Maham Kamal Khanum
‘We study history to learn from mistakes made in the past and remember our roots’, taught the first chapter of my history book back in grade 7. At the end of grade 10 when I stepped out of my O ’Levels History exam I tried to remember if this purpose had been fulfilled. Sadly, I realized it hadn’t been.
Recalling the whole journey of learning days and dates, I felt that most of my time was spent in coming to terms with the paradigm shift that took place in the form of the subject transforming from History to a part of Pakistan Studies. I had spent considerable time in early secondary school understanding the patterns of World History and within a vacations time my learning was confined to just 2.4% of the world’s population.
Gladly, I managed to accept this too because of an exceptional teacher that I had but as soon as the trans of her classes broke I found myself saturated and burdened in redundant facts and figures about Muslims losing hope, recollecting themselves and Hindus and British breaking them again.
Perhaps it was the burden of this saturation that kept most of my classmates annoyed of a subject like History for most of 9th and 10th grade. By the time it was May almost all of us decided that we will never study History ever again in our lives, especially to give a CIE exam.
The 200 years of colonization were told to me beautifully but the word ‘independence’ sounded ironic at the end when I had to follow a marking scheme made all the way in England to answer questions about the Indian subcontinent.
The books presented all the information so tactfully that I wouldn’t even come close to developing an opinion about the independence, Jinnah or anything else in the course. And this very failure is the reason why you end up questioning what was the point of learning all this when you are left as insensitive to your history as you were before studying about it.
Speaking of the books, I must say that all the key authors of Pakistan Studies’ books very skilfully guide students through the exam and ensured A*s if followed thoroughly. However, the conflict between the subject and the approach towards it lies here. If Pakistan studies is continued to be taught for an exam without placing events in a global perspective, causing students to disown it, it will remain a disliked subject with no point of teaching it.
I won’t deny that it is taught in depth and a broader perspective in universities and advanced studies but the truth is that many who could have been more interested in the subject are deterred from it way before they reach professional colleges.
It scares me that if this remains the case, our generations will remain illiterate of their past and live with delusional and incoherent knowledge of history.
Maham Kamal Khanum is an O-Level graduate, about to begin International Baccalaureate at The International School, Karachi, aspiring journalist, blogger and intern at The Express Tribune.
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