My article for the Thai Enquirer:
To control the past is to control the future: a cliché, to be sure, but one too relevant not to state. How Thailand has chosen to craft the history taught to generation after generation of students is an intentional act aimed at instilling national pride. But the propagation of narrative as unquestionable fact, while perhaps useful for state-building in the mid-20th century, has lost currency in an era where critical thinking and inquiry have overtaken obedience as the key skills needed to maintain competitiveness.
The government once talked unceasingly of ‘Thailand 4.0’: the vision for a nation driven by innovation. Of course, this goal is completely at odds with students being taught to uncritically accept and commit to memory the facts in textbooks. In addition, the narratives that history curricula often choose to present do not mesh well with advances in historical study.
Any change to how history is taught in Thailand would be bound to be controversial. But small, incremental steps can be taken to attain better teaching of history in Thai schools. One area in which schools can begin by identifying areas where the historicity of events are still strongly debated and present contrasting perspectives.
Click here to read the full piece.