Monday, April 07, 2014

History/Social Studies Textbooks Now and Then

Diva likes the comic section best!

Last Sunday, I was talking to a couple of girls in Primary 5 and 6 about their Social Studies textbooks. I was happy to hear that they liked it. "It was like a magazine!" one said, and she meant it in a good way. The latest textbooks are bright, cheery and full of illustrations. They even have comics, er... graphic novels in them!

This is a far cry from the textbook I used when I was in school. There was no social studies in primary school so my first encounter with history was in Secondary 1. The textbook I used was "Social and Economic History of Modern Singapore" and  the thickest book in the school bag. It was perhaps more serious than the textbooks of today with a lot more words. Surprisingly, I liked the textbook. (Probably because I liked to read).  I was especially taken by the stories in the "Supplementary reading material" section. I always thought these bits were more interesting than the main text!

My fascination with history textbooks has lasted for many years, I even did my Masters thesis on Singapore history textbooks. So I was very happy to have contributed to the P5 Social Studies textbook as consultant and happier with the way they turned out. The team at the Ministry of Education worked very hard on them, and I hope that the students of today appreciate how much efforts goes into making their first encounters with history fun and interesting.