> Korean Textbooks over the Years: A Window into Korean Education > Introduction

Naturally, the manner in which textbooks are published and disseminated will vary from country to country. Generally speaking, however, the content of a textbook is carefully selected from "universal knowledge" as well as from the accumulated experience of human life and then presented in textbook form, the accepted standard medium for teaching and learning.

Because textbooks are the standard medium for conveying national ideologies, they exert a powerful influence. As the "student centered teaching material" used in schools, the institutionalized place for teaching and learning, textbooks are a medium with powerful attributes.

There exists hardly any book with as great an influence as textbooks. It is difficult to find a person who has not been educated by textbooks, just as it is hard to find any kind of educational activity taking place without textbooks. Textbooks are not only vital educational tools, but they are also an essential commodity for preparing a generation of students.

Textbooks, by educating a country's citizens, are the leading mechanism for accelerating a nation’s modernization process. However, since the might of textbooks can be misused by wrongdoers, there are also instances of tyrants using the textbook medium to force a certain ideology onto a people.

How have Korean textbooks changed over the years? Korea used textbooks as the primary means for modernizing itself as a nation. Such efforts to achieve enlightenment generated hope that textbooks could be used to convey knowledge and open the eyes of the people. As such, textbooks propelled Korea and its people forward towards the future.

Given this understanding, this collection has been prepared for the purpose of examining the history of Korean textbooks. We will look back on the last 100 years of Korean textbooks as classified by era, according to how they changed over time:

1. Textbooks during the Enlightenment Period: 1880-1910
2. Textbooks during the Japanese Occupation Period: 1910- August 1945
3. Textbooks during the Liberation and Government Establishing Period: August 1945- April 1954

Ten textbooks were selected for each respective time period, providing an approximately 70 year historical overview of textbooks in Korea. In doing so, we will give a general overview of how Korean textbooks changed over time.


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