The Division of the Understanding Korea Project of the Academy of Korean Studies recently took part in activities aimed at improving the Korea-related content of school textbooks during a visit to the United States from November 20 (Wed.) to November 26 (Tue.), 2019. As a part of these activities, we participated in the U. S. National Council for the Social Studies' 99th Annual Conference and Exhibition held in Austin, Texas, from November 22 (Fri.) to November 24 (Sun.). The Division of the Understanding Korea Project has attended the conference each year since 2015 (New Orleans in 2015, Washington D.C. in 2016, San Francisco in 2017).
Through participation in this conference, we promoted the Understanding Korea Project and sought to supplement, newly include, and improve the Korea-related content in American textbooks by directly interacting with social studies teachers and officials of major publishers through the personal network we have built up over the years.
The Division of the Understanding Korea Project also held the "Fellowship for Textbook Specialists of America" program by inviting textbook authors and teachers based on the network established through its participation in the conferences from 2015 to 2017. Following on from 2017, this year we prepared a session on Korea with American teachers who participated in the program.
In 2017, the theme of the presentation was "Korea in the Context of 21st Century Global History," which outlined Korea in the context of world history. In 2019, under the more in-depth theme of "Documents in Korean History Since 1200," we suggested specific methods for teaching Korea-related lessons to the teachers and discussed them together. About thirty American middle and high school social studies teachers participated in the presentation, freely discussing teaching methods and materials related to Korea.
Our participation in the NCSS Annual Conference and presentation on Korea allowed us to share diverse information with local social studies educators and actively share our opinions on how to teach Korean-related content in world and American history classes. In particular, this conference raised interest in expanding Korean-related descriptions in American textbooks through direct interviews with the authors of world history textbooks in the U. S. and gave us an opportunity to discuss the inclusion of new Korea-related content in future textbook revisions.
As well as participating in the conference and presentation, on November 21 (Thu), we visited Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a major textbook publisher in the U.S., to gather information on the publishing process of American textbooks as well as the revision and review processes, and also discussed plans for future cooperation. Furthermore, we visited Austin Public High School, where we experienced an actual history class and shared diverse opinions about teaching methods with the social studies teachers on site.
As a result of these activities in the U.S., we expect that the Korea-related content of American textbooks will be improved and supplemented with new material, and that Korea will be introduced in more accurate and diverse topics in the field of education.