Monday, 24 June 2013

History Education Review and the Korean War

File:Korean War Montage 2.png

On May 20th I posted about the current Federal Review of History Education in Canada, and breaking the Peacekeeping Myth that is taught in the vast majority of our Grade 10 History classrooms (in Ontario, anyway), today I would like to highlight the upcoming 63rd Anniversary of the Korean War, a subject that almost always barely gets mentioned in a history classroom in high school, perhaps leading it to be called the "Forgotten War" and no war should ever be forgotten.

The Ontario ministry of education, grade 10 history curriculum calls for teachers to teach students about the important events between 1914 and the Present. The vast majority of the course covers the Second World War, and touches on the 1920s, 1930s and an overview of the Cold War, highlighting the Canadian built super aircraft, the Avro Arrow, and its demise, and the Avro myth in Canada today. The Korean War is a side note in most classrooms. Teachers often overlook it entirely or take a fraction of a class to mention that the war happened, and it is not a myth.

On June 25th 1950, the North Korean forces surprised the world when they invaded South Korea, and immediately the United Nations drafted resolution 82, which called for an end of the war, and the Korean peninsula to return to its divided state at the 38th parallel.

By August 15th the 2nd PPCLI was created and set sail for Korea, arriving in December and taking part in hostilities in February of 1951. By early spring 1951, more than 8,500 Canadian troops were supporting the United Nations with 600,000 South Korean, 326,000 American, 14,000 British, 5,000 Turkish, and hundreds of other troops from 17 nations to fight 1.3 Million Chinese troops, 270,000 North Korean Troops, and 26,000 Soviet troops (mainly in operational support roles, and not involved in direct combat).

The conflict, which still causes international issues today, 'ended' in 1953 with a ceasefire, after close to 800,000 dead and a million wounded. A total of  516 Canadians died, 1,042 were wounded, 1 is still listed as MIA, and 33 were taken as POWs.

It is hard to believe that despite the fact that the Korean War is Canada's third deadliest conflict, and perhaps one of the most important, in curbing the spread of Communism in the Far East, is skipped over in our history classes. As we get further from the end of the Second World War, our veterans dwindle in numbers. I am extremely worried that when the only veterans left are from the Korean War, our students will not know why their fight was so important, or even know it existed. This is just another reason why a review on the History curriculum is important.

I welcome any comments/concerns about my proposal/opinion about history education.

Remembering History - History Education Review and the Korean War