No More English?

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So the government wants to scrap English from the elementary education. Good idea? Bad idea?

Nowadays, everywhere I go, there will always be families that communicate in English (or Chinese, but that’s rarer). Yes, they’re fluent; yes, they know their English; yes, they’re communicating in full English all right (and sorry to say, most of my students don’t.)

At the same time, there’s also that unease of the disappearing of their supposed-to-be Mother Tongue… as well as the notion that “Bahasa Indonesia is not needed.” It is also a fact that more and more of our words in Bahasa Indonesia are being replaced by foreign words.

Why do we expect the young generation to learn English at the first place?

Yes, English is a language that everyone uses today. As lingua franca, English becomes the bridge for us to communicate from people across the globe. It’s significant now, and I’d expect it to be even more in these children’s future.

People may argue that polyglot is better in cognition and creativity—but they who study multiple languages are more open. Language is, after all, a part of culture, and being exposed to different ones lets the learner to experience the culture as well.

There’s also the fact (assumption?) that children with their natural curiosity are natural learners–they can readily absorb information and this would perhaps be the best way to perfect that native-like pronunciation.

But at the end, do they answer the question? I don’t think so—not from the courses I’ve been seeing. Instead of using language as a medium to communicate, there’s an overt focus on structure—which may not be as important for young children.

Why do we expect the children to learn English? Yes, we want to prepare them for a global world. However, there are better ways to answer this expectation.

While I do think that today’s children are faced with higher expectations, I don’t think that scrapping English is the answer to it. (But hey, I lived through all those, so did my colleagues and my parents). What we need right now is a reformation of the education system—not another addition-and-deletion of subjects.

Let me end this by sharing a disappointment from a sad parent whose child cannot name a rabbit in her mother tongue. And the parent is teaching Bahasa Indonesia. I won’t blame anyone, but something needs to be done about this phenomena.

the Dying Art of Queuing

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I have a confession: I hate public places.

Once a friend said that I hibernate on holidays; but after a long thought, I have to agree with to some degree–because I don’t go out often. Probably it’s agoraphobia speaking, but I do hate being around people. Especially a lot of people.

Unfortunately, there are some inevitable in this life. Commuting used to be one (now I prefer driving, however tiring it is). Cafeteria is another.

Now, let me explain: I don’t buy lunch that often at work. The perk of working in educational institute is that there’s always something that kills your appetite to work on. However, when I do, I always have this misfortune of buying lunch during students’ break. Blame it on my lack of sense in time, but that’s what happen.

Not that I have problems with students (or being around them), but somewhat there’s this acute feeling that our young generations emit: they are blind. What usually happen is that they push, shove, yell, and forget that there are other people around them.

Call me exaggerating, but unfortunately this happens just about everywhere, and not just to the young generations: marketplace, department store, schools, on the road and who knows? Our governmental offices?

Of course, a lot of times we’re being extremely polite about it: asking our friend who’s next in line to get our things, or having dear husband to wait on the line while we run around to get the last minute groceries, or *coughs* asking the higher ups to push our proposal to the boss and ignore the others on the line *coughs* instead of just shoving into the line.

Is this my answer to avoiding public places? Actually no; I still hyperventilate around the crowd, queuing or not, sadly. But when it comes to the line, I just have to bear with it (persevering!). My mother always scold me for being slow whenever someone shoves into the line, just in front of me.

I think if that happens again, I will reply (loudly), “It’s not slow–I’m just preserving the dying art of queuing.”

Question on Number

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This has been lying dormant in my Evernote since the Stone Age. And apparently I’m too lazy to revise it. So there goes the excuse for any incoherence of this poor writing. /hides self under the piles of paperwork

We live in an academic environment that is very number-oriented. At the same time, we also live in an academic environment that is very diverse in standard. Hence there’s an implied message here: a number can have different meanings; different rewards; different level.

Let me illustrate: a high school which adopts the international curriculum into their curriculum certainly has more expectations for their students compared to another high school which only uses the national standard. Consequently, students from the first school may have more demanding assessments and probably more deviation in grades compared to students from the latter school.

But what do they have at the end? Numbers; with no–let me emphasize: NONE–definite, clear and comprehensive description of what these numbers mean.

And what will the students get after they finish their education? Whether we all like it or not, the university all around the world also looks more on the students’ grades over the actual performance. Of course, the lack of description of their grades (or worse: Nationally Standardised Evaluation) means that some unfairness will eventually come to play into the academic selection and students with average scores (whatever that could mean) will–shall we say–lose their chances over those with high scores.

We should come and ask ourselves again: “Are they really?”

What am I proposing then?

Here’s what I see when I look at my students when they graduate: a piece of paper with statement that they have completed their study in the high school with the final score.

Here’s what I have when I graduated from my high school: a portfolio folder of pages which 1) states that I completed my high school study; 2) summarizes my academic performance; 3) describes my performance for every subject I took with the score, performance rating and descriptions of each rating.
In other words I can reflect on those subject pages and see my own performance according to the set standard, not what everyone (assumes to) know, not what is generally accepted, not what my teacher nor myself set.

Why can’t we have that? Like, specific point-per-point? And have them on every student’s report with a clear statement that while we’re exhausting everyone’s energy to write and read it, it’s actually necessary because, hey! Apparently not every 9 means the same. :\

my view on Freedom

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One of the things I’ve been struggling with throughout my almost two years working is exercising restriction against “freedom.” Indeed, being free is our preferred state of being–after all, who likes to be controlled all the time? However I’ve been contemplating with the concept that I have to ask: is being able to do whatever we want considered as freedom?

The most frightening part in being able to do whatever I want is the lack of control. Yes, being able to do whatever we want is fun, but the consequence from it is also fun: tonnes of paperwork, abandoned assignment, even–well–zero mark on the test paper for deciding that drawing is more fun than doing those Trigs problems.

So what is freedom? Of course, it’ll be fun if freedom comes without consequences. If students can have the freedom to choose, no one will go to school and they will be millionaires at their productive age and be well off at old age. But life does not work that way, even in the most unfair situation: being well off at the start does not necessarily mean being able to do whatever that we want and still be well off at the end.

I believe that freedom is being able to do what we want and be ready with the consequences. I feel more confident to submit myself under someone’s authority, to obey rules and orders, to do the given tasks as asked. Yes, it’s frustrating and tiring and sometimes stupid; but at the same time it’s easier to deal with the result at the end because… I’m just doing my job.

I feel more confident to do something creative according to the norms and principles that govern the society. Yes, it’s sometimes old-fashioned and even contradictory to what we want; but at the same time it gives me the security and sense of belonging as well as showing my respect to those around me.

I feel more confident to do what I want and be ready with the consequences. Yes, I ignore my work sometimes and have to lose nights of sleep because I have to keep up with the work flow and time; but hey, I am ready for not sleeping for a few days–even if I can be cranky by the evening of the day after. So what is in it to blame when I am ready to accept its outcome?

What is freedom? Thinking of it as someone my age (sob!) is tough indeed, as well as practising freedom on others. I’m still weak against those puppy eyes, but exercising power to those who still have to learn surely worth something. Yes, it is tough and all, but I guess it’s a life lesson: life is a matter of cause-and-effect. How you deal with your self-induced effects should reflect on your maturity level; just be aware that the safety net won’t hold you forever. (^_−)☆

I wish I know what the hell I’m talking about. orz
*pulls out The GUNDAM for the fun of it* /Japan geek exits

Versus Plagiarism

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I hate people who plagiarize.

…Oh, wait; let me rephrase: I wish people who plagiarize the worst.

Call me cruel, spiteful, or even demon-teacher. Sorry; I can handle illegible handwriting (with too much hair-pulling along the way) or badly constructed sentences/paragraphs (with an aspirin on the side). I can take irrelevant responses (and read it with too many facepalms) or ideas spiraling into the drain of doom (with red marker ready to paint all over the black and white).

But cheating? Nope. Plagiarism? Zilch.

And believe me if I say that should I have my way, I will kick any plagiarizing student out of my class until the doomsday (and perhaps beyond, God help me).


So what is plagiarism anyway? Coming from the verb to plagiarize, Oxford defines it as the act of taking someone’s work or idea and using it as one’s own; while Merriam-Webster’s defines it as the act of stealing someone’s idea and passing it off as one’s own, or using one’s ideas without credit.

So what’s the big deal?

  • I saw this on TV last night and I thought it was good but I changed some bits and adapted it with my own idea. So it’s not really taking the idea as my own!
  • I forgot that I read it before! I just thought it was an interesting idea during brainstorm and didn’t realize that it was someone’s idea!
  • I didn’t know that someone else did something like this! Maybe it’s the other person who plagiarized me.
  • …Whoops! So it’s not allowed?

I guess having a clear perspective helps: stealing is stealing. Even though culture-wise it can be a nightmare trying to convince people that something as intangible as an idea can be stolen. Then again, imagine passing over an idea that turned out to be the invention of the century… by someone else.

Yes, I did write a fanfiction back when I was in school and passed it to my English teacher for a writing assignment. Apparently, my teacher did not know anything about it, but I actually felt worse when he gave praise over my work. And the experience is one of the things I wished I’d never done in life.

We all heard the consequences of plagiarism, from the score 0 (zero) to getting one’s self kicked out from a course and even losing a job and forever having one’s name tainted. I thought I’m being kind if I give my students zero (with a pokerface) personally for plagiarizing/cheating.

Hence it becomes an utmost importance of being aware of this issue.


But then hearing the issue coming from a teacher who assesses students’ work without realizing it was a big question mark on my side. Yes, I realize that none of us know too much of those random information. Especially with everything readily available for anyone to access, it’s just a nightmare trying to identify which one is original and which is a plagiarized work.

So how can teachers raise their awareness?

I don’t know; personally I read all sorts of random information on a whim (which happens much too often, shuddup). And while I can’t tell everyone to follow my example (because it’s kind of a waste of time truthfully), I guess as teachers we really have to be sensitive of our students’ work still.

Particularly when it comes to a “creative” work.

And believe me when I say that I-don’t-know. Have a very broad knowledge just about everything? Is it a good idea? Or just be ignorant of our students’ work, as long as they’re doing all the work?


But everything else aside, something has to be done about letting students copying theories for their research paper. Or posting as one of the references.

And please don’t get me started on Wikipedia.

I used to dream…

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…of being a stewardess. Except that soon after it was dashed by the many airplane crashes publicized by the newspaper (and now that I think about it, I don’t even think I have that patience to take care of the annoying passengers–and it doesn’t worth the amount of traveling I might get).

And then at one point I dreamt of being a journalist, specifically a war journalist. But on hindsight, it’s largely affected by my teacher and my suicidal mind. But I still want to be a journalist. …Well, maybe an Editor; I think I will give up hunting for news after a while. Eheh

Once I thought I wanted to be an astronaut. Shush! It doesn’t work out because I was slapped by the reality that I’m not physically built for that (nor I really tried to be one, LOL.) At one point, it somewhat shifted that I want to be a scientist. I kinda regretted the decision of not persevering. But that still does not stop me from looking for a scholarship program to study Physics or Astronomy again.

When I told everyone that I wanted to be a teacher, I got a pretty mixed reaction. In general, they all stared at me as if I’ve grown another head (even people who interviewed me did feel the same). Of course, from my family side they were thinking that someone finally continued my grandparents’ teaching spirit.
I think.

Now that I am a teacher (struggling and surviving, somewhere in-between?), I often look back and thought about Steve Jobs’ words on connecting the dots and to no one’s surprise, they’re just collection of random dots. Yes, I dream a lot–and it didn’t stop me from following my dream, however whimsical it sounds (except the first one, but that’s a total exception). I still want to do more, even if I’ve found what I want to do (or so I want to think).

I once dreamt of being a sky photographer. Except that I don’t have that aesthetic soul in me. But now that I thought about what I want to do, I’ll give it a shot.

I still dream of being an author. Strangely enough, the past few weeks I’ve been writing something that I want to write more than I did for the last three years at least. In fact, ideas just keep sprouting from everywhere that I’m actually overwhelmed with those. Will they work out?

I dream that I could form my thoughts into realization. But as clouds in the sky, sometimes they’ll disperse in a blink of eye into another form if not nothing. Who knows? For me, I think I’ll keep dreaming and work them out into something.

We will see.

Creative on the Run

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What is creative and how can I be one?

That’s a really difficult question in this global world, is it not? I was browsing through a bookstore yesterday and found quite a number of books on creativity. It’s not only in one bookstore; from one bookstore to another, it’s one topic that crowds the self-enrichment shelf.

And it’s not just exclusively at that. There’s always its variety in the management and leadership sections, hidden ever so subtly in the craft and recipes corners, even popping in now and then in the economy shelves. What does it mean for us? The old, conventional ways are no longer acceptable? What else is new?

So back to the question, what is creative and how can I be creative?

The Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary defines creative [adj] as “(1) involving the use of skill and the imagination to produce something new […]” (emphasize mine). Hmm, tricky definition, no? The word skill [n] itself means “(1) the ability to do something well,” whereas the word imagination [n] means “(1) the ability to create pictures in your mind […],” and “(3) the ability to have new and exciting ideas.” Well, see if clears up some things, but before rephrasing creative, let’s define new [adj]: “(1) not existing before,” “(5) different from the previous one,” and “(6) already existing but nor seen, experienced, etc. before; not familiar.”

So let’s try and rephrase the definition of creative (and let’s use list this time because I know paragraph hurts everyone’s eyes):

  • it takes effort to do something in a good way
  • it asks someone to realize what’s only in their mind
  • it demands someone to create something that is never there or different, or at least something that others never experienced before

That sounds mouthful, is it not?

In my short year as a full time teacher, I feel rather trampled and everything with all my ideals crushed under the heels of unfamiliar curriculum and school system and queer colleagues. At the same time, I am challenged to keep trying to give my best and find interesting ways to wake my students (if the higher-ups didn’t crush it beforehand, or whenever I don’t lament on teaching English rather than Maths).

And it all departs from imagination (in which I picture myself doing all sort of crazy stuff in the class), before everything gets trimmed down to what is do-able and what’s not, in hope that everyone will experience something different.

Have I gone creative enough? Even if I just redo something I did with a slight change? Even if I just follow the new, sometimes dubious methodology? I’m afraid I don’t have answer to that.

Of course, it doesn’t always work. In fact, most (if not all) of them don’t. At times it discouraged me to the point I want to jump from the window, at other times it left me thoughtful with more questions (most often would be, “Hmm, what should I do to make it work next time?”). And with the wide range of personalities I’m teaching in different class, it’s always a challenge to make out different ways for everyone.

I don’t know; but rather than giving up, I guess I just have to keep up with the imagination and effort to make things work. 🙂

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