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Reviewing the Dynamics of Our Education

(Foto: Korokodjo Photography)
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Education is a complex-complicated and urgent-fundamental world. It is complex- complicated due to the fact that there are many mutual elements influence on it. It is urgent-fundamental since it is the key for the progress of civilization.

Amidst political tensions of the 2019 presidential election, a viral video that shows the disgraceful action of a student in PGRI Junior High School of Wringinanom Gresik to his teacher, Nur Kalim (2/2/2019), has surprised us. In March 2019, NTT saw a viral video of a parent is cuting a teacher’s hair as the teachear has cut his son’s hair in an Elementary School in Maumere, Flores (1/3/2019). These similar cases have recurred many times in our society. Teachers use corporal punishments such as beating the students and some sexual harassments. The students also beat their teachers back. As a consequence, teachers are sometimes reported to the police by student parents.

Was it a Pity? Of couse! Did we get angry? Yes! However, these impressions do not necessarily solve the problem. It needs more seriously solutions. Reviewing the dynamics of our education system is thus needed.

Recently, a ‘Portrait of Education’ which compares education system in Europe and Indonesia was circulating widely in Indonesia. In Europe, self-management has been taught at Kindergartens, environmental exploration at Elementary Schools, discovering and developing passion or talent at Junior High Schools, designing future careers at Senior High Schools, and building and ripen-self-core skills at Universities. In Indonesia, however, from the Kindergartens to Universities, education is merely focusing on learning and examinations.

In regard to this, I personally do not feel inferior. My pride as a citizen of the Republic of Indonesia is far stronger than all kinds of analysis which always put Indonesia in a low position. However, the love of the country must not blind our heart and common sense. We must be realistic in judging the reality.

Regarding the dynamics of education, we need to seriously review it. Some questions can be asked. Is our curriculum right? Is the involvement of all stakeholers proportional? Are our teachers prosperous? Do our teachers have a solid pedagogical base? Has the parentss role in education be maximized? Has the function of religious leaders been running properly? Have a community leaders and the community itself helped to create a conducive climate in our education system? Have our children equipped with values ​​and morality from their family?

These questions are, of course, complicated. However, they must be answered, because education is not merely a government’s task. Education is our shared duties.

In this case, the project was undertaken by John Holt (1923-1985) in the USA and Aristotle’s reflection could be taken into consideration. Holt was disappointed as he could not carry out reforms and improvements in public schools in the USA. For him, the education system at that time urged children to learn because of fear. Children could not be forced, but be allowed to learn what they need and like. Holt offered Home Education as childrens houses are the best place to learn and study.

However, long before Holt, Aristotle had distinguished three kinds of sciences. In his letter sent to me, a colleague of mine who is also a Catholic priest, Silvester Ule, who is now working in Kongo-Africa, explains this reflection of Aristotle.

First, productive science is dealing with producing goods or producing something, developing or improving the material world, or advancing civilization. This science is related to the technology (techne). Second, practical science is dealing with concrete actions where people must practice certain ideals in concrete actions. Economics, politics, and rhetorics are some examples that Aristotle meant by this sciences model. Third, theoretical science is not intended in modern theory meaning, but as a contemplative activity to seek the truth. In this case, there are, of course, practical effects, but more as a way of life, not as a technique such as philosophy, theology, psychology, and mathematics. At the end of the letter, my senior dreams of our education system which is able to shape us into a holistic human being. We can be busy with technical tasks, but don’t lose the meaning of life. We can just think of and fight for the truth, but do not forget to make it happens in our daily life.

For student who fights, throws away textbooks, holds the head, pushes, and grips the collar of Nur Kalim’s shirt, we can test to what extent the Home Education is effective in the student’s family. Do parents give up because they believe that the intellectual life of this nation is the sole duty of the state through its educators? At Nur Kalims case, we can check whether the education system is real through our curriculum as it fails to shape our children into holistic humans? As a response to the viral videos, Muhadjir Effendy, our Minister of Education and Culture, argues that corporal punishment to students should not rob their future and that the teachers must be introspective, we may doubt at whether the responsibility of the State is only just doing that.

The European education system may be too ideal for us to imitate. The Europeans are not suddenly perfect because of its education system. Ki Hadjar Dewantara’s messages may thus become a whip that stimulates our enthusiasm in reviewing and improving the dynamics of our education: “Children live and grow according to their own nature. Education can only treat and guide the growth of that nature” and “Everyone becomes a teacher, every home becomes a school”.

Let’s fix it together and Happy National Education Day 2019! ***

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-Reinard L. Meo

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