Standing on the ground of the Hoa Lo prison relic, Nguyen Nhat Minh, 18, from Thanh Tri District, Hanoi, carefully reads short stories about Vietnamese patriots who fought against French colonialism.
|Stories about Vietnamese patriots hanged onto the wall inside the Hoa Lo Prison Relic, Hanoi. Photo: Son Nguyen
In what used to be the shower area for prisoners, the images and stories of the Vietnamese who stood up against the tyrannical rule of French colonialism and fought for the country's freedom and independence are now on display.
On a sunny October morning with his classmate, the high school senior moves slowly through the old shower area, trying to finish reading all the stories before walking down the hallway to another section of the relic.
Then, the two students enter the section where the Vietnamese are captured and treated in the most brutal way imaginable.
"I found out about the relic through books and social media. Now I see how our ancestors suffered by being tortured for fighting for national independence," he told The Hanoi Times while looking at the photos on the wall.
"I have had a very valuable experience visiting the relic. I have learned about the cruelty of colonialism in class, but what I have seen here with our own eyes still surpasses my imagination."
The two high school seniors were not the only visitors at the relic. Others were at the site, many of them students from local schools.
Around the capital city, schools have organized more field trips to improve students' teaching of history and culture.
Hoan Kiem district's historical and cultural sites include the Hanoi Old Quarter Cultural Exchange Center on Dao Duy Tu Street, the 140-year-old Ancient House on Ma May Street, and the Kim Ngan Communal House on Hang Bac Street, which have been filled with students lately.
|Nguyen Du Secondary School students visit the ancient house on Ma May Street, Hanoi. Source: Nguyen Du Secondary School
For several students, it was their first time to go to these places where they could learn more about Hanoi's old houses and heritage and improve awareness of heritage conservation.
Le Hoang Uyen, a history teacher at Phenikaa School, told The Hanoi Times that history is an important subject that develops patriotism in each student.
“Historical sites are among the major materials and information sources for history teaching,” she said.
"Nowadays, learning history is not just a classroom activity. Students can search the Internet, the media, or go to historical sites to get the necessary information," he said.
"Teachers must be more creative and look for new ways to combine historical information with current events, making lectures more engaging for students."
Therefore, visiting historical sites seems like an excellent way to increase students' interest in learning history, Uyen said.
"Visiting historical sites should be more experiential. Tours should relate to various topics such as art, cuisine, history, and culture to arouse students' curiosity," the young teacher said.
Students and teachers are interested in visiting historical places, and young adults also want to come and experience the same sensations.
Usually, history teaching consisted of reading and copying the information from the book, which was quite dull, To Viet Ha, a 25-year-old communication executive told The Hanoi Times.
"I recently visited the Hoa Lo Prison relic. Honestly, the relic management agency has done quite well in making the site more interesting for visitors, causing special feelings for them," he said.
"I think students should visit other relics to naturally acquire the information from the lessons taught there," Ha added.
|Two visitors in the Hoa Lo Prison Relic exhibit room in Hanoi. Photo: Son Nguyen
Dinh Trong Minh, 28, from Nam Dinh Province, said history should always be compulsory in school because "it teaches us a lot about the ordeals our forefathers went through to claim freedom and independence for the country.”
According to historian Duong Trung Quoc, history is everything around us, such as a village temple, a hero temple, and an ancient relic.
“Field trips are important to history teaching. If the students only sit in the class and read the books, they will never understand why Vietnam won the battles of Dien Bien Phu and Bach Dang River,” the specialist said.
The historian said schools should increase extracurricular activities to improve the quality of history teaching and encourage teachers to develop more creative methods.
The teaching and examination of history still focus on figures, facts, and events while restraining students from critical thinking, Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Kim Son said.
Therefore, the reform of history teaching method is necessary, he said, adding taking students to historical and cultural sites is a new way to boost the quality of history education.
Hanoi plans literature and history shows for students
The capital city of Hanoi will hold some 2,000 artistic performances to bring to life characters, people, and events in literature and history subjects for local students.
The activity is part of the project that will translate famous international and Vietnamese writings for middle and high school students in 2022-2030.
Accordingly, 51 shows will be played to tell stories, events, and historical characters. Each show will feature a specific story selected from an international and local story or a historical event in Vietnam.
Theatre groups under the direct management of the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports will perform at local schools.
The Hanoi People’s Committee expects the project will make literature writings and historical lessons more attractive to students. Moreover, the city hopes that the shows will help reveal some talents for the Vietnamese art performing