Moments that Change My Life 3: About Faith

Sepertinya kuliah jurusan psikologi membuat gw banyak belajar mengenai hal-hal baru. Lots of my reflection and “awakening” dimulai dari teori-teori atau prinsip yang gw pelajari di kelas psikologi. Ada satu kelas yang bagi gw sulit tapi ternyata meaningful, yaitu kelas psikologi kognitif. Why?

Jadi, beberapa hari yang lalu di jalan pulang, gw sempat ngobrol dengan salah satu teman gw yang merupakan guru senior di sekolah tempat gw kerja. Kami awalnya bicara mengenai banyak hal, lalu menyempitlah pada satu peraturan yang pernah diterapkan di sekolah kami, yaitu mengenai kewajiban untuk solat Dzuhur berjamaah di kelas. We both agree that the essential of that rule is good. Ya, siapa yang tidak setuju bahwa praktik beragama itu tidak baik? Pada kenyataannya, murid-murid di sekolah kami ternyata banyak yang memprotes peraturan ini. Banyak sekali alasan mereka, termasuk mengenai kebebasan beragama dan memilih untuk tidak menjalankan praktik agama. Well, well…. Kalau sudah bicara mengenai hak seperti ini, memang akhirnya menjadi sulit. They have a valid opinion. I’m not saying that it’s right or wrong, I’m saying that it’s valid. Ya betul kan, mau beribadah atau tidak merupakan hak masing-masing orang. Bahkan, mau percaya Tuhan dan agama atau tidak, juga hak masing-masing orang. Nah, melawan argumen-argumen ini lah yang sulit bagi gw. Bukan karena gw tidak percaya atau karena gw tidak beribadah. Not at all. Sulit karena ketuhanan dan kepercayaan terhadap agama asalnya dari faith dimana tidak ada orang yang bisa membuat seseorang punya faith terhadap sesuatu. Sesungguhnya, Allah-lah yang dapat membolak-balikkan hati. Pada akhirnya, Rasulullah SAW meskipun sangat menyayangi pamannya dan telah berdakwah kepada pamannya, pun tidak dapat membuat Abu Thalib masuk Islam.

Nah, di dalam percakapan gw dan teman gw ini, kita melakukan refleksi lah (yekan gw sukanya emang refleksi diri). Yang kami temukan bersama adalah bagaimana seseorang dididik dalam keluarga sangat penting untuk menumbuhkan yang namanya faith ini. Kalau menurut Cambridge Dictionary, faith diartikan sebagai keyakinan atau kepercayaan tingkat tinggi terhadap sesuatu atau seseorang – bahkan ketika tidak ada alasan atau hal yang mendasarinya. Oleh karena itu, bagi saya, tampaknya sangat sulit sekali untuk memunculkan faith dalam diri seseorang. Kalau tidak dari kecil, kalau tidak dengan keyakinan yang sangat kuat, tampaknya tidak mungkin. Kembali lagi, hanya Allah yang dapat membolak-balik hati.

Cerita gw tentang faith mungkin agak sedikit berbeda. Mungkin apa yang gw pahami salah, tapi ini adalah persepsi, pemahaman, dan pengalaman gw. Alhamdulillah, gw tidak pernah menjadi orang yang tidak percaya pada Allah dan agama. Gw lahir dan dibesarkan dalam lingkungan keluarga yang sangat taat sehingga pendidikan agama gw dapat sejak sangat kecil. It kind of grows in me. Tapi gw pun tidak pernah mempertanyakan. Ya, ada lah ya, pertanyaan-pertanyaan seperti: kenapa Allah menciptakan orang jahat, dll saat gw menginjak remaja. So and so, gw tidak pernah lalu meragukan keislaman gw. I have a complete faith sampai akhirnya gw menemukan jawabannya sendiri.

Jadi, gw dulu adalah mahasiswa psikologi. Salah satu mata kuliah yang wajib kami ambil adalah psikologi kognitif. Dalam pelajaran tersebut, kami belajar mengenai bagaimana manusia berpikir, fungsi otak, dll. Intinya, otak adalah organ tubuh inti yang membedakan manusia dengan mahluk lainnya dan membuat manusia menjadi “manusia”. Susah kali bahasanya yaa… Suatu hari, kami belajar lah mengenai persepsi. Tubuh manusia itu punya reseptor sensasi, yang biasanya kita sebut indera. Nah, si indera manusia ini menyampaikan lah informasi melalui saraf ke otak. Lalu, otak menerjemahkan sensasi ini dan akhirnya kita tahu apa yang ada di sekitar kita. Sama lah, seperti input di komputer yang lalu ada output-nya. Nah, masalahnya…. Saking si otak kita ini sangat kompleks, we may not know how it translates information. And we have no way of knowing bahwa apa yang diterjemahkan otak kita itu benar atau salah. Biasanya, we come to other people to convince us that what we perceive is true. Masalahnya lagi, orang lain kan belum tentu juga otaknya “benar”. Masalahnya lagi, bagaimana kalau otak kita salah menerjemahkan input, dan ternyata orang lain itu hanya ilusi?

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And that’s when I realized: gila! Dunia ini beneran fana ya. Gimana kalau otak kita berbohong pada kita? Bagaimana kalau realita yang selama ini kita percaya, ternyata bukan realita. Maaaaaannnn…. And that time I completely believe that I need something beyond. Bahwa ada suatu zat di atas manusia yang Maha. Bahwa sesungguhnya gw butuh sesuatu yang membuat gw “sane”. Bahwa gw butuh bergantung pada janji yang diberikan sama Allah, bahwa ada dunia, nanti, yang tidak fana. Gw sangat bersyukur sih bahwa gw mendapatkan pencerahan ini. Buat gw, inilah yang membuat gw memiliki (mudah-mudahan) complete faith. Mungkin buat orang lain ini tidak logis, mungkin buat orang lain pengalaman dan pemahaman ini belum bisa membuat mereka percaya. But then again, balik lagi lagi dan lagi, hanya Allah yang bisa membolak-balikkan hati. And at the end, memang manusia tugasnya berdoa dan memohon supaya selalu dibukakan hatinya terhadap hidayah dan cahaya. Aamiin.

Photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/ryantoanugroho/?hl=en

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Moments that Change My Life 2: Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

I always believe that discomfort is the key of learning. I’ve started believing this since I was in college, studying cognitive psychology. In that class, I learned that when new information is absorbed by our brain, we try to match the information with the schema that we’ve had. The new information may fit well, or we need to adjust our schemas to receive the information, integrating it with the knowledge we’ve had. And this process causes change. This process causes discomfort. This is called cognitive dissonance.

I believe that this cognitive dissonance is actually good, which makes me think that the whole discomfort feeling may actually be the sign of change and improvements. Getting more and more aware of ourselves, sometimes it is inevitable to feel that change and learning is not fun because of this uncomfortable feeling, which makes people not willing to learn. Working in an education setting, I see a lot of students with great potential, but lack of the ability to feel uncomfortable, the humility, and the curiosity. The first one I’ve discussed in the previous paragraph. The second one, humility, is a very interesting topic.

The know-it-all person. With the height of technology use and wide access of information, our generation is very susceptible to be the know-it-all people. Without critical thinking ability and humility, I think everyone may eventually stop learning. Why? Because they think that they know everything. I truly believe that another aspect that can support one’s improvement and learning is humility; knowing that we don’t know everything. I’d discussed this too in one of my writing: https://theadventureofizzao.com/2016/10/21/ada-langit-di-atas-langit/. And arrogance is a very dangerous thing for students that hinders them from actually learning. I saw this a lot, especially with the more advanced and intelligent students. Being humble doesn’t only mean that we seek for further knowledge, but also that we are open to feedback and other people’s perspectives.

The second aspect leads to the third one, which is curiosity. I think curiosity is human nature. Everyone is born with curiosity and the ability to explore the world. One thing, back to square one again; is that one may diminish his curiosity because he is not willing to be uncomfortable. Trial and error requires someone to fail, which is not fun! Getting to know new people may exhaust us, which may also not fun! And all those “negative” consequences of trying new things sometimes prevent us from learning and from improving ourselves.

Getting out of my comfort zone is actually the key of my learning. I don’t know with other people, but I am always aware that learning and improving are not always fun. I try to think the challenges as something that can increase my capacity, and when I fail, better try next time. I am also very aware that getting out of the comfort zone is not easy. I need to push myself to do it, even if it is only online courses or trying new food recipe. However, the biggest opportunity to get out of my comfort zone was when I had to live far away from home, alone. “Merantau”, Indonesian people said. It has become a philosophy for some Indonesian people, which actually teaches a lot of life lessons.

How do I feel right now? Am I comfortable enough that I stop learning? Hmmm… maybe I am too used to this environment that I am living in? I don’t know. I still feel that I have a little bit room to explore, but maybe not for long. Maybe I need to find another area to pursue? Maybe I need to get out of my comfort zone, soon.

Mental Health and Stuff

Okay, I don’t have time to write and this is the last thing that I wrote. It is actually an assignment for my online course about Mental Health and Well-being that I join through FutureLearn. You can go to futurelearn.com to check other online courses that are free (if you don’t want certificate). The course has been very helpful!

Here it goes…

There are many things that can negatively influence mental health. This is based on entirely my opinion, shaped by my experience and observation throughout my years as a school counselor and even before that, at the time I had difficult experience related to my mental health. In my opinion, the three factors that can negatively influence our mental health are inability to cope with changes, non acceptance of life situation, and negative mindset.

Human life is full of changes. Since the theory of evolution emerges, many people believe that existence is based on one’s ability to survive and to cope with changes. Somehow I agree that people with a better quality of life is those who can adapt with the ever-changing life situation. Inability to do so may make a person feels left behind, angry, or frustrated. A small example of change is loss. I categorize many aspects of life in change, but I think almost all people may have difficulty in coping with loss. The passing of closest family member, the devastation from disaster, and so on. Those events are negative, creating a feeling of uncertainty, insecurity, etc. However, change is not always negative – but even positive changes can also negatively influence mental health. It is evident in cases where people with newly coming wealth, power, and popularity cannot cope with the change. This, again, leads to negative affect and disturbed mental health.

I believe that how we live and how we keep our mental health entirely depends on how we see the world and ourselves. Therefore, the non acceptance of our life situation will definitely negatively impact our mental health. Once we cannot make peace with what happens to us, we will have this thought that the world is unfair, that we deserve more (or less), that someone does this to us and needs to be blamed. Again, these negative affect and thought can negatively influence our mental health.

My second point is actually related to my third point, which is negative mindset. Seeing the world and our own situation as negative can diminish our motivation and spirit. This can also affect how we as human interact with other people. Expecting the worst, assuming negative events will happen, and seeing ourselves as a negative being are all evidence of negative mindset. For example, a person who has the tendency to distrust other people may approach a relationship with the feelings of cautiousness, anxiety, and distrust. He may also think that other people may take advantage of him, etc. Therefore, he builds this wall between him and others, which hinders him to create a meaningful relationship. The feeling of loneliness may come, which then may lead to worsen mental health.

In order to alleviate these factors, I think the best way is to start being aware of ourselves. This includes our emotion, thought, and behavior. By being aware of ourselves, we can also adjust our mindset and reflect on how we want to make meaning of the things around us, of the events that we experience, and of other people’s perspective. It is expected that after we’ve done this, we will have a positive mindset and the acceptance on our life situation. We can then start taking charge of ourselves, being able to help our own self in difficult situations that may threaten our mental health. After that, we can build a healthy and supportive relationship to help us go through life changes.

University 101: Independent Learning (2)

Setelah bagian pertama feels like a thousand days ago, mari kita lanjutkan seri tulisan tentang University 101 ini. Sekedar mengingatkan, seri ini sengaja saya tulis untuk teman-teman yang akan berkuliah (S1 maupun S2) untuk memberikan gambaran mengenai study skills yang dibutuhkan saat menjadi mahasiswa, terutama di universitas non-Indonesia. Namun, harusnya sih isinya pun relevan bagi teman-teman yang akan berkuliah di universitas di Indonesia. Framework artikel ini didasarkan pada sebuah online course yang saya ikuti mengenai preparing for university.

Beberapa minggu yang lalu, saya membahas mengenai the art of asking questions. Kali ini, salah satu aspek penting dalam kehidupan mahasiswa di universitas adalah independent learning. Ya, sudah besar dan dewasa (harusnya) membuat mahasiswa memiliki tanggung jawab yang lebih besar dalam memastikan keberhasilan studi-nya.

Saya jadi ingat, seminggu lalu sebuah daerah di Birmingham ‘kekeringan’ karena ada water pipe burst. Hal ini menyebabkan ada sekolah yang diliburkan karena tidak ada supply air bersih. Namanya juga musibah, pemberitahuan libur sekolah baru dilakukan oleh pihak sekolah di pagi hari, saat anak-anak sudah bersiap berangkat sekolah. Lucunya, seorang anak kawan saya menangis cukup drama karena ia sedih tidak jadi berangkat sekolah. Dasar anak-anak yaa… Sekolah membuat bahagia. Kalau kita? Hahaha…. Mungkin ada yang merasa sekolah tidak menyenangkan? Libur jadi momen yang ditunggu-tunggu?

Hmmm… harusnya sih kalau kuliah tetap semangat untuk masuk kelas ya? Mengapa? Karena harusnya kan kuliah sesuai dengan topik atau bidang yang diminati. We should be interested in what we learn in the university. Mari dicek artikel saya sebelumnya: https://theadventureofizzao.com/2016/03/27/salah-jurusan/. Kalau semangatnya harus sama dengan si anak kecil yang ingin sekali bersekolah, ada hal yang berbeda tentang libur. Bagi mahasiswa, tidak ada kelas bukan berarti tidak belajar. Whaaaat?

Pertama-tama, saya akan menjelaskan mengenai sistem belajar di universitas di UK (dan mungkin banyak negara lain). Ada isitlah yang disebut sebagai ‘contact time’. Apakah itu? Contact time berarti waktu yang dialokasikan bagi mahasiswa untuk bertemu dengan dosen. Nah, contact time ini dihitung sejumlah jam dalam satu minggu. Contact time di setiap jurusan dan jenjang pendidikan pun berbeda-beda. Ada jurusan-jurusan yang contact time-nya sedikit, seperti jurusan English Literature, Drama, dan Music (8-15 jam per minggu). Namun, ada juga jurusan yang memiliki banyak contact time, seperti International Relation dan jurusan-jurusan Social Science (20-28 jam per minggu). Bagaimana dengan jurusan Science? Biasanya mahasiswa yang mengambil jurusan Science memiliki contact time yang sedang, dengan proporsi lab work yang cukup besar. Misalnya, 15 jam contact time dan 15 jam lab work per minggu. Biasanya, ada 3 jenis pertemuan mahasiswa dengan dosen, yaitu lecture, seminar, dan tutorial. Apa bedanya? Lecture adalah kuliah, seperti kelas kuliah di Indonesia. Mahasiswa dalam satu kelas ada banyak dan biasanya dosen memegang kendali dalam memberikan penjelasan tentang suatu topik. Seminar dilakukan dalam kelompok yang lebih kecil dari lecture, dan biasanya student-based. Jadi, mahasiswa harus aktif berdiskusi, mengerjakan tugas, dan melakukan case study. Project-project pun biasanya dikerjakan selama seminar ini. Terakhir, tutorial adalah pertemuan individual satu mahasiswa dengan dosen. Biasanya, alokasi waktu ini didapatkan pada jenjang tingkat akhir S1 atau pada saat S2. Mahasiswa memiliki hak untuk bertemu dengan dosen selama sekian jam pada masa kuliah berlangsung. Hak, ya, bukan kewajiban. Jadi, mahasiswa lah yang harus menuntut haknya dengan membuat appointment dengan dosen karena dosen tidak akan mengejar-ngejar Anda untuk bertemu. Yekaliii, macam artis aja.

Wah, nggak adil dong? Ada yang kuliahnya banyak tapi ada juga yang sedikit? Nah, keadilan itu ada di independent learning. Teman-teman yang memiliki contact hour sedikit, pasti tugasnya jauh lebih banyak dibandingkan dengan teman-teman yang contact hour-nya banyak. Sebagai perbandingan, saat S2 saya memiliki contact hour 10 jam per minggu. Tugas saya ada essay 500 kata setiap minggu dan essay 6000 kata x 5 mata kuliah untuk dikumpulkan di akhir term. Suami saya memiliki contact time 20 jam per minggu dengan case study untuk setiap mata kuliah dan essay 2500 kata x 6 mata kuliah untuk dikumpulkan di akhir term. Otomatis, waktu yang saya sisihkan untuk independent learning (mengerjakan tugas) pun jadi bisa make up the difference antara contact hour saya dan contact hour suami saya. Intinya sih, sama-sama belajar!

Oke, lalu apa yang dilakukan di waktu kosong tersebut? Seperti yang sudah dijelaskan, kita bisa mengerjakan tugas, membaca bahan kuliah (reading list), dan melakukan revision. Jangan dikira hal-hal tersebut memakan waktu singkat, ya. Ini bukan SMA yang bisa ngerjain PR sebelum bel di sekolah. Hihi. semua hal tersebut memakan considerable amount of time. Jadi, alokasikan lah waktumu dengan baik. Mari kita bahas masing-masing kegiatan tersebut!

Mengerjakan tugas

Apa sih tugasnya mahasiswa? Ada banyak sekali jenis tugas yang diberikan pada mahasiswa. Kita bisa diminta untuk menulis essay, merancang dan membuat project, atau lab work. Jenis tugas biasanya tergantung jurusan yang dipilih. Biasanya, kita sudah bisa tahu tugas apa saja yang akan kita kerjakan di pertemuan kuliah pertama. Jadi, tidak seperti PR di sekolah yang ‘ujug-ujug’ diberikan, saat kuliah ini kita bisa ancang-ancang untuk mengerjakan tugas di awal masa perkuliahan. Tugas yang diberikan pun bisa berupa tugas individu atau tugas kelompok. Keduanya membutuhkan effort yang besar. Misalnya, tugas kelompok butuh kekompakan, kerja sama, dan kolaborasi dengan teman-teman sekelompok. Saat berkuliah di tempat dengan mahasiswa yang background budaya-nya berbeda, kita pun harus bisa fleksibel dan bertoleransi. Ini PR yang besar dan cukup menantang untuk dijalani. Kalau tidak mampu bekerja sama dengan baik, maka nilai kita lah yang dikorbankan. Berbeda dengan tantangan pada tugas kelompok, tugas individu membuat kita harus bersusah-susah sendiri. Jadi, banyak waktu dihabiskan di perpustakaan atau di kamar untuk membaca dan menulis. Kebosanan, godaan untuk bermain, dan kecenderungan prokrastinasi adalah tantangannya. Oleh karena itu, motivasi dan time management skills sangat dibutuhkan, terutama apabila ada banyak tugas yang harus diselesaikan dalam satu waktu.

Membaca bahan kuliah

Kegiatan lain yang bisa dilakukan saat kita tidak harus masuk kelas adalah membaca bahan kuliah. Biasanya, mahasiswa telah diberikan reading list di awal masa kuliah. Reading list ini ada yang wajib dan ada juga yang sunnah (additional). Nah, kalau yang wajib saja sudah sebareg, gimana dengan yang sunnah? Oleh karena itu, saya biasanya menyisihkan waktu khusus untuk membaca reading list dan bahan kuliah. Oh ya, kalau kuliah di luar negeri, tidak bisa lagi seperti kuliah di Indonesia yang cukup membaca slide dari dosen, ya. Hahaha… Nilai kita bisa berantakan kalau mengandalkan slide kuliah dosen. Biasanya, slide kuliah dijadikan panduan mengenai topik apa yang wajib dibaca di buku. Jadi, bahkan sebelum masuk kuliah pun si slide kuliah sudah penuh dengan coretan-coretan. Selain untuk bisa mengerti materi kuliah agar tidak cengo’ saat di dalam kelas, membaca reading list juga sangat berguna untuk menambah wawasan dan membantu dalam mengerjakan tugas. Jadi, usahakanlah untuk selalu mencoba membaca additional reading material yang bisa berupa text book, jurnal terkini, dan usahakanlah untuk selalu update informasi terkait dengan apa yang kita pelajari dari berita terkini. Saat kuliah S2 dulu, saya mengalokasikan 1 jam di pagi hari untuk membaca berita yang ada serta jurnal terbaru tentang topik yang saya pelajari.

Mengerjakan revision

Aktivitas terakhir yang bisa dilakukan di waktu kosong adalah mengerjakan revision. Apakah itu revision? Revision berarti mengulang pelajaran atau latihan. Mungkin ini bentuknya macam kita belajar di SD, saat harus membaca lagi apa yang telah dipelajari di sekolah dan mengerjakan latihan soal. Nah, si revision ini biasanya tidak lagi dilakukan saat S2 karena tugas dan pelajarannya sudah lebih banyak ke arah developing ideas, bukan memahami konsep dasar. Nah, apa yang dibutuhkan saat revision? Tentunya materi yang telah dipelajari (bisa berupa catatan, slide kuliah, atau video) dan latihan soal. Untuk lebih baik lagi dalam melakukan revision, kita perlu tahu metode belajar yang paling nyaman bagi diri kita sendiri. Dengan begitu, revision bisa dilakukan dengan efektif dan hasil belajar pun lebih baik.

 

Seperti yang telah disebutkan di atas, independent learning ini sangat penting pada jenjang universitas karena mahasiswa tidak lagi ‘disuapi’ oleh dosen. Kemajuan belajar kita akan tergantung pada diri kita sendiri, tergantung usaha yang kita keluarkan. Selain itu, latihan independent learning pada saat berkuliah dapat melatih diri kita agar menjadi life-long learner, pembelajar seumur hidup. Skill ini sangat dibutuhkan terutama saat kita bekerja karena progress karir pun akan sebanding dengan luasnya pengetahuan yang dimiliki. Oleh karena itu, ada atau tidak sarananya, kita harus bisa meng-upgrade pengetahuan dan kemampuan kita tanpa harus didorong oleh orang lain atau ‘dipaksa’ oleh pihak eksternal.

Independent learning is a skill. Tapi, di dalamnya ada berbagai keterampilan yang juga dibutuhkan dan terkait, seperti kemampuan mengatur waktu, kemampuan memecahkan masalah, kemampuan kolaborasi, motivasi internal dan eksternal, serta kemampuan untuk memahami diri sendiri. Yuk, tingkatkan kemampuan kita dan mulai membiasakan diri untuk menjadi pembelajar mandiri.
Nantikan artikel berikutnya masih dalam topik University 101, yaa. Terima kasih sudah membaca.

Falling in Love

One of the happiest moments during my time teaching in a primary school was when I looked at my students and their eyes bright with interest and enthusiasm in learning. I think that kind of passion in very rewarding for educators because they know that what students learn is going to be meaningful for the students. However, it may not happen a lot in schools these days. I saw students complain about the school, how it makes them bored, how the subjects they learn are useless, and how they want to get out of it as soon as possible. They do not feel, as Pranoto (2012) called, the experience of being in love with learning.

Then, I saw a talk by Robinson (2012) who mentioned that children nowadays are being robbed by the education system. They lost their excitement in learning. How come? I think humans have brains to think and to learn. It almost seems like students nowadays are robots who do what they are told, do not do what they are not told or what they are prohibited to, and feel no emotion during their learning process. People should feel something during the process of learning because they experience cognitive dissonance (Piaget, 1929) which makes people uncomfortable about their state of mind and therefore seek for equilibrium. This may explain why humans are naturally curious and motivated to seek for more.

Probably the reason of people’s disinterest in learning is that because learning, mostly related to an institution called school, instead of coming through personal interest, becomes the commodity of external forces, such as parents, teachers, and even governments. There is no more personal value put into education and learning. It is just something you do because you have to and you have no other choice. It seems, at least for me, that students now have a robotic tendency. They are controlled by others, have some kind of “intelligence” to “operate” but still, have no free will. No free will means no human, no?

The prison called school, invented by the education system makes those students, the ones in touch with education, those who experience education, devalue it. Education has no personal value anymore. What’s in it for students here and now, then? I can imagine how a student in remote area who has never seen airplane need to learn to count the speed of an airplane. It just does not make any sense. Yes, this is the era of global information when everyone can access everything from everywhere theoretically, but not in reality. The reality is curriculum used in education is irrelevant for students’ closest environment, to the present situation now as in 1973 when Freire suggested it. The content of education does not give people the ability to meet individual and local needs (Colin, 2011).

Education, despite of its purpose for global society, is about human. The priority should not be the benefit for the society first, but for the people educated first; as if the emergency situation in airplane requires people to help themselves first before helping others. Education needs to trigger sparks in people. People need to feel that it is worthwhile (Gingell & Winch, 2008). In order to do that, what is learned needs to be meaningful for them, connected to reality. Education, the content and process of it needs to be loveable so that people are in love with it.

May 28, 2013

Learning

“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.”

John Dewey

My take: People are learning creatures. We are learning all the time, in everything that we do and experience. Problems only arise if what surrounds us is negative, and if we haven’t been equipped (by others, by past experiences) to deal with that in a positive way. If the things we are adapting to, learning from and learning about are problematic, then we will develop problematic ideas and habits.

So if we’re interested in trying to ensure that learners have certain skills and understandings, we need to think about creating environments and activities that compel learners to make certain connections and develop certain skills over others. Instead of enumerating what we want them to know and trying to teach those things directly (rarely as effective as most people think), we should be designing learning environments where they can do things that will demand the kind of thinking (and eventually, learning) we want.

 

 

Sustainable

I was thinking lately about this word. Sustainable. The first time I really involved with this word was when I had to teach my private student about 8 goals of MDGs. But then, it turns out that I have to use the word more often.

Several months ago I went home with my friend from school where I worked. I had a chat with her about some of my students. We were wondering why their scores in so many subjects are bad. I thought that there are three possible reasons for this.

First, the reason is unclear explanation from the teachers. But then there will be so many teachers at stake here. There is one teacher for one subject and we doubt that all teachers are that incompetent. No way. They are hired as a teacher for some reasons and the reasons must be good. Nope, I don’t think that the teachers are the reason.

The second reason is students’ preparedness of the test. It should be worked out by teachers and parents. At school they study, do exercises and they did well. They were given homework to study at home. I am quite sure that the parents were aware of the upcoming exam and asked their kids to learn. Well, at least the kids told so.

Then there is the third reason. Maybe they can’t absorb the materials and extract them when they are needed! Humans have brains, right? How can they not be able to absorb knowledge? I remembered one of my students who always gets answer for his questions easily. Whenever he is challenged, he step back and choose not to try. Maybe that is the reason. They always get the answers to their questions easily that they don’t have to think, analyze, and strive to come up with an answer.

Finally I concluded. The later reason lead me to think that maybe the schooling system which depends a lot on test scores makes children feel that learning is only a way to get good scores. If children can get good scores not by learning, then what’s the point? Maybe this is what Freire (1996) warned as the result of banking concept in education which reduce the whole educational experience into test scores. People forget the educational process. They forget, as Pranoto (2012) said, how to fall in love with learning, knowledge, and science. Education is treated as a mean to an end while it should make people to be full of resources which will benefit them in the future. Education makes people educated and educated people make what they got from education sustain in order to benefit not only themselves but other people and their environment, to make people and the world sustainable.

May 7, 2013

Days without Personal Vehicle

These past two days, not as usual, I went to work without driving my personal vehicle. Actually, I am just bored doing the same thing (driving) everyday and day. So, I decided to take public transportation as my way to go to work.

As you may already know, public transportation in Jakarta is.. well… not that good. Compared to other metropolitan cities, Jakarta’s public transportation system is super inconvenient. Even though the government already facilitates the public with Trans Jakarta, people still have to wait for a long time before the buses arrive. Then, there are lots of people using that same kind of transportation so the bus will be full, even overloaded. Some of additional facilities in Trans Jakarta also need to be repaired. In one of the buses I use the door can’t be closed properly. See? Even the best public transportation in Jakarta (well, at least in my opinion) is not that comfortable.

However, I always love the experience of traveling by public transportation. I realized that by using public transportation, I can sharpen my social senses. Well, maybe there’s no such thing as social senses, but I can say so because I can be more conscious about my surroundings. I really like to observe around, see what other people doing, try to guess what they feel, what they did, or what are they going to do. Those things can make me reflect to myself.

On the first day I used Trans Jakarta, I saw the driver of Trans Jakarta stops every once in a while to give street cleaners some food and drinks. I wonder why that driver do that. I really feels like I am being reminded about giving and gratefulness. The driver himself maybe still in need of foods but he gave the food to others. Why couldn’t I do that as well?

Then, when I went home, I used the 612 bus. I used that bus to travel from my house to school when I was in high school. It was a long time before yesterday I used the bus again. The 612 buses are still moving like a snail. It was so slow that 15 minutes normal ride becomes 30 minutes ride. When I was in that bus, I saw three women sitting and talking. Looking at their appearance, it was clear that they are career women. They were going to have dinner and then go back to their office. It was like 7 p.m. and they were having a short break before they continue working!! Life is hard, baby!

By looking at other people’s work, courage, spirit, and will; I can learn so much. Learning isn’t always have to associated with books, classes, and schools because life itself is also the biggest media to learn.

 Feb 10, 2012