Intangible Confession (An Indirect Response)


Longer hours at school? Is that really the case? Or is that really a solution? Or is that the priority? Or is that necessarily implemented? From which perspective we view this idea/concept? What can we learn from other countries that have implemented it and failed? What can we learn from other countries that have implemented it and succeed? What are the short term implications to this? What are the long-term implications to this? Have we done needs-assessment for it before putting it into a nationwide-policy? Are there any hidden agenda that might possibly come along with it? Is there any risk-management for such concept when implemented into an action? What triggers this concept/idea at this particular of time? Any underpinning factors/consideration for it to be approved/welcomed? Do we (Indonesian citizen) have a say/voice in it?

Nah, setelah itu, baru dimulailah merespon hal tersebut. Setuju-Tidak setuju dan Positif-Negatifnya responses yang muncul tergantung dari mana point of view utk menyikapinya, I think. I believe that wacana itu muncul atas maksud dan niat baik, that’s all I want to keep hanging onto.

Belum, saya belum mau memutuskan apakah setuju atau tidak setuju; positif atau negative terhadap wacana ini karena well-oh-well, guess what? It takes time to finally come into suitable answer/decision!

Sementara ini, sebagai respon atas wacana ini, biarlah saya tak sharing “secara ndak langsung” hal-hal yang saya rasa “bersinggungan” dengan wacana ini (ndak langsung lho ya).

To me, there are always pros and cons. There are always weaknesses and strengths. There are always changes. What remains intact is wise-choice/option; what is the most suitable of all. Not the best (to whom?). Not the smartest (to whom?). Not the strongest (to whom?). Not the highest (to whom?). Not the most expensive (to whom?). Not the most sophisticated (to whom?). Not perfection (to whom?). Not the longest (to whom?; ehm, if you know what I mean).

To me, the word suitable has a sense of most-contented fulfillment of success and happiness with just the right amount of self-determination and passion (that might be very subjective and has variety of standards).

When it comes to education. It has a slightly different continuum. Education from the perspective of the nation. Education from the perspective of the community/society. Education from the perspective of the family. And education from the perspective of the individual. Every perspective has different set of goals, objectives, agenda, standards, to the question: “What is the meaning of “your” education?” The word “your” refers to each layer of perspective: the nation, community/society, family, and individual. Regardless of the differences in scope, each and every layer has its own implication on one and another, and nation, of course, has the highest authority and power over the rest (I am talking about policy, politics, and stuff). Kuncinya: harus “saling” mengerti dan memahami, that’s it. Pertanyaannya: Apa bisa begitu? Well, saya aja belum bisa “nemu” jawabannya.

It is no doubt that there will be competition, comparison, standards of achievements, rewards, and punishments in school but how far would it take in education? How wise a line should be drawn between school and education? How far the role of nation, society, family, and individual in each of the dimension (school and education)? Have we, Indonesian, distinguish that yet? Are we there yet? Or are we still looking for what’s suitable in our own context? How long would it take to finally be “content” in our own context?

Siapa yang ndak mau/bangga kalau anaknya pinter?

Siapa yang ndak mau/bangga kalau anaknya sukses?


Have we asked them (anaknya), how happy they feel about it in the process?

(pasti semua orang tua pengennya ya anaknya pinter, sukses, dan bahagia, betul?)

Jika nanti tiba saatnya si anak jadi dewasa dan jadi orang tua, will they “repeat” after what they parents had taught them or will they have a different way of “teaching” their kids a lesson?

My mother has never, I repeat, never forces or pushes me into achieving greatness, either in my school or in my education. She shows me the concept the greatness and provides several options on how to achieve it secara sederhana, bahagia, jujur, dan lurus. She simply trusts me and that in itself is a lesson: I do not want to destroy my mother’s trust in any way. So I have learnt a lot about trust through her actions for trusting me. I also never feel “pressed” into a certain kind of “framework”. It is from her method that I have learnt to treat options in my life equally valuable because every option has its own silver linings as well as consequences.

I also have learnt to achieve what so-called greatness in my own perspective from my society, environment and side effects of things such as media. Gampangnya, mama saya ndak pernah nyuruh saya ranking satu. Ndak pernah maksa saya dapet NEM (jaman itu) tertinggi. Ndak pernah menghukum saya kalau saya dapet nilai jelek atau membandingkan nilai atau kemampuan saya dengan temen2 saya (in fact, saya malah sering merasa dihukum dengan silent-treatment nya mama saya, which she does kalo pas saya udah kebangetan keras kepala dan ngeyelnya. Setelah itu, mama saya pasti akan selalu ngejelasin secara dewasa alasan mengapa silent treatment itu diberlakukan).

Nah, saya malah belajarnya dari temen-temen lain yang sering disuruh dapet ranking satu, distandardisasi harus dapet NEM tinggi, dihukum klo dapet nilai jelek. When they did achieve greatness: ranking 1, NEM tertinggi, atau ndak dihukum karena sudah dapet 9 atau 10, I have learnt to distinguish every responses from their parents, family, friends, society, and so on. Then, I started to develop a kind of self-determined mechanism where I felt so worried to make my mother felt disappointed at me at school (around 4th grade of elementary school). As a result, I pushed myself so hard for earning recognition, winning competition, getting acknowledgment, getting rewards and praised for first ranking, highest score, etc. For a while, I never realized I pushed so hard, I over-achieved, I forced myself too much. I began to feel numb for recognition, winning competition, getting acknowledgment, rewards, first ranking, or highest score. I even felt numb to any compliments because I somehow felt that they were so very superficially given to me.

I felt something was still missing. Was I not grateful? Maybe, but I was looking for something intangible that feels tangible and couldn’t fulfill it with all of those recognition, winning competition, acknowledgment, rewards, first ranking, highest score, etc. I had not realized that I was a “mess” inside and began to develop OCD, acute insomnia, being a workaholic, being ridiculously perfectionist, and being intolerable to small messiness, failures, and mistakes. All of those feelings when you need to know the answer to every question right away and feel unbelievably stupid for not knowing the answer. Everything had to be perfect, arranged in order, classified like a box, and wrapped in a fancy lace (at that time). That’s why I got accustomed to think that I need to focus quickly on how to find solution to any problem that I have instead of expressing any emotional effects. Ditambah lagi dengan what society called me as “a broken-home” girl. Lengkap sudah trigger untuk defense mechanism itu bekerja. This happened until when I completed my master degree in USA and got back to work. It was all there. TK, SD, SMP, SMA, Undergraduate, Graduate, and Full-time employment did not seem “enough” or “fulfilled”. Was I not grateful? Maybe, but I was still finding that tangible thing I felt missing in my school and my education.

Something changed when I got married and something is definitely changing while I am currently undertaking my postgraduate study. Something in the way I look at how my schooling and education throughout years of my life. Although I am grateful for all of the teachers, lecturers, school environment and education process I had gotten a chance to meet, experience, and learn from, the more aging I am now, the more I feel that I actually learn nothing, feel small and clueless; somehow, I feel there so much more I haven’t learnt about. Then, I have been rigorously questioning myself all over again: what is the point of your study? What is the point of your school? What is the point of your education? What makes it worthwhile, meaningful, and suitable for my own version of success, happiness, and passion? I think I will still be learning to figure out the answers to these questions I’ve been asking myself to.

Yes, getting married changes my perspectives of things. Undertaking postgraduate study also changes my perspectives of things. But the most impact comes from how my mother has taught me through her not-comparing-and-forcing-things-upon-me endeavor. There are no good and bad changes, positive or negative changes to me. There are only changes and my good and bad attitude and perspectives or positive and negative attitudes and perspectives towards them. Changes are pure while attitudes and perspectives are not. The way I see my current schooling and education is all about managing my attitudes and perspectives towards myself, others, and the world in a way that it is suitable for me while contributing to others’ harmony of nature (instead of disrupting it). There have been “leftover’ perspectives and attitudes that I still need to suitably ‘situate’ and ‘adjust’ to my current state of being. These leftovers are the products from my old-school and education that I don’t see fit anymore and need some proper adjustments.

Do I still have manners of OCD, acute insomnia, workaholic, ridiculously perfectionist, and intolerable to small messiness, failures, and mistakes? Well, I do sometimes; a very little though. I have learnt to cope with those quite nicely, walaupun masih ndak bisa move on dari being a night owl or night person. They cannot disappear completely. It takes another dimension of life to make them completely gone, I guess hehe. Anyway, I have fought my portion of battles and learnt my lessons. The only difference now is I start to develop a changed-mechanism; different priorities, different views and perspectives, and different attitudes: angles that I didn’t see, corners that I didn’t bother to touch, lines that I didn’t think exist, and layers that I didn’t think to discover.

Saya sekolah lagi itu sebenarnya karena simply makin kesini-nya makin merasa masih ‘ndak tahu banyak’. Saya pengen tahu lebih banyak supaya saya bisa lebih “mampu” menghadapi flow and form of ‘changes’ yang ada sekarang ini dan yang akan datang (kalau masih dikasih umur), as simple as that. “Mampu” disini adalah overcoming changes with more good/positive attitudes and perspectives. Buat saya pribadi, a journey to obtain good/positive attitudes is to test it with terus belajar, terus studi, terus sekolah semampu saya; formal dan informal, yang dua-duanya penting untuk saya. Flow and form of “Changes” itu beberapa diantaranya ya menikah, punya anak, dan menua.

“Lha terus nanti pendidikan anak kamu gimana? Sekolahnya mau dimana? Pasti pengennya bisa sekolah setinggi kamu dong ya” Nah, pertanyaan ini sering saya dapet, sesering saya ditanya “kapan punya anak”, hehe. Sering saya mbatin, kadang2 Indonesian society itu unik: terlalu visioner. Bagus sih kalau visioner tapi kalau terlalu visioner ya saya bingung njawabnya. Lha wong anak aja belum ada, gimana saya bisa sharing pengalaman ‘parenting’ utk nyekolahin apalagi ngedukasi anak, coba? Hehe. The fact is, I may or may not have kids, only Allah SWT knows. Until then, my current state of being is simply a wife and a student, that’s all. Itu saja sudah memiliki “dinamika” tersendiri. Maybe, just maybe, having kids will bring out ‘different’ dynamic in which I have not yet experience; maybe one day. So for now, judulnya grateful, grateful, and grateful, that’s it. Karena saya belum jadi a parent, saya ndak mau sok-sok an parenting, bisa kepleset nanti hehe. Yang saya share ini diambil dari perpective saya yang sekarang udah “feel like a parent to the younger version of me”. Gampangnya, ya semacam scribbles dari versi tua nya saya “ngomong” ke versi muda-nya saya dulu. Tulisan ini banyak disclaimernya dan banyak limitasinya seperti pada research limitation (halah) yang mungkin bisa atau mungkin juga ndak bisa digeneralisasi di semua konteks. Ini cuma “nyampah” setelah bolak-balik terekspose sama opini sana, sini, dan situ tentang wacana (ini baru wacana loh ya) longer hours at school yang kemudian membawa rasa penasaran saya “googling” tentang countries with best education systems. Yang dimaksud “best” disini ya menurut standard beberapa research organizations and institutions yang kemudian merangkum review dan reportnya ke dalam sistem rankingisasi (halah). But then again, the most important question is that how will Indonesia respond to this in a way that is not forceful (atau force majeure), dehumanizing, de-characterizing, and devaluing Indonesian culture, wisdom, and strengths sebagai bangsa yang luhur dan berbudaya?

Pintar-sukses-(apalagi kaya) bijaksananya dibarengi dengan bahagia, rendah hati (humble), toleransi, dan kebersamaan untuk berbagi.

Karena itulah, menurut saya (lah ini menurut saya aja lho), dua pertanyaan yang penting untuk dijawab sebenarnya adalah:

  1. How would you choose to experience your schooling?
  2. What’s the point of your schooling being part of your education?

*To be continued

Keterangan ilustrasi: left (tas kesayangan jaman TK, selain tas koper hello Kitty ijo yang udah dihempas banjir bandang). Right (saya jaman TK dan papan tulis kapur pertama saya).


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