Having glimpse title of an article “Why the Grammar of Schooling Persists by David Tyack & Larry Cuban” questions me why most western people doubt it. I am thinking and contemplating that its system gives more benefits to Indonesia rather than John Dewey’s idea about progressive education. Why I say so?
In my reading, the grammar of schooling offers ideas of ‘graded school’ and ‘Carnegie unit’. The former explains that pupils’ competences were graded by test in order to determine whether they were ready to the higher level or not (Tyack & Cuban, 1995, p.89). Of course, it is burdening concept so forth but my personal experience in junior school level would help to explain why graded school must be persisted. In eleven years past, my economic teacher told us to have self-study for ‘just’ practice test. None realized that it became the ‘real’ regular test until it came. Most of students got lower score than they expected. It was clear that most pupils do not have a responsibility as a scholar i.e. to study. They will study if they face the monthly, mid-term, semester test or national examination. The idea of giving students such testing is to give more pressure to them. Imagine how if the grading system is diminished even vanished from our educational system? Students with lower responsibility will attend the class for nothing. With the system, students will at least witness the others’ passion which yields more benefits such as students’ competition.
Another notion is seen from the teacher’s readiness. It is because Indonesian teachers do not ready to have the new system in which need teachers’ creativity to construct their class. Bjork argues that the political condition of New Order and Javanese tradition of ‘top-down’ approach (2005, p.9) have rooted in their ways of thinking. Even though the dynamic curriculum of School-Based Curriculum (KTSP) which enables teachers to discharge their duties in a predictable fashion and to cope with the everyday tasks (Tyack and Cuban, 1995, p.86) they are still using the old fashion instruction i.e. delivering their lesson, attending staff meetings, and not devoting their non-teaching time to instruction related activities (Bjork, 2005, p.89). It was because teachers were not well-prepared to have a sudden curriculum. They were on their comfort zone in which the past curriculum provided anything for them, but now they are not. I witnessed an aged teacher very convenient implemented the conventional method for her instruction. Students were asked to open particular pages on their textbook, listen to the instruction, and do some practices. On my visit a month ago as a student who conducted an observation, I asked about the way her teaching. She realized that the current curriculum demands more than the conventional teaching style. As I remembered, she argued that she had minimum training hours about approaches, methods, and techniques of conducting an instruction which fitted for her. Moreover, she added that such strategies were often related to ICT where she had big problems to master it.
The latter concept of grammar of schooling is Carnegie unit. This concept details more about standard measurement of time and credit which simply defined as the Carnegie unit (Pritchett in Tyack and Cuban, 1995, p. 92). The Carnegie unit is well-organized concept to be implemented in Indonesia. There is no specific time when it was the first time had been used. However, this concept is fully adopted in the university level until now. The concept of implementing standard measurement of time is simply because the Carnegie unit educates students to be more discipline. With the time allotment, students come on time and do not leave the class before it ended. It then gives positively effects for teacher to engage and attract students on their lesson. I experienced it in the undergraduate study. He was my lecturer, who conducted full and partial attendance system by students’ coming time. I remembered, he said if we enabled to come on time, we got full attendance and if we missed the first fifteen minutes then, we are accounted as partial. He consistently used this military program, just like a magic, it worked. For the credit system, I argue it must be persisted to. I disagree Sheppard’s idea that credits are nothing more than the equivalent of educational ‘coin of realm’ (Hunt, et al, 2000, p.137). Credit point is good system for Indonesian students since it gives more priority to clever students to accelerate themselves by having more credit than others. From grade 1 of elementary level to grade 12 of secondary school, those students sit in the same class with the same knowledge with less clever students without having more chance to develop themselves.
I agree with Bjork’s perspective when he conducted a research in Indonesia that Indonesia and the west have traditionally occupied ‘different conceptual universes’ (2005, p.84). If the US says that grammar of schooling as an old-fashion and conventional system, it does not mean the same for Indonesia. Indeed, the concept of graded school and Carnegie unit are always becoming a win-win solution for the education system in Indonesia at least in the forthcoming years.
Bjork, C. (2005). Indonesian Education: Teachers, Schools, and Central Bureaucracy. NY: Routledge.
Hunt, T.C., et al. 2010. Encyclopedia of Educational Reform and Dissent 1. California: Sage Publications, Inc.
Tyack, D.,& Cuban, L. (1995). Tinkering toward Utopia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.