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Friday, July 18, 2008

EDUCATIONAL PROBLEMS IN INDONESIA: A CONCERN

Many people think that teaching is a matter of classroom teaching. The term teacher is also often understood within the framework of schooling. Thus teaching connotes schoolteaching and teacher connotes schoolteacher. This is a reduction of the true meaning of teaching, and more importantly, it hurts the process of teaching and learning. In Indonesia, this understanding of teaching is worsened.

Commonly in Indonesia, by their practice, people don’t engage in informal education. Whenever we talk about education, the assumption is always formal education. Consequently, people don’t regard daily engagement with their children or other people to include teaching and learning process. For they think that teaching and learning process only occur within the wall of school-classrooms. Of course, there are many other items to be discussed in understanding what teaching really is, however, if the meaning of teaching is being reduced to refer merely to schoolteaching, then it means neglect of the one most important form of teaching, which is informal.

The neglect of informal education process results in overemphasizing the importance of formal education. The impact is then people think that only formal education is the solution for many societal problems. Therefore, there is an extremely high expectation for formal education. Consequently, many parents don’t even consider engaging with their children at the educational level. Many of them only engage their children in the sense of basic physical needs, or any other needs beside educational needs. This is where education is being hurt the most.

Why? Because, according to educators’ eyes, teaching and learning process occur since the beginning of life. Every act that relates to teaching and learning process poses consequences, regardless the actor is conscious or not. Thus the neglect of informal education has its own consequences. The thing is, the consequence of the neglect of informal education poses as a threat to the entire humanity. Informal education is basic for human life. It is ingrained naturally within the life itself. Even animals engage in this most basic process, although if it is in the most primitive sense. Thus it is not wrong to say that neglecting informal education is betraying our very nature as humans.

It is wise, therefore, to re-emphasize the importance of informal education. This effort requires people to not only change their mind but also their lifestyle. One of the dearest lifestyles of the people in Indonesia, particularly for upper middle young families, is the dependency on nannies to take care their children. What many of these young parents don’t quite grasp is the fact that when they relent their child rearing activities to nannies, they also relent their privilege, or I may say their responsibility and right, to educate their children. Why? Because, especially for children, child rearing ties very closely to informal education.

The question is: “Will you, o parents, relinquish your responsibility and right to educate your children and give it to nannies? Will not your children learn more from their nannies instead of learning from you, o parents? Will it be too much to say that if we continue to do what we are doing we are then raising our next generation according to the image and likeness of nannies? Will we sacrifice our nanny lifestyle and start taking up what is rightfully ours in the first place, the informal education of our children?” It is totally up to you. It is not easy, as we all know, to sacrifice what we have held so comfortably for a long time. However, start thinking: “Aren’t your children worth your sacrifice? Aren’t sacrificing your nanny lifestyle is a small sacrifice compared to the life of your children?

I myself and my wife, based on what is true in the understanding of informal education, have consequently not used nanny to take care of our child. We take care of our child from the start without the help of nanny or maid. We hope that we all may open our mind, for the sake of our children, to start doing what we ought to do for the betterment of our next generation. Shalom.

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