Juli 18, 2013

Sowing the Seeds of Hope From the Classrooms

Published at The Bali Times on 19-25 July 2013

Farel, Juan, Pandya, Amabel, and Tita were still 5-6 years old (July 2013). However, two thumbs should be given for those five students of Kelas Persiapan (Preparation Group) in Mata Air Education Foundation, Yogyakarta. Why? Cause they have learned to share since early childhood.

After following extracurricular English lessons every Friday morning, they ate their lunch. Some brings broccoli, strawberries, pancakes, and a packet of biscuits. Previously, Bunda Siska, their teacher invited all students to pray together in order to give thanks to God for good fortune granted that day.

Next, in order to enjoy better the fine launch of some various flavors, they shared with each other. As the result, all children can eat some fruits, vegetables, and snacks. That togetherness moment was wonderful. Through the simple experience, significant of social life and a sense of solidarity can be felt. Based on the research, at the age of golden years (5-12 years), the learning manners is so important. Therefore, it would become a habit until they grow up.

Moreover, according to Anand Krishna Ph.D., an example of the best education in the world is Finland. There are 4 primary principles, namely Quality, Efficiency, Equality and Internationalization (source: www.edu.fi). In this context, the willingness to share their food with fellow classmates is a concrete practice of compassion and empathy.

In addition, the concept of cura personalist was based on the belief that every child is unique. God is too creative to create two human beings in exactly the same. Therefore, a personalized approach to each individual is significant.

It is the reason in that kindergarten classroom there are only 10 students at maximum. Therefore, the teachers can assist their students well. Moreover, the interaction between the educator and the student is dialogal. For instance, when discussing the subject of the world fauna. The pupils freely propose the animal’s species they want to learn about. Then, the teacher must find the references.

Another uniqueness process of learning lies in the exploration phase. When discussing about the airplanes, it not merely a theory, but they also learn to make some crafts of aircraft miniature. However, no need to buy the new one at the store; they take advantage of recycled papers. Therefore, since early childhood the students were concerned about their nature environment.

Multiple Intelligence

During this digital period there is a myth that smart student is the one who good at arithmetic and mathematics. Later, while in high school/university level, the student must go to science class/faculty. Though, at least there as 7 other intelligences which are not less important. In this context, I agree with the thesis of Prof. Howard Gardner. He explained in detail in the Theory of Multiple Intelligence (1983).

First, visual intelligence. Student can easily imagine various shapes and space in their mind. He/she has a strong imagination. Second, kinesthetic intelligence. Student can easily express feelings or ideas through movement. Generally, he/she has the athletic body as the result of diligently moving and exercising.

Third, musical intelligence. Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Adjie MS, Erwin Gutawa, Djaduk Ferianto, etc.. They are all good at combining various sounds into a beautiful harmony. The students who have this kind of ability fits to be composer, musician and conductor in musical performances.

Fourth, social intelligence (interpersonal). The students have ability to understand the feelings, character, and nature of others person. He/she who has this kind of ability can easily establish relationships with his/her friends. This type of capability is very important for socialization. Fifth, intrapersonal intelligence. The students have ability to adapt with his/herself. He/she is easy to control him/herself. This type tends to be quiet, meditative, reflective, and able talk to the inner self. Usually they prefer to be alone rather than mingle in the group.

Sixth, environmental intelligence (naturalist). The student have the ability to recognize and understand the surrounding environment. He/she have a tendency to love some activities, such as farming, camping, and observing the flora/fauna in the nature. Seventh, existential intelligence. It concerns with the fundamental question of human beings. The students who have this intelligence tend to wonder about his/herself. Before I was born, where was I? What is the purpose of my life? What happens after the death comes? In Javanese tradition, it is called Sangkan Paraning Dumadi.

Observing the intelligence of every student, the teachers/lecturers must explore a variety of those intelligences above. Therefore, the students can apply the appropriate approach in the learning process. As a result, learning becomes easier, more fun, and effective.


A little sharing, I had became a facilitator while some kindergarten students visiting (School of Nature) Angon http://www.angon.org/, Mustokorejo, Sleman, Yogyakarta. One of the most unique agenda was purple yam harvest activity.

Imagine children aged 4-7 years old are getting around a piece of land. They found the sweet potato crop in the garden. Because of the fairly blazing sun shone, they must wear caping to protect the head. They look like a group of young farmers.

In my humble opinion, loving nature should be instilled from the early age. Moreover, it is not only through preaching and theory, but through practice on the field immediately.

The lesson’s theme is about change. Therefore, I described a lung of the purple yam need 4 months (120 days) at the minimum before it can be consumed by the human being. Moreover, there are some phases in the harvest process. First, clean up the area of the garden from the dry leaves and twigs. Second, prepare a small hoe. Third, start digging slowly.

In order to facilitate that process, the children were grouped. Each group was consisted of 4 members so that they learn to work together at the same time. Interestingly, when there is a child who has not got a purple yam, other group members should help him/her. The entire harvest crops were collected in a special bucket. They may bring all purple yams home to be fried or boiled.

At the reflection session, I informed further about the benefit those purple sweet potatoes. Apparently, the crops are cultivated by the upland farmers in the cool air. It can be also made into the ice cream.

Bu Bety Nursahati form Salatiga is the founder. The purple yams are rich of nutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, calories, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and beta carotene. In addition, purple yam ice cream is very natural. Why? Because it does not contain preservatives, so it is safe for the consumption of all children and adults.

According to Hennie Triana Obert – the mother of a daughter who had settled in Germany – the kids really need get this kind of Waldwoche lesson. Wald means “forest”, while Woche is synonymous with the holiday.

In Germany, usually every town has a small park or a protected forest. Every weekend, the kids can spend their time in the outdoors observing animals and a variety of flora. They are also accompanied by competent and dedicated teachers.

Character Based

A father told to Rhenald Kasali about his strange experience. The father had protested the school in the United States. Why? Because the teacher scores the English essay of his children with an E (Excellence) means perfect, great!

His son had just arrived in that land of Uncle Sam. He was just beginning to learn English. “My son’s essay is verbally very limited. I think his writing was bad, the logic is too simple. I asked him to fix it back, but he tends to gave up,” the father said. Then my son submitted the essay to his teacher.

However, instead of given a bad score, the teacher even praised. Interestingly, when he protested to the school, the teacher asked that father, “Sorry Sir where are you from?” “From Indonesia,” the father answered.

The teacher smiled in an angelic way. That meeting become the turning point for the father in educate his son. “I understand,” the teacher replied. “Several times I met the parents of some children studying in Indonesia,” the teacher continued.

The teacher explained the philosophy, “In your country, the teacher is very difficult to rate. However, our educational philosophy here is not to punish, but rather to stimulate students to be advanced. The term is cool: Encouragement!”

“I have 20 years experience of teaching. Your son is special. He just arrived from country abroad which the native language is not English. I can guarantee that is a great work,” the teacher added. From this discussion, the father learned a valuable lesson. People cannot measure the achievements of others in his/her personal size.

In this context, the teachers in America are eager in advancing their students. No wonder in the future, the students can become famous authors, genuine researchers, great novelists, talented musician, etc. Moreover, they can win the Nobel Prize. It is not because they have teachers who are academically smart, but their teacher is very strong in character, the character of a builder, not a destroyer.

We are the educators in Indonesia must learn from the story above. There is no great person was born from the womb of fear. Moreover, the new findings in brain science suggest that the human mind is not in static mood. The brain glands can shrink, in the opposite it can grow, thrive, and bloom.

Last but not least, let’s encourage change, not a threat. Education process must be freed from – borrowing a phrase from Paulo Freire – alienation. It’s the right time to sow the seeds of hope from our classrooms. Happy teaching!

Writer can be contacted via nugroho.angkasa@gmail.com

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