Sunday, February 14, 2010

Indonesia, Indonesia - Tomorrow's leaders?

Because of my teachers, we can be smart

Right next to my apartment building is a High School. Every Monday morning I wake up from their weekly opening's ceremony on their main square. The kids all stand in their uniforms (often in the blazing sun) and recite the five basic ideological principles of the Indonesian state, the Pancasila. Usually the students are spoken to firmly and sometimes they're even scolded publicly by the teachers ("these two in the front here still have very messy hair and they will be punished accordingly later"). The teachers like to use a megaphone and preach about how the students should work harder to beat the Malaysians and the Chinese, how they cannot bring their cellphones to class and how they should not curse at school (see video).

"Often the teachers hear words that are not very nice to hear and which should not be used by students and which very easily come out of your mouths which means that these words are not uncommon to be used"

Every week I wonder what will become of these kids. Will they ever learn to use their minds freely, creatively and independently? How can they help this country forward if they were raised reciting texts and being spoken to by teachers in a demeaning way? Just recently the first two parts of a very popular novel tetralogy were made into movies; Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops) and Sang Pemimpi (The dreamer). The story is very much about education and how good teachers can bring out the best in almost anyone. The movies are box office hits and I can only hope there will be a lasting impact.

Trailer of Laskar Pelangi, the film directed by Riri Reza

1 comment:

Tommy said...

Good post on an important topic. Seth Godin also talks about how school produces compliant people instead of cultivating critical thinking : check

It is not only a problem in Indonesia, even though it seems the teaching culture is really old-school (!) there: learning rote facts and repeating is worth zero in a world where everyone has access to Google, Wikipedia and co.

Concerning the teacher demeaning behaviors, it was also the case in Europe in the last century: at the time, teachers were the knowledge guardians and were deeply respected, so they could use whatever means they wanted to teach their class. In a way it is also sad that the softening of teaching methods weakened the respect people have for teachers in our societies.

So, are there any attempts by NGOs or Indonesian organizations trying to change that?