013, all students must obtain at least a pass at SPM level.Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister, said this was like Bahasa Malaysia where SPM candidates must pass before they could get a certificate.
The Ministry will also introduce History as a subject to all Year One pupils in 2014.
While the move to give History such an elevated status should be welcomed, it has been at the expense of sidelining the importance of Geography in secondary schools.
As it is, Geography as a subject has already moved down in terms of importance.
Several schools in Seremban, Negri Sembilan, have already dropped the subject from their SPM list since it is an elective, and this in turn has reduced the number of candidates sitting for the subject in the STPM examination. I am sure there are schools in other states that have also done the same.
Up to the 1980s, Geography covered all the continents of the world and was made compulsory for all Science stream students in Forms Four and Five. Geography is the study of the earth.
It helps students to have an understanding of the countries so that they can relate to what they read in the newspapers or views on television. From trade and commerce, the subject touches on a country’s imports, exports, vegetation, weather, population, economy, demography, wildlife, forests and industries, and the type of natural disasters it is prone to such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and typhoons.
With fewer students studying Geography, we Malaysians will one day become like some foreigners in the West, who think Malaysians live on trees! I recall reading about the 10-year-old English girl Tilly Smith who saved her family and friends from the deadly 2004 tsunami on a beach in Thailand because she detected its arrival by observing the bubbles on the shore, as she had learnt about it in her Geography lessons.
I have never regretted studying Geography as I have always found it interesting and informative. The authorities, by giving importance to History, have sidelined Geography even further.
The government should not be hasty in making decisions especially if it was done with an ulterior motive or political agenda. Ultimately, it is the students who will suffer.
Jesu Maria Selvam.
The Star. 

History – a much maligned subject

WITH the announcement by Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin that History would be a must-pass SPM subject for 2013 (The Star, Oct 23), there has been many reactions from politicians, university dons, and amateurs.
There is indeed a need for History textbooks to be re-written, and done so with reference to professional historians, with evidence and research to verify the facts written in the books.
The fact is, there is room for much improvement in the textbooks.
It is unbelievable that much of the so-called “facts” in them do not hold water.
Forget the heated discussions on the “hidden history not much talked about,” such as the left-wing movement.
Even the most basic idea about the concept of history is laughably asinine.
For example, a Form 1 History textbook mentions the origin of the term “history”.
Instead of saying that it originated from the Greek term Historia, meaning inquiry or investigation, and based on the tome of the “Father of History” Herodotus of Halicarnassus, this textbook simply mentions it as being a fairytale, as history is just that: his-(or her) story.
Of course, the entire discussion of re-writing textbooks is but a part of a larger issue: the dignity of history as a subject.
History has been much maligned, especially by politicians with interest, no matter where they come from.
As such, History today has been taken out of the hands of the university professionals by pseudo-historians, biased politicians and amateurs for their own manipulation.
It is small wonder why History is not taken seriously by students.
If indeed History is to be respected as a legitimate subject, then it must be given back to the historians so that they can produce good history textbooks, and without interference from interested politicians or narrow religious views.
In this case, History must be given the same authority as Science in class.
The Theory of Evolution is thankfully allowed in Biology in Malaysia, even though it is rejected by the religious class with no basic knowledge in science.
As for the politicians and the idea of political correctness, their views must be taken with a pinch of salt when writing History textbooks.
The latest call by politicians for equal space for all (supposedly ethnic) communities in History books to show a sense of fair representation is quite flawed from a historian’s point of view.
This is based on the politically correct, but flawed, premise that all communities contribute equally to national development and historical change.
Nothing can be further from the truth.
The idea of history is to see change through the ages, and how change is achieved or who contributed to that change.
E. H. Carr, the author of What is History, a textbook on the philosophy of history among university students, pointed out that historical change is achieved by the dominant group or dominant force, and that this force forms the backbone of the historical narrative.
To diminish this role of the dominant group (ethnic or class) due to the idea of equal representation of other ethnic groups is another form of bias and twisting of history.
By all means, tell the history of all ethnic communities, as well as other communities in society.
But do not let History be cheapened in the process due to political correctness or bias.
RUZAINI FIKRI,
Kuala Lumpur.


Have a nice day....

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