Given Asia’s importance to the United States, economically, politically, and strategically, there is general agreement in America, at least in theory, that students “should learn about Asia.” World history texts frequently give short shrift to Asia, although Asian civilizations do receive more coverage in such textbooks than they did in the past. And while it is true that there are a myriad of curriculum packages about Asia now available on the Web, the historical quality of these materials is uneven.

The Social Studies Section at CRDG has worked to provide teachers and students with historically accurate and pedagogically sound instructional materials about Asia for the past fifteen years. We began with a curriculum package entitled China: Understanding Its Past, which includes a student book, teacher’s manual, and a compact disc with Chinese music from different regions, genres, and time periods. We followed this with a similar curriculum package in 2004 entitled The Rise of Modern Japan.

We were aware that our books on China and Japan did not address East Asia as a region and we were particularly concerned about the omission of Korea in this context.

Thus, our latest project, begun in 2005, will be a thematically based text for high school students focused on Modern East Asia and, in particular, on the inter-relationships between China, including Taiwan and Hong Kong; Japan; and South and North Korea. These materials will help prepare students to meet the changing global demands of tomorrow by arming them with knowledge of one of the most economically and politically dynamic regions of the world today.

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University of Hawaii at Manoa
College of Education
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