Renovating syllabus, changing the teaching and learning methods are the things that historians believe need to be done immediately in order to “rescue a new Vietnamese generation bad at history”
An abnormal thing happened at the university entrance exams--most of the examinees got low marks for history exam, while thousands of students got zero. The information has stirred up the public, while historians have warned about a new Vietnamese generation which is bad at history, and experts have blamed this on the unreasonable teaching method.
The topic has become even hotter after Minister of Education and Training (MOET) Pham Vu Luan said on local newspapers, that low marks in history should be seen as an inevitable trend in the digital era, when students need to focus on learning economics and informatics.
Luan’s comments have been criticized by historians. Dr Pham Ngoc Tram from the History Faculty of the HCM City University for Social Sciences and Humanity, pointed out that the low marks in the history exam should be considered an “abnormal thing”, and that the bad teaching method has made Vietnamese students get tired of the social science.
Tram said on Nguoi lao dong, that the history curriculum for high school students is too heavy because students have to remember thousands of events. “Since students cannot remember all that events, they have to learn the events by heart many times and get tired,” Tram said.
The history lecturer finds it really difficult to give lessons about Vietnamese history in 1945-1946. There are too many events in the period, and teachers need to spend all the time to give figures and other basic highlights. As a result, they do not have more time to analyze the relations of the events, and the historical nature of the events.
Professor Dao Trong Thi, Chair of the National Committee for Culture, Education, the Youth and Children, also said that the existence of thousands of zero marks for history proves to be “unacceptable”. He stressed that history provides very necessary knowledge to general school students. Historical knowledge, together with the knowledge from other social sciences, plays a very important role in the process of forming personality for students.
“The fact that thousands students got zero from the university entrance exams, showed that Vietnamese students do not have necessary knowledge about the country’s history,” he said.
Thi went on to say that it is necessary to renovate the curriculums and the teaching method applied to social sciences, especially history. Surveys need to be conducted to find out the problems. After that, opinions should be collected and the issues would be discussed with the Ministry of Education and Training for implementation.
“We will put the teaching of social sciences into the National Assembly’s supervision program in 2012,” Thi said.
Duong Trung Quoc, a National Assembly’s Deputy, a well known historian in Vietnam, believes that the bad results of the history exam are the consequences of the underestimation of the society about the social science and the unreasonable teaching method.
He said that it would be a blunder if people think that learning history means remembering events. In the digital era, people can easily find out the figures about the events by using searching tools. Teachers should not try to fill students’ heads with a lot of figures and events, while they should show students how to make use of the knowledge in their lives.
“Meanwhile, the history textbooks have not been changed over the last 10 years,” he noted.
The less interest of students in history can also be explained by the demand for earning living. Students nowadays have to learn foreign languages and informatics, because they will not be able to earn money without the knowledge in the fields.
Quoc said he has been trying to persuade students that it is very necessary to learn history, because historical knowledge allows students to take many different jobs: they can become historians or politicians, and scientists as well.
“However, I have failed to persuade them, because they well understand that their history teachers are very poor and do not have many promotion opportunities in society,” he said.
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