Education Ministry, experts argue about history teaching methodology
VietNamNet Bridge - The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) plans to integrate history into other learning subjects, while experts insist on teaching history as an independent subject.

Vietnam, historians, history, Phan Huy Le, MOET

MOET once faced strong opposition from historians and experts a year ago, when it decided that history was an optional subject for the 2014-2015 high school finals. They warned that if history was no longer a compulsory exam subject, students would not study history, though it is an important learning subject.

Do Ngoc Thong, deputy director of the MOET’s Secondary Education Department, emphasized that restructuring the learning subject system was a must because there were too many compulsory subjects.

MOET’s committee on reforming the curricula and textbooks for general education believes that it would be better to integrate three subjects – citizen education, national defence & security and history, which would promote student awareness of the citizens’ responsibility for the fatherland.

In the future, students would have one subject – citizens and the fatherland – instead of  three subjects.

A teacher from Tu Ky High School in Hai Duong province said that for many years, history has been considered an ‘auxiliary learning subject’ to major subjects such as math, literature and foreign languages.

He pointed out that by integrating history into other learning subjects, MOET has tried to ‘declare death’ for an important subject.

The teacher and his colleagues polled their students, asking if they liked studying history as a separate subject or integrated subject, and found that students disliked MOET’s idea of integrating subjects.

Of 1,167 polled students, 939 disagreed with listing history as an ‘optional subject’.

Meanwhile, a history teacher at a high school in district 3, HCM City, said she fears the integrated subject would put a heavy workload on students. 

Scientists have also expressed their disagreement with MOET’s tentative plan on integrating history into other learning subjects.

Nguyen Quang Dat from the Social Sciences and Humanities Academy said MOET’s idea ‘sounds interesting, but equivocal’.

“What is the basis for MOET to integrate history into national defence & security and citizen education into one learning subject? These are three quite different fields with different targets,” said Phan Huy Le, a renowned historian.

Tran Trung Hieu, a history teacher from the Phan Boi Chau High School for the Gifted, in Nghe An province, in a letter to the editorial board, said the MOET decision was “anti-pedagogical”.

Hieu commented MOET could not understand the particularly important role of history in educating students about the patriotism, national tradition and help a lot in their personality formation.


Vietnam, historians, history, Phan Huy Le, MOET