Study Hard or Play Hard?

0 Comments 07 October 2003 / by

on one of our chatting session recently, one of’s regular who happens to be my junior in high school *hi kiddo*, asked me why i chose to get an education in the US and not in my own country. she is 3 years my junior so practically, we were never in the same school at the same time. when she asked this question, i knew what my answer would be although i still find a bit of a hard time to answer it. i knew i wanted to come to the US for my study because i wanted to get a better education. my reasoning was that i would be able to taste foreign education from the country that has one of the best education program. another big reason was that i want to be independent, although not yet financially. i have had been independent for almost two years when i graduated from high school and i want to feel that independence even further, in a foreign country with its foreign language and cultures despite of my mom’s disagreement at the beginning.

the chatting session got me thinking, especially we were looking back about our days when we were still wearing those white & grey uniform. she has her own memories as i have mine. then we talked about our teachers, our school in general, the subjects we studied, and so on and so forth. one thing that i thought as funny now is that i was in science major when i was in high school. i remember my days was filled with numbers, be it in math class, chemistry class or physics class that was regular to my brain in daily basis. my classmates used to joke around having our face so stressed out from those numbers and formulas that by the time we have our break in between classes. i thought i’d be an engineer or a doctor and so on for all of these studies in chemistry and physics.

instead, i took finance in college. totally different than what i have been exposed to while i was in high school. i remember that when i took my first economy class in college, that was actually my first economy class ever in my life. but i managed to do good. so now i’m wondering.. what was the reason i took science major in high school and ended up in finance?? why didn’t i study economy in high school?? or why didn’t even go for engineering in college??

well it’s funny how life takes you, isn’t it? you just can’t really take everything for granted. i’ve always loved chemistry and math and physics.. and i did want to be an engineer before. however.. when i got in college, i thought.. where would i go with my engineering degree?? like many other teenagers in my shoes then *maybe even until now*, i didn’t know what i want to do. all i know i want to make money when i grow up and i want to be financially independent, maybe have my own business someday. so i chose the faster way… to get myself a business degree. do i like it or not? that’s a different story..

but i always wonder… so what those major division in high school are for?? it’s obvious that it doesn’t really help much so they now changed it to a general science (IPA) and general social (IPS) majors 3 years after i graduated. but does that still help??

our society likes to label people, even from the beginning, even here. one kid is considered a ‘good kid’ when s/he finished class with flying colors. then all high hopes are abundant upon him/her. and when one kid always makes trouble, immediately s/he labeled as the ‘trouble kid’. same goes all the way to high school. i remember that despite of my love in chemistry and physics and math, i love studying sociology. but i dare not to choose social major in high school because being in that class means that i’m not smart enough to be in the science major, which of course totally not right!! it’s no longer about a division of major according to what the student likes to be or likes to do, but it’s more of a prestigious and an image of it represents.

“ah gue males masuk fis (IPA) abisan pasti stress.. kasian banget mereka udah belajarnya paling repot, pulang paling lama, istirahat paling terakhir.. bla.. bla.. bla.. “

i totally understand that.. iya, kenapa kita musti pulang telat dan kerja lebih keras?? kenapa yang anak² sos (IPS) bisa nyantai² sekolah?? kok jadinya anak fis sepertinya gak enjoy ama dunia sma ya?? hmm… and mostly those who are considered the ‘trouble kid’ always been placed in those social classes. emangnya karena mereka bandel jadinya mereka gak bisa mikir?? kenapa gak dimotivasi buat belajar instead of getting punishment to stay out of school *suspended* because they were late or make trouble??

ah dunia pendidikan di indonesia memang belom mampu menilai ini semua. wajar saja karena menjadi guru hanya menghasilkan gaji yang tidak dapat memenuhi keluarga, if not hanya pas²an. padahal guru adalah pekerjaan yang paling mulia. in the US, there were always a concerned about overcapacity classes. teachers were expected to have 30-35 students in each class.. and they said that it’s overcrowded!! gimana dengan murid² di indonesia?? i remember i used to be in a classroom with almost 50 students in it. talk about overcrowded then!!

belom lagi situasi di kelas. di indonesia.. semua murid harus patuh kepada guru, and teachers are always right. so no matter what s/he says, you just agree with it. we weren’t taught or at least encouraged, to speak up, ask questions or open a discussion if we thought the teacher’s point didn’t make sense to our young minds. i remember those days when my teacher used to hate me for correcting her pronounciation in english class. she used to yell at me and told me to stand up in front of the class if i keep correcting her. even though i was just asking whether that particular word should be pronounce differently. i’m not saying that my english was good back then *even now.. hehehe* .. but i got the opportunity to take courses outside of school that taught me a better pronounciation than what was taught in class.

in the US, students are encouraged to speak their minds, ask analytical questions, engaged in discussions as part of the learning process. we are encouraged to understand about a subject, not just to memorize the theories and formulas. this way we learn and remember what we were taught about and it stuck with us longer… if not ever. we are required to write research paper in most of the classes in college, some are even with presentations.

despite all of that, i do still believe that indonesian kids are smarter than kids in america. the problem is that indonesian kids didn’t get a better approach on education. i see kids today are more engaged to find out what’s the trend this season than what it translates to the consumer market, etcetera and so on and so forth. peer pressure is higher back home. those who are the popular kids are the ones who enjoy to live their life than stuck in front of the books, at least for the most part. as a young person, we should enjoy our life, responsibly. meaning study hard, play hard.. it shouldn’t be just one or the other.. don’t you agree?? 😀

:: sLesTa

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a worker by choice, a mother and a wife by nature / owner of / co-founder of the urban mama / the urban muslimah | email: slesta[at]slesta[dot]com

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