Sunday, June 20, 2010

What Your Teacher Didn't Tell You

"WHAT YOUR TEACHER DIDN'T TELL YOU: The Annexe Lectures, Vol.1”, published by Matahari Books, is a collection of texts of Farish Noor’s free public lectures at The Annexe Gallery.

Dr. Farish A. Noor might just be Malaysia's hippest intellectual. His gifts are on full display in these expanded versions of public lectures that he delivered at The Annexe Gallery, Central Market Kuala Lumpur in 2008 and 2009.

Find out how “racial difference” became such a big deal in Malaysia, and contrast this against the way our distant ancestors lived. Discover the hidden stories of the keris, Hang Tuah and PAS. There's also quite a bit of sex. Erudite, impassioned and sometimes just plain naughty, “WHAT YOUR TEACHER DIDN'T TELL YOU” is a stimulating plunge into aspects of our past that have been kept from us.

On the whole, this book is a fascinating read. Trust me, local history has never been more interesting. The book triggers your brain into being critical of what we perceive, reveals shocking secrets of our ancestors, and visits the unconventional history which ours teachers never told us about, the book is written in simple language and punched with some cynicism and a dash of sarcasm, but never the less containing academic vigor that one would expect from a university course. It looks at our history in the context of the present day, making it pertinent and contemporary. It forces us to question years of indoctrination about just who we are and why we are the way we are.

Reading this book has challenged me to think more critically, it has inspired me to deconstruct and analyze matters from a neutral point of view, to continue learning, to further appreciate the fineness of our culture of our past and our future. It has taught me to understand how perception is built, how facts are manipulated, how truth always prevails, and how moral is more then just a code of conduct. It has taught me to research beyond what meets the eye, beyond what perception paints, to be prudent in my course and to think beyond the obvious.

I recommend this book to those who are interested in understanding our past, our present and building our future, for those who have a taste for the naked truth, for those who enjoy academic arguments, for those who have always had that little something for their history teachers. Finally before I end my review I would like to quote Professor Dr Azmi Sharom’s preface to the book.

Academic freedom is a prerequisite of academic excellence. In the words of Chief Justice Earl Warren in the case of Sweezy v New Hampshire (1957):

To impose any straightjacket upon the intellectual leaders in our colleges and universities would imperil the future of the nation. No field of education is so thoroughly comprehended by man that new discoveries cannot yet be made. Particularly is that true in the social sciences where few, if any, principles are accepted as absolute.

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