Belajar dari Keberagaman (1)

Sudah lama sebenarnya ingin menulis ini, tapi entah kenapa selalu tertunda. Tema ini bagi saya sangat menggelitik. Sesuatu yang mungkin tidak kita sadari saat tinggal di tempat yang homogen, tetapi sangat terasa saat berada di lingkungan yang sangat multikultural. Keberagaman alias diversity. Kata yang akhir-akhir ini seringkali di dengar, entah karena zaman yang sudah mengglobal, semakin tipisnya jarak antarbudaya, atau karena paham-paham pluralisme. Meskipun baru populer, bukan berarti keberagaman baru saja terjadi. Oh no! Sejak zaman dahulu pun, manusia sudah tersebar di seluruh muka bumi, berbeda-beda.

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْناكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ وَأُنْثى وَجَعَلْناكُمْ شُعُوباً وَقَبائِلَ لِتَعارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

“Hai manusia, sesungguhnya Kami menciptakan kamu dari seorang laki-laki dan seorang perempuan dan menjadikan kamu berbangsa-bangsa dan bersuku-suku supaya kamu saling mengenal. Sesungguhnya orang yang paling mulia di antara kamu di sisi Allah ialah orang yang paling bertakwa di antara kamu. Sesungguhnya Allah Maha Mengetahui lagi Maha Mengenal”. (Qs. al-Hujurat: 13)

Yak! Di Al Quran pun ada loh, ayat yang membahas mengenai keberagaman. Berarti, ini adalah suatu hal yang niscaya, hal yang pasti adanya dan manusia perlu belajar darinya.

Ngapain sih Za, bahas ini? Pertama, saya ter-trigger oleh percakapan-percakapan kecil dengan seorang anak mengenai dirinya yang berbeda dengan teman-temannya. Maklum saja, saya dan banyak orang Indonesia lain yang tinggal di UK ini kan menjadi anak rantau, diaspora, yang tentu berbeda dengan orang-orang asli UK. Namun, yang berbeda bukan hanya kami. UK adalah negara multikultural. Ada banyak sekali ras, agama, budaya, dan warna kulit yang beragam. Jadi, di negara ini, keberagaman adalah suatu hal yang kasat mata. Berbeda tentunya dengan kondisi di Indonesia yang orang-orangnya pun secara fisik tidak jauh berbeda. Istilahnya, di UK kami terpapar keberagaman eksplisit, sedangkan di Indonesia kita terpapar keberagaman implisit. Ya, kan? Secara fisik mirip bukan berarti tidak berbeda.

Lalu, beberapa waktu terakhir ini saat sudah memasuki bulan Ramadan, si anak kecil ini berkomentar ‘ih, kan nggak boleh ya makan siang hari waktu Ramadan. Orang lain kan ada yang puasa? Nanti yang makan ditangkap’. Jiahaha…. Namanya juga anak-anak, kan? Konsep saling menghormati, otoritas moral, dan perbedaan masih jadi suatu hal yang sangat vague. Saya jadi ingat teori mengenai perkembangan moral-nya Kohlberg yang mengatakan bahwa anak-anak (dan banyak juga orang dewasa yang tidak berkembang penalaran moralnya) masih berada di tahap membedakan benar dan salah karena ada otoritas dan peraturan. Segalanya diterjemahkan secara literal sehingga tidak ada proses berpikir lebih dalam. Jadi, wajar toh si anak berkomentar seperti itu? Penalaran sederhana dan berdasarkan pengamatan. Lah? Memangnya di UK ada aturan orang yang makan siang saat orang lain puasa harus ditangkap? No. Mungkin si anak belajar dari perkataan orang dewasa lain? Mungkin juga ia belajar dari pengamatan bahwa di Indonesia, makan dengan terang-terangan pada saat siang hari di bulan Ramadan adalah hal yang tabu dan perlu mendapatkan semacam ‘punishment’. Terbukti kan, tindakan penutupan warung makan secara paksa berakar dari penalaran pendek macam anak-anak, merupakan bentuk ‘punishment’, dan menurut saya, bentuk nyata dari kurangnya kesadaran akan keberagaman. Bahayanya, masyarakat luas, bahkan anak-anak, lalu belajar dari perilaku mereka dan menginternalisasi penalaran pendek.

Saya sangat bersyukur mendapatkan kesempatan untuk hidup di sebuah negara dengan kultur yang berbeda dengan Indonesia. Saya juga bersyukur bisa merasakan hidup di lingkungan multicultural, dimana saya adalah minoritas. Yah, kita tidak akan selamanya jadi kaum mayoritas, kan? Apa rasanya, Za? Rasanya… saya jadi selalu diingatkan untuk terus menerus menyadari adanya keberagaman dan perbedaan dan untuk terus menerus berusahan untuk menghargai orang lain dan bertoleransi. Yang berbeda belum tentu buruk, yang berbeda belum tentu salah. Slogan ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ jadi ucapan yang tidak hanya ucapan, tapi berusaha untuk dipraktikkan.

Terbayang nggak, kalau di negeri minoritas Muslim ini orang-orang yang makan di siang hari saat bulan Ramadan ditangkap? Bisa-bisa perekonomian mati dan tinggal segelintir orang yang masuk sekolah, kantor, dan tempat-tempat publik lainnya. Lalu, apakah jadinya terbalik, justru umat Islam yang harus bertoleransi terhadap orang-orang yang tidak berpuasa? Well, toh orang-orang non Muslim disini yang mengetahui bahwa kita berpuasa pun menghargai kok. Setidaknya dengan mengucap ‘Ramadan Kareem’ atau dengan meminta maaf saat harus makan di hadapan kita.

Bagi saya, toleransi adalah two-way interaction. Kalau dulu di Indonesia yang mayoritas penduduknya adalah umat Islam dan berasal dari ras Melayu, maka bukan berarti hanya yang minoritas yang harus bertoleransi pada yang mayoritas. Saat yang minoritas bertoleransi dengan tidak makan di area umum, maka yang mayoritas pun harus bertoleransi dengan memahami bahwa ada orang yang tidak berpuasa dan harus makan. Ya, nggak? Sama juga seperti saya di sini. Ketika saya bertoleransi dengan mereka yang tidak berpuasa dan harus melihat di depan mata orang-orang tersebut makan dan minum, mereka pun bertoleransi dengan menghargai keputusan saya untuk berpuasa. It goes around.

Mungkin kita semua harus lebih banyak lagi terpapar keberagaman sehingga bisa belajar lebih banyak lagi tentang toleransi. Suatu hal yang saat diukur, mungkin tidak ada titik tertingginya juga. Oleh karena itu, kita, terutama saya, harus lebih banyak lagi berefleksi, menghayati, mengalami, dan mengamati sehingga bisa menjadi orang yang lebih bijak dalam menghadapi perbedaan.

Selamat berpuasa, selamat tidak berpuasa, selamat berlatih bertoleransi.

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Life Balance

Sekitar dua tahun yang lalu – Gosh, I’m old! – saya mengikuti sebuah pelatihan. Pada saat itu, semua peserta pelatihan diminta untuk menuliskan karakter diri masing-masing, baik yang bersifat positif maupun negatif. Setelah menuliskan karakter diri, saya baru menyadari bahwa kelebihan saya juga adalah kekurangan saya – to some extent. Kok bisa? Saya lupa seluruh jawaban saya pada saat itu, tapi beberapa karakter yang saya tulis adalah determined (positif), organized (positif), stubborn (negatif), dan over thinker (negatif). Tentunya, semua karakter tersebut tidak muncul dalam satu waktu yang sama. Kalau iya, aneh banget. Haha. In a way, karakter-karakter yang saya sebutkan saling berhubungan. Di satu sisi, saya adalah orang yang keukeuh kalau punya keinginan. Believe me, my parents know it well! Pada situasi yang baik, tentunya jadi karakter yang baik karena saya jadi berusaha untuk mencapai tujuan saya. Di situasi lain, hal tersebut menjadi suatu karakter negatif karena saya menjadi keras kepala, nggak mau dibilangin. Saya juga tipe orang yang organized. Saya suka merencanakan sesuatu, saya berpikir dan mengatur hidup saya. To some negative extent, saya bisa menjadi orang yang terlalu banyak berpikir sehingga keputusan yang saya buat lama, terlalu banyak pertimbangan, dan lain-lain. Saya lalu menyadari bagaimana cara saya meminimalisir kekurangan saya – hidup seimbang. Kalau saya bisa menjaga agar karakter saya tidak ekstrem maka seharusnya saya bisa menjadi manusia yang memiliki karakter lebih baik. Right?

Kejadiannya dua tahun lalu, tapi kenapa sekarang menulisnya? Mungkin karena paparan media sosial yang cukup besar saya terima akhir-akhir ini (ya, ini salah saya sendiri). Banyak sekali berita mengenai berbagai isu dan beberapa diantaranya menarik perhatian saya. Misalnya, mengenai gaya hidup para penerima beasiswa, mengenai orang tua yang memboikot televisi bagi anak-anak mereka, hingga mengenai jumlah jam tidur. Intinya, ada banyak perspektif dan komentar mengenai bagaimana seseorang harus mengatur hidupnya. Do we have the right to judge and to direct other people?

Membaca banyak artikel-artikel tersebut membuat saya melakukan refleksi diri (bukan pijat refleksi, OOT kangen banget pijet…). Mana yang benar? Mana yang harus saya ikuti? Hingga saya sampai pada kesimpulan bahwa kuncinya adalah keseimbangan dan niat. Life is short and death is sure. Sekarang, bagaimana memanfaatkan yang ada di dunia untuk akhirat. Toh, semua yang jadi perbincangan dan pro kontra akan balik-balik lagi ke tujuannya apa. Ya, kan?

Contoh, satu isu yang cukup menarik dan menggelitik adalah beberapa opini mengenai gaya hidup para penerima beasiswa. Sebagai orang yang terpapar langsung terhadap hal tersebut, saya mencoba menghayati apa sih yang mendasari pendapat yang berbeda-beda tersebut. Berdasarkan artikel-artikel yang saya baca, banyak yang mempertanyakan keseriusan para penerima beasiswa dalam belajar dan mempertanyakan aktivitas jalan-jalan mereka. Intinya, para penerima beasiswa seharusnya bisa serius belajar dan membalas budi beasiswa yang tidak sedikit jumlahnya tersebut ke rakyat Indonesia. Setuju!But are we not allowed to spend money?

Saya yakin, insyaAllah para penerima beasiswa pun amanah dan menepati janji mereka pada saat mendaftar beasiswa. Namun, bagi saya keseriusan dalam belajar dan berprestasi tidak 100% relevan dengan jumlah jalan-jalan dan aktivitas yang katanya foya-foya dengan uang rakyat. Apa tidak bisa, seseorang berprestasi baik, berkontribusi besar, dan tetap bisa menikmati hidup? Semua orang berpendapat berbeda, tapi apabila saya melihat dari kacamata keseimbangan dan niat, rasanya kegiatan beraktivitas non-akademis tidak bisa dieliminasi begitu saja semata-mata karena harus berprestasi dan berkontribusi. Kalau seseorang bisa mendapatkan nilai distinction di semua mata kuliah, aktif membantu masyarakat Indonesia dan berorganisasi tapi tetap jalan-jalan saat liburan untuk refreshing, apa itu salah? And again, it comes back to personal opinion. Dan lagi, uang negara adalah hal yang sensitif dan bukan untuk main-main.

Let’s move to another example. Kali ini mungkin lebih bisa dipahami oleh semua orang. Lagi-lagi masalah uang – kali ini uang pribadi. Beberapa minggu lalu, saya sedang mengobrol dengan salah satu teman mengenai keinginan saya untuk membeli sebuah tas. Komentarnya, “Tas X bukannya terjangkau ya, Za untuk orang seumuran kita, apalagi kalau suami istri bekerja?” Lalu kami berdiskusi dan sampai pada kesimpulan bahwa ya, mungkin saya punya uang untuk membeli tas tersebut tanpa harus menabung tapi saya punya hal-hal lain yang ingin saya lakukan sehingga tabungan saya harus direlakan untuk hal-hal lain tersebut. Saya harus membuat prioritas, saya harus mengerti mana yang didahulukan. Saya sendiri pernah mengalami masa-masa tidak mau membeli barang baru – sama sekali. Lalu saya ditegur oleh ibu saya. Ibu saya bilang, jangan membuat diri sendiri menderita kalau memang saya tidak harus menderita dan mampu. Indeed, money is not an easy thing to deal with.

Selain uang, ada juga waktu. Suatu hal yang harus digunakan dengan bermanfaat (at least bagi saya). Kenapa? Karena waktu tidak akan pernah kembali. What we’ve spent were spent, period. Setiap orang tentu memiliki cara berbeda untuk menghabiskan waktu. Ada yang banyak bekerja, ada yang banyak bersosialisasi, ada yang banyak beribadah, ada juga yang banyak tidur. Semua itu adalah pilihan pribadi. Dan pilihan, selalu memiliki konsekuensi. Ya, tinggal dipikirkan saja toh, niatnya apa? Tujuannya apa? Lagi-lagi, bagi saya kuncinya adalah seimbang. Terlalu banya bekerja, tidak baik juga. Terlalu banyak bersosialisasi, (bagi saya, sih) cape juga. So what? Berkacalah pada kebutuhan masing-masing, aturlah berdasarkan standar masing-masing.

Bagi saya, orang yang paling berpengaruh dalam membentuk pendapat saya mengenai keseimbangan dan niat adalah ibu saya. Melanjutkan cerita saya yang tidak mau membeli barang baru, ibu saya bertanya lima hal. Pertama, berapa uang yang saya miliki? Kedua, sudahkah saya membayar zakat dan bersedekah? Ketiga, apakah saya membutuhkan barang tersebut? Keempat, apakah saya mampu membeli barang tersebut? Kelima, apakah saya bisa menyisihkan uang saya untuk menabung? Kalau jawaban dari empat pertanyaan terakhir adalah ya, kenapa tidak saya menggunakan uang saya untuk membeli barang yang saya inginkan? Pertanyaan-pertanyaan tersebut merefleksikan sebuah prinsip:do your responsibility, help people in need, spend based on your needs and capabilities. Tentunya, prinsip tersebut tidak hanya bisa diaplikasikan dalam konteks finansial, tetapi juga dalam berbagai konteks lainnya.

Menulis artikel ini membuat saya banyak berpikir lagi, mengevaluasi diri lagi. Sepertinya, banyak area hidup saya yang masih belum seimbang. Saya belum mengatur waktu saya dengan baik, saya masih cukup boros dan ignorant terhadap spending saya, dan lain-lain. Anyway, realizing is the first step of change. Semoga saya bisa menjadi orang yang lebih seimbang dan diluruskan niatnya oleh Allah.

O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess. Say, “Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has produced for His servants and the good [lawful] things of provision?” Say, “They are for those who believe during the worldly life [but] exclusively for them on the Day of Resurrection.” Thus do We detail the verses for a people who know. (Quran, Chapter# 7, Verses#31-32)

Feb 12, 2016

Humanising Human

As education means to nourish (Gingell & Winch, 2008), one question comes into my mind: Who does it nourish? The players in education are people, human beings. And human beings, at least in my opinion, should be treated as human. However, as education nowadays is seen as a tool in globalised world – mostly seen from the economic point of view (Ball, 2006), people are regarded to be economic-, instead of human-being in education. Look at the statements mentioned by government officials, such as Indonesian vice president, Boediono (2012) who wrote that the purpose of education is to produce people who are competent in the workplace so that the national income can be increased.

In order to meet the demand from the government as a response of globalisation in economic sense, schools as the most common educational institution act as human factories. In a movie called Waiting for Superman (2010), I saw a clear description of students, categorised and directed towards different path of education in order to meet the workforce and business demand based on their test scores and intelligence. It seems like students, human beings, are treated as objects that can be controlled and moved around.

In another explanation, Freire (2008) proposed the concept of banking education which treats students as containers of knowledge. Education in this perspective seems to act as bank that deposits knowledge. How weird is that? Education which supposed to be controlled by human in general acts as if it is human and students – the human beings – are treated as if they are some kind of jars – non living things. Of course education in reality is controlled by human but only those who have power but nonetheless those people hide behind the ‘innocence’ of education. Then again, one can conclude from this point of view that education is used by people in power to oppress young people as what Freire (1996) suggested. It is a tool for the government to oppress citizens in order to achieve better economic performance which again benefits certain groups of people.

In my opinion, education should be used to humanise human. Education can be used as a tool to liberate people from globalised world’s ‘slavery’ to be fully capable human beings. Students, young people, or people in general should be the owner of globalised world, not the workers in it. I believe that it is the ideal condition as it is explained in the Koran that humans are the ones who inherit the world. The word inherit contains a sense of ownership, control, and power over the object. In order to do this – humanising human – Freire (1973) suggested that education should make people aware that they have the power to face challenges of the world.

One can see a sense of human empowerment in the process of humanising human. People need not to be passive which dehumanising, the lowest form of defence mechanism believed in critical psychology. Instead, they need to be reflective, a restless act to pursue knowledge through invention (Freire, 1973) so that they can act appropriately. Education should be able to empower people or students maybe, and make them capable of being truly humans in the era of globalisation now. Education need to humanise human if not re-humanise human at this point.

May 28, 2013

What is this feeling?

This is NOT an affectionate text. If you know me well then you might have guessed. Haha!

I talked to my friend, Chysa, a few weeks ago. We were basically in the same situation and we felt the same thing. WE WERE BORED! Yes, we live in a small city in Yorkshire area and for city girls like us, it is different from the life we lived before. But still… we shouldn’t feel that bored.

It was not that we were bored because we have nothing to do. Believe me, we have loads to do. It was more emotional. We both felt like we didn’t feel enough emotion (if there is such a thing). See, if we are happy then we’re not that happy. If we are sad then we’re not that sad. If we’re angry then we’re not that angry. Why??

I suppose balance is the key for everything, right? And what I described before suppose to be balance, am I correct? Happy but not that happy; sad but not that sad… But is there such a thing called balance in terms of emotion? Can we be partially stimulated in our limbic system? Any neuropsychologist?? I wonder… (*brb reading neuro books)

Well, then a few days ago I read this article in the guardian. The writer described differences of the situation in the tube in London and New York. And guess what, the writer found that it is busier, louder, and I suppose more dynamic in New York. The tube is quiet, people are more self-absorbed with their own activities, and there were only a little human interaction in London.

Maybe it is a cultural thing, then? I mean, here in the UK people are more self-conscious, quiet, mannered (?) and therefore those who live in UK may not feel extreme emotion. It is my assumption, really. But hey, which one would you choose? Would you rather feel more extreme emotion even though it may not be always pleasant OR would you choose the so so situation?

I will definitely choose the one where I wouldn’t get bored.

May 21, 2013

Concept of Value in Education

In my opinion value is a special message embedded in education. It may consciously or unconsciously transferred to students. It reflects the condition of the society, of what regarded important by the society, or maybe even what is regarded important by the educator.

For example, in 1929 an Indonesian educator established an education system which called ‘freedom system’ (Takwin, 2010). The value brought by that system is independence; the ability to be obedient but autonomous. It reflects  high level of nationalism because at that time, Indonesia was trying to get its independence.

A couple of decades later, the system was substituted by more moderate curriculum, which stresses on conformity. Governed by authoritarian leader, schools promote uniformity. Differences were seen as something inappropriate and those who show different opinion or idea may be punished.

After Indonesian reformation in 1998 the value internalized in education changed again. People have started to put emphasis on individual development and embrace diversity. The government, until now, is still trying to increase economic resource. Education is seen as a mean to produce qualified people who can work to increase economical power. According to Indonesian vice president, Boediono (2012), education is a strategic sector because it will prepare future workers in getting their skills in science and technology. It is also used to support country’s development through social, economical, and political construction.

The examples above are the example of how value of education changes across time according to the leader, circumstances, or external forces. However value transfer is not limited to the big ones. In small scale, a teacher may transfer his personal value to the students.

There are lots of needs and agenda that people want to insert into education. It seems for me, that adults or whoever got the power can promote one or certain value to children through education. But what about what children want? What about the value of children itself? If education is used to internalized values to children, then for whom the education actually is? Is it for children and students? Is it for those who got the power? What if children are given so many values that they are actually confused? Isn’t education then going to create those confused, valueless apathy people?

Dec 06, 2012

What Education Means to Me

Every person may have different understanding about education. Some people define education as schooling; some others relate education to learning activities. In my opinion, education is a lifelong, social context related process which involves getting information from environment and reflecting obtained information within self. It enables one to survive and it is important to make one’s life more valuable and beneficial for others.

Education is not limited to particular time duration. Human is born with capable mind which can be used for a life time. It is not limited to school, because education can be taken everywhere. It is a process because education should persist and gradually change one’s skill, ability, or behaviour. Education is always related to social context because the level of importance of skills or abilities differs in every society. For example, in a fisherman village, a child learns how to fish in early year. He may not attend special course about fishing, but practically helping his father educates him to be a fisherman. His experience continues to make him an expert and in implicit way it educates him to be a better fisherman. Fishing skill may be important in a fisherman village but in a modern city it might be placed in the bottom of education priority.

Education involves two things. The first one is getting information. Human senses enable human to receive stimulus. Therefore it is human nature to be able to receive information from external world. Inputs received by senses then processed in human brain and eventually the information can be used in any way to help human live. Education also involves personal reflection. What is obtained from surroundings will be interpreted in a specific personal way. One can reflect and learn through one’s own perception. This will cause education unique, different for everybody even though the education received is similar.

Education enables human to survive. Obtained skills and abilities from education will definitely help one to not only survive but also make the quality of one’s life better. Education is a crucial thing in human’s life because it is a mean to make one’s life more valuable and to enable human to help each other. By education, an average fisherman can be a better fisherman, gives a better life for his family. In addition, the fisherman can also help other people by providing more fish, opening job opportunities, or even educating other fisherman.

My version of the meaning of education involves three principles. It is a lifelong, social context related process. There are two activities in education, which are receiving information and processing the information by reflecting it within self. The aim of education is to make human survive, to enhance the quality of human’s life, and to enable human gives benefit for others.

Oct 07, 2012

A Woman from Saudi

Yesterday was my first day in the university. I am attending a master program in education, specializing in early childhood studies. As a common first days, I met new friends. Half of my class are international students. They came from all around the world (literally all around, from China to America). One of them is this woman from Saudi. Yes, I am bad at names so I can’t remember her name. But this is her story.

She came late to introductory class yesterday. After the class was over she came to me and asked about things that she missed. We chatted during the lunch break and I got to know her better.

She is a beautiful woman from Saudi. She looks very young that I didn’t expect that she has kids already. And her kids are teenagers! She came to UK 5 months ago with her kids. She told me that these past few months are hard for her because she had to live without her husband and took care of her kids and studied. I think she must be really strong that she can manage to survive this long. I really do hope that she can achieve what she is here for.

She seemed fine and enjoying her life. However, she said that this is not the life she wants. If she could, she wouldn’t get married and wouldn’t have kids. As a common Arabic culture, marriage is arranged by family. A girl or a woman usually doesn’t have her right to choose and to say no. She is married for this long and while she was living abroad without her husband, she realized that her husband has another woman. I can’t imagine how hard it is for her. She said that if she knew it a long time ago, maybe she won’t be in this marriage. Now, she just left it all behind and try to live her life.

As we walked wandering the campus the rain fell down. She said that she loves rain. It was beautiful. She said hamdalah more and more. Yesterday, I tried to understand her position. I tried to imagine how is life for her. At the end, I remembered a thing that she said.

“We should be thankful for what we have and life is full of problems. As long as we have our God by us then we should be grateful all the time”

Sep 25, 2012