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

The Concept of Value in Education

In my opinion, value is a special message embedded in education. It may consciously or unconsciously transferred from those who are in power to students or those who have less power. As education is not an isolated function (Mittler, 2000), value in education reflects the condition of society.

The history of education and its value in Indonesia may be as far back as Netherland’s colonialism. At that time, education, which only accessible for upper class people, promoted western concepts and way of life. National value was socialised to be negative in order to strengthen Dutch’s power. Around the time of Indonesian independence, an Indonesian educator, Ki Hajar Dewantara, established an education system which was called ‘freedom system’ because its value was independence; ability to be obedient but autonomous (Takwin, 2010). It reflects the high level of nationalism because at that time Indonesia was pursuing and maintaining its independence. In the late 1960s, the system was substituted by a curriculum that stresses on conformity. Governed by an authoritarian leader, differences were seen as inappropriate; and people’s freedom was once again robbed, now by their own nation kin.

Since Indonesian reformation in 1998, educational environment has been unstable. People’s regained freedom creates new and various values that people want to attach to education. However those values are defeated by the largest problem faced by Indonesia, economy. According to Indonesian vice president, Boediono (2012), education is a strategic sector used to prepare future workers in getting their skills in science and technology. The statement implies that education is a mean to get skills and diplomas in order to get good jobs which ends in good payment and higher tax income to increase national economic power. Despite the government’s need of educated people, politicians inside the government devalue people who have higher education degree. It is shown by some politician’s statement that people who study abroad are thieves (Febriyan, 2012) and that people who graduated from high-rank national university are corruptors (Andhika, 2012). Government’s treatment towards people with higher education degree creates confusion about how the government values education.

Tracing back to the history of Indonesian education, I think most education systems, except the freedom system, has brought values that devalue students as human beings by using them to fulfill the needs of those who have power. Indonesian perspective about education is almost the same as what Freire (1996) called as “banking concept of education” or what Lipman (2009) called as “economizing of education” which sees men as objects. In my opinion, education should not be used as a ‘machine’ to give more power to powerful people; it should be used as a strategy to distribute the power in order to empower all people. The value of education should be attempted to humanize human; regarding people not as objects of civilization system but actors who transform the civilization.

Mar 07, 2013

“Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better are the results; or escalation leads to success. The pupil is thereby “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence and fluency with the ability to say something new.””Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better are the results; or escalation leads to success. The pupil is thereby “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence and fluency with the ability to say something new.”

 

Ivan Illich

Deschooling Society, 1971

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