History and liberal studies are both important in Hong Kong's schools

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 September, 2015, 4:05pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 September, 2015, 4:05pm

I refer to the letter by Cyrus Lo Chak-chi ("Students take initiative with liberal studies", August 29). He was replying to an earlier correspondent who was critical of liberal studies which he considered as less important than history.

I believe that after liberal studies became a compulsory subject, students started to pay more attention to social issues. They are encouraged to analyse data, express their own views and be critical thinkers.

Like Cyrus Lo I have benefited from liberal studies lessons. However, I believe that history is an even more important subject for teenagers.

It also helps us to develop our critical thinking skills. Critics argue it is just about memorising facts, but students are required to think about and interpret past events. They have to think about the causes and the short- and long-term consequences. In this regard history is similar to liberal studies.

With the latter, we are mainly focusing on current events. However, if you do not have a good understanding of what happened in the past, you may only have a partial understanding of a contemporary social issue.

Many of the problems in society have their roots in historical events. We have to try and see the link between the past and the present.

For example, not many students know the origin of filibustering, which has proved controversial in our Legislative Council. It originated in ancient Rome and was first used in Hong Kong by pro-Beijing politicians in 1999. If you are just doing liberal studies you probably would not know that. By also doing history you can acquire a deeper understanding of the filibuster.

I agree with Mr Lo that the government should not make history one of the compulsory subjects in local schools. However, it should use publicity to encourage more young people to choose it. We should not see it as being an attempt to brainwash teenagers.

Schools need to take the initiative and explain how students can benefit from exploring the wonders of history.

History keeps repeating itself. Through studying it, we can have a better understanding of the present and what might happen in the future.

Hopefully the more we understand about history the better chance we have of avoiding repeating the mistakes made by previous generations. I hope today's young can equip themselves to become global citizens.

Clover Lau, Ma On Shan