On a Flawed Indonesian Education System
Every kid was born a scientist. In our early years, we began to wonder everything: why the sky is blue, how a thunder happens, or just a simple question like why apples fall.
We intuitively explore what is going on in the universe around them. Then we entered primary school. By the time we finished high school, there were only a very tiny fraction of young people — who were naturally born scientists — who want to become scientists.
What went wrong?
Many things. It turns out that part of the reason why we lose the quizzing nature is the fear of dealing with lifetime memorization.
“It’s not that our students are stupid. They can memorize these things. They’re so smart they even figured out that all these materials are completely useless. They know that they’re not going to see these things again. They just have to memorize it once in their life then throw away their books. And they’re absolutely right”, said physicist Michio Kaku on a speech weighing in on the impact of flawed educational system.
Instead of dealing with such thing, the Indonesian government removed science and English from early-learning system in its new education curriculum. I really don’t know how to react to this.
Education Minister Muhammad Nuh said that the new curriculum is expected to lead to a better-quality education and progress for future generations of Indonesians.
To compete with global economy we need a global view. And to be able to get that view, we have to understand the global language. And whether you like it or not, English is widely accepted as global language.
If you go to Columbia University, there are about 1,200 Chinese and there are only about 11 Indonesians. If you go to Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford and any Ivy League university, the data won’t differ much. We’re not doing well in globalizing ourselves.
Now let’s set aside English — though it’s immensely important — and go back to science.
From cynical 21st century viewpoint, the government just asked the kids to tweet more, update their Facebook status more frequently, and so much to say about being actively engaged socially — using social media. It’s not that it is bad, but the fact that they’re being active socially without intellectually competitive is a sad outcome to be conceived.
The fact is, we’re already a huge player in social media. Our Twitter users can easily set a new ‘#1 Worldwide Trending Topic” in just few minutes (disclaimer, I’m not proud of it).
If you take a look at most modern nations, they’re really putting preposterous concern on advancement of science and technology. They believe that the advancement on science frontier will reset what it is for a nation to dream about. And sadly our government doesn’t speak the same language, literally and figuratively.
Recent news also stated that, in practice, teacher asked students to come forward and introduce themselves to their friends. They shook hands and introduced each other. And the teacher also asked them to count their fellow classmates. “So in this theme, they learned both math and PKN [citizenship],” she said. “It teaches them how to be brave and creative.”
Some nations memorize the planetary system. Some understand the planetary system. Some even can explain eloquently why Pluto is no longer a planet.
What about our nation? Forget the cosmic expansion and quantum mechanics, we have to shake our friend’s hand first to be brave. What a depressing mental landscape.