Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Republic of virtue, 4/09

Teach Us a Different Malaysian History PDF Print E-mail
Posted by admin
Saturday, 18 April 2009 11:49

Let us teach our children that they too can become the next Prime Minister. Teach our teachers how to creatively teach Civics and History and to acquire the art and science of Revisionist Civics, Counter-factual History, and Radical and Transformational Leadership.

By Azly Rahman
http://azlyrahman-illuminations.blogspot.com/

We are reading too much on Malaysian political dynasties.

Political dynasties pose intellectual dangers to the well-being of our emerging political consciousness. They create political-economic elites that continue to expand power, structure hegemony, and indoctrinate the masses. It has been a phenomena the world over. We are seeing this unfolding right before our eyes.

In coffee-stalls, warongs or kedai kopis, bars, country clubs, etc. the conversations revolve around which son/daughter or son-in-law or daughter-in-law will become the next Prime Minister and how this or that gang is plotting against the other. It becomes interesting ‘Sherlock Holmes-style” of conversation but does not add value to the kind of democracy we are trying to achieve.

The space for democracy will be limited if our dialogues revolve merely around politics of speculation and sinisterism. The makers of history continue to be those who own the means of controlling the production of consciousness well as those who own the money to buy votes. They build institutions of control that produce technologies and ideologies of mind control.

We need to excavate the meaning of people’s history and not the history of glorified individuals. Idolatry of any form constitutes mental subjugation that limits the creative and critical ability of a nation to construct ethical civilizations.

An inroad to the reconstruction of how to renew our historical consciousness must lie in the way we teach History/Civics/Citizenship to our children.

"Questioning History"

History is that field of study/enterprise so powerful a mental glue that can integrate or disintegrate a nation. It becomes crucial what perspective of history we use in crafting its ancillary called Citizenship Studies/Kenegaraan. We must begin to reconceptualize the way we approach teaching it.

Consider the following questions we may begin to ask ourselves concerning history:

Whose history is of most supreme?
What kind of history is most meaningful to the individual?
Who writes history?
From what point of view is history written?
When does history textbooks get revised?
How does history contribute to lethal ethnocentrism?
Under what circumstances do historians lie?
Is there such a thing as ‘historical facts’ when historical accounts themselves are biases reconstructed based on selective memory and written by those who owns the pen?
Who gets marginalized in the process of historicizing?
When will “history” become “her-story”?
What images of women, immigrants, minorities, natives are presented in history textbooks?
In a multiracial and pluralistic society, how is a national history textbook written?
Must history continue to glorify individuals, despots, autocrats, dictators, symbols of slavery and oppression, buildings, etc.?
How do we teach children to write their own histories so that they may become makers of history instead of being fed with other people’s history?
How do we make history lessons come alive?

"Questioning our History lessons"

Via a personal narrative, let me illustrate why we ought to provide new questions in history.

In my history classes in primary school, I had always daydreamed of being transported to lands far away – to Greece of the Olympian gods, Rome of Caesar, Majapahit, and the kingdom of Ashoka.

My question has oftentimes been this: why are the kings/sultans/rajahs ruthless and why did people have to worship them?

What magical powers such as the ‘daulat’ that these kings possess and why aren’t; the slaves given theirs too? What led people to believe that these rulers posses these powers – did the sultan’s propagandists write all these?

As a child -- I had these questions because I thought it would also be nice to have the power to have a bridge in my kampong in Johor Bahru collapse just by saying

“Hoooi, runtuh lah jembatan ni…aku perintah kau runtuh .. jadi.. maka jadi lah.. kun faya kun”

[ “Hoooi… collapse ye’ little bridge.. I command ye to collapse.. be .. and let it be… let it be]

I wanted such powers for myself – if (the Japanese hero) Ultra Man can have it, then why can’t I?

In teaching American and World History, in the United States, I continue to ponder how best to make my students daydream of constructing their understanding of history from the people’s point of view – from the history of real people who did the real job of constructing reality that is called a nation.

This means asking my students to explore slave narratives, voices of early immigrants, stories of those who fought tooth and nail against injustices, how kings are overthrown, and how revolutions are crafted. This means asking my students to understand the concept of the modern daulat – hegemony.

In my classes in Foundations of Western Civilization, I would have my students construct group manifestos of new civilizations based on a synthesis of work of major thinkers of the Western World they are studying. Their manifestos reflect a problem-based understanding of the issues of modern times, using ideas of the past. I wanted to have them look at history differently and become part of the ongoing conversation of what it takes to be a social thinker.

I wanted to push the limits of their imagination in order for them to produce challenging questions on issues of how democracy looks like and what it takes to build a thinking nation. I would continue to push the limits of their individual as well as group thinking in deconstructing and reconstructing history so that the lessons will bring them closer to the people and not to kings, despots, dictators, and monuments.

I was, at the same time, teaching them to analyze ideology and deconstruct hegemony. I only asked questions. I seldom give them answers. As Socrates would say, the answers are within themselves.

"Civics lessons and a healthy democracy"

Those who think that we cannot question historical facts, have not learned the philosophy of history nor been introduced to more exciting strategies of creative and critical thinking.

Teachers and university educators who preach ‘official histories’ need to be introduced to the varieties of teaching strategies of teaching History as well as the spectrum of views on what history, from the perspective of history and class consciousness, can be.

A skilled teacher/university educator will humbly entertain any question on history. The more we question ‘historical facts’ the sharper our thinking will become. The more we question the origin of things, the better we will play our role as creators of history as well as masters of our own destiny. The more we delve into the most challenging questions in history, the healthier our sense of well-beingness of own democracy will be.

A healthy democracy is one that teaches each and every child what ‘politics’ mean. In our History class, it teaches the meaning of justice and fairness and of the use and abuse of power. It teaches the process and possibilities of democracy and not of democracy as a product created by the elite few that come from dynasties. It teaches them how to become active and reflective citizens.

A good History lesson do not teach children to memorize facts that are suspect, or historical facts that are oxymoronic, or of dead people and dead places and who controls this or that territory, or which kingdom gets overthrown by this or that usurping prince. It teaches them to question those facts and to put those individuals on trial. It puts Christopher Columbus on trial for murdering thousands of Arawak Indians in the process of being canonized as the “founder” of America.

A good History lesson does not teach the idea that Parameswara, who fled his kingdom in an unsuccessful coup attempt in Palembang, and next killed Temagi in the then Singapura, and next hunted down by the Thais, and next landed under a Melaka tree -- is a hero. It teaches children to be vigilant against rulers who are murderers and plunderers and slave-owners.

The story of a glorified Parameswara as a founder is a bad history lesson – how can we still glorify a ‘historical fact’ of an usurper and a murderer as a founder of Melaka? It is like glorifying the history of Manhattan island, New York City – worth 24 dollars in real estate value and became a haven for smugglers, pirates, and bootleggers.

A good history lesson makes history that come alive by allowing children to play the role of makers of their own history. It allows children to put Parameswara on trial for murder and revolt. It teaches children to question the founding of Melaka and the intention of the author/court-propagandist Tun Sri Lanang who wrote it.

A good History class is one that teaches children to revise, debunk, and deconstruct history as a tool of mass deception. It challenges students to look at history in radically different ways to make history come alive, subjective, and ever revisionist.

A good History class teaches children the people’s history of the land – of those who died building monuments, istanas, factories, bridges, tunnels, or in wars between the greedy Sultans of the region. These are the unsung heroes of history that our children ought to be taught to honor.

A good History lesson teaches children not other people’s history but of their own – beginning with one’s personal history, next to one’s family, and one’s people – all within the framework of history that does not alienate and marginalize human beings.

The way we still teach History and Social Studies reflects why we Malaysians cannot yet evolve from the consciousness of ‘waiting for the messiahs/saviors/matrieya/al-Mahdi/ Perdana Menteri’ to the consciousness of understanding the Self as the true ruler of the Kingdom within.

Already our land is littered with names after names of individuals who wield dynastic power since modern time immemorial – names of those deserving or not. These names are inscribed on roadsigns, billboards, lorongs in kampongs, landmark buildings, corporate towers, stadiums, schools, higher education institutions, and deep in the consciousness of the people through media control of the human mind.

We become colonized by these names, signs, and symbols. The mind becomes paralyzed being colonized by these concepts, signs, and symbolism that govern the daily economic, social, and political existence of the people that are being made objects of other people’s history.

Let us teach our children that they too can become the next Prime Minister. Teach our teachers how to creatively teach Civics and History and to acquire the art and science of Revisionist Civics, Counter-factual History, and Radical and Transformational Leadership.

Our political conversations will then be more meaningful and our road to democracy will be more enjoyable.

Man makes history, said the great historian E.H. Carr. It is the “people’s history” as American historian Howard Zinn would say, that ought to be honored.

OUR USUAL REMINDER, FOLKS:
While the opinion in the article is mine,
the comments are yours;
present them rationally and ethically.
AND -- SET ALL I.S.A. DETAINEES FREE]

Comments (19)Add Comment
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written by technoboy, April 18, 2009 11:56:25
If UMNO has its' way, TDM will be painted a saint although we Malaysians know fully well all his evil misdeeds that has caused the nation untold and unaccountable damages. Now that TDM is back and trying th change history, this would be in line with his "look east" policy, see how the Japanese distort and twist the facts of their aggressive past towards China, Korea and SEA and hence re-write history.
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written by clarity, April 18, 2009 12:09:14
Azly Rahman, Allow me to extend my greatest respect to your wisdom and clarity of mind. Because we are a multi ethnic and multi racial country, care must be taken so that history will not be distorted to favour any single race.
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written by onnetline, April 18, 2009 12:11:17
The propaganda of distorted truths or lies are compulsory at all times with a corrupted government ! ! 1
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written by Fuminari, April 18, 2009 12:12:19
""Four private television stations have been ordered not to name political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda when reporting the Altantuya Shaarriibuu murder case.
Malaysiakini has learnt that the top management of Media Prima Berhad - the owner of the four TV stations - had issued a directive on the matter. ""

this is how umno be end hav been n still teaching history to malaysian!
they couldn't even gut-enough,conscientious enough to face the truth,say the truth n see the truth!
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written by Sinewy, April 18, 2009 12:13:13
In Malaysia, the racist UMNO has hijacked the history book by using their cronies to rewrite the content for their own political motives..
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written by ahmadneil, April 18, 2009 12:22:37
Let teach our children this.... Once upon a time there was a beautiful girl who came to Malaysia from Mongolia.She was like Cinderella and she came here to look for her boyfriend who was a high ranking malaysian official.

She search high and low for him becos he was her boyfriend.Being pregnant by him,she was determine to to get some money to pay for her food back home in Mongolia.At last she found him and begged him to pay her the 500,000 US$ commission she earn while acting as his interpretor during their trip to Paris to purchase 3 submarines.

This boyfriend by the name of Rojak Baginda got scare and when his wife,Mrs Labrador found out about the commission,she refused to pay Altantuya and ordered her to be C4.

So you see children,here in Malaysia,the high ranking official are very bad.If you come across any high ranking official you tell them to fcuk off (sorry you can't use this bad words)peace off.This is the only way to show to these bad people that they are too bad to be your friend.

Children,when you go back home please tell your parents about this beautiful Cinderella called Altntuya and the bad high ranking malaysian official.
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written by Old Man Jasin, April 18, 2009 12:26:13
AZLY,
You must be kidding ! That our children too can become the next PM .

Even if they can get a job with any Gomen Department that would be a blessing.

Unless they are Melayu. Genuine or imitate.
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written by cheekhiaw, April 18, 2009 12:30:24
What history does one expect thieves, liars and murderers that wave crooked knives to get their way, and sitting at the top of the country including its education ministry to teach?

Thievery, lies and murdering techniques?

xxx
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written by wood, April 18, 2009 12:35:19
My Dear Dr.Azly Rahman, You as usual have written an excellent article which is informative and full of useful ideas and I am sure many rakyat will appreciate it. However I am hoping against hope some from the other side will read and adopt some of your ideas. Anyway never give up and we look forward to hear more from you in the future. ! Well Done ! smilies/wink.gif
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written by mamanur, April 18, 2009 13:49:40
here history are taught as a propaganda to demonized those not in line with the gov aka BN. children nowadays are parrots and brainwashed. remind me of the movie V for Vandetta..
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written by Kacang Tanah, April 18, 2009 13:54:00
UMNO has to distort and manipulate facts in order to survive. Just take a look at the mass media, AG, IGP, MACC, kangaroo judges , PDRM and Marikan manipulate the laws and rules of the country to suit their evil needs. They are very lucky to be in Malaysia, and would have been sent for firing squard if they are in China.
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written by LILIN, April 18, 2009 14:00:44
http://wfol.tv/index.php?optio...1&Itemid=1

Fresh,new pictures of how Makkah will look in 2010...there's really awesome pics.
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written by densemy, April 18, 2009 14:54:37
When teachers think that its acceptable to introduce racism in the classroom, do you think they would have any hesitation in manipulating history to suit their own misguided philosophies
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written by charcoy feng, April 18, 2009 21:47:15
Dr. Azly,
People like Khoo kay kim should be put on trial. I simply can't accept this kind of breed. Till today he's still full of lies.....

Malaysians should be made known of what actually happenned on 20th October 1947. What was the People's Constitution all about....
How the unsung heroes were deleted and distorted from our history lessons....
History on People like Dr. Burhanuddin al-helmi, Ahmad Boestaman, John Thivy etc... should be made known

What was the actual reason for CPM to start their arm struggle?
I hope to meet Chin Peng one day and hear his side of the story from his mouth...

OUR HISTOR NEEDS TO BE REWRITTEN BY INTELIGENT, HONEST AND TRUSTWORTHY PEOPLE LIKE YOU.....
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written by malgal, April 19, 2009 09:54:12
each one of us can help carve the kind of history we want today. whether it be a continuation of the glory of individuals and dynasties that are deified or that of history of real good men and women who chose truth, honesty and integrity -never mind if they would not be sequined, tiara-ed or titled. think of perak today, it is history in the making - which course it takes depends on choices and the ones brave enough to make the right one.
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written by educationist, April 19, 2009 10:25:09
"It is the “people’s history” as American historian Howard Zinn would say, that ought to be honored."
again, for fear of appearing negative, how can it happen here?
when the umnoputras will want to promote only their version of history?
when none other than that ex MOE went on record to say the contributions of other races in the independence struggle should be deleted!
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written by Hakim Joe, April 19, 2009 14:28:57
Even before we can start about thinking of doing what Dr Azly prescribes,
we need to get rid of the "ketuanan" concept first.
How can we teach our children that they can aspire to be the PM one day,
when the constitution says otherwise (because of their race)?

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written by Barking out loud, April 20, 2009 01:46:29
Truly a beautiful piece.

I have not been taught that type of history. I wished I was informed as such when I was in school. I was only taught to appreciate what was written and add a lot of salt and pepper to what Khoo Kay Kim has written in my history books.

We all know that there is the truth in our history books but not all of it was the full truth. We were never taught to question what the full truth was, just understand and appreciate what it was told to us and pass our exams.
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written by CPY, April 20, 2009 08:52:44
I know you are saying. The orthodox historical records cannot be taken as the gospel truth, but must be supported by several artifacts. Furthermore the interpretation of a historical figure may be biased by the writer.
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