Kamis, 29 Desember 2011

Language Use and Speaking Strategies

Speakers of English, especially where it a second laguage, will have to be able to speak in a range of different genres and situations, and they will be able to use a range of conversational and conversational strategies. They will also expected to be able to survive in typical functional exchanges, too (Harmer, 2007). Having watched the three video clips of speaking strategies in International English Language Test System (IELTS), I would like to provide my opinions on the topic discussion, the language and learning strategies. This video pictured Ms. Osi, the teacher of the class, gave guidance and treatment to some students who are getting their IELTS speaking test.
From the observation, the class seems normal. In this case, Ms. Osi acted as a observer as participant where her presence was known by the group she was observing (Alwasilah, 2011). The discourse analysis particulary in taking turns was fluent. Teacher talked and students listened, and vice versa. There seemed no significant problems in discussion because the teacher encouraged the students in speaking English. She presented strategies-based instructions, a learner-centered approach to teaching that has two major components: (1) students are explicitly taught how, when, and why strategies can be used to facilitate language learning and language use tasks, and (2) strategies are integrated into everyday class materials, and may be explicitly or implicitly embedded into the language tasks. In other words, strategies-based instruction aims to assist learners in becoming more responsible for their efforts in learning and using the target language. It also aims to assist them in becoming more effective learners by allowing them to individualize the language learning experience.
 However, she applied teacher-centered approach instead of student-centered, which does not allow the students to improve their speaking ability. It was noticed there were some passive students and only several were actively responsed to the teacher’s stimulus. Students were seated individually while for speaking learning, it is in best condition if students are seated in pairwork or groupwork because it dramatically increases the number of talking of opportunities for individual students. Also, it allows teacher time to work with one or two pairs while the other students continue working (Harmer, 2007).
One of the factors that influence language learning is the age factors (Brown, 2007). The age of students is a major factor in teachers’ decisions about how and what to teach (Harmer, 2007). The students observed in the video can be categorized into adult learners. Their characteristics are (1) they can engage with abstract thought, (2) they have a whole range of life experience to draw on, (3) they have expectations about the learning process, and they already have their own set patterns of learning, (4) adults tend to be more disciplined than other age groups, and they are often prepared to struggle on despite boredom, (5) they come into classroom with a rich range of experiences which allow teachers to use a wide range of activities with them, (6) they often have a clear understanding of why they are learning and what they want to get out of it. Here, the teacher understood the age factors. She encouraged their students to use  their own life experience in the learning process, too.
The topic discussion was speaking strategies and learning how to use language. Strategies for language learning and language use have been receiving evergrowing attention in the areas of foreign language teaching and learning (Oxford 1990, Cohen 1990, O'Malley & Chamot 1990, Wenden 1991, Brown 1991, Rubin & Thompson 1994, Mendelsohn 1994, McDonough 1995 in Cohen, A. D. Weaver, S. J. and Li, T.Y. 1996). It is fair to say that language educators in many different contexts have been seeking ways to help students become more successful in their efforts to learn and communicate in foreign languages. A strategy is considered to be "effective" if it provides positive support to the students in their attempts to learn or use the foreign language. Seeing Ms. Osi teaching, she was seen as a great supporter of her students by giving positive feedback and when the students made mistakes, she corrected immediately without embarassing them.
The broad definition of foreign language learning and use strategies consists of the steps or actions selected by learners to improve the learning of a foreign language, the use of a foreign language, or both. Language learning strategies are used with the explicit goal of helping learners improve their knowledge and understanding of a target language. They are the conscious thoughts and behaviors used by students to facilitate language learning tasks and to personalize the language learning process. Language learning strategies have been differentiated into four distinct categories: cognitive, metacognitive, social, and affective (based on Chamot 1987, Oxford 1990). Cognitive strategies usually involve the identification, retention, storage, or retrieval of words, phrases, and other elements of the target language (e.g., using prior knowledge to comprehend new language material, applying grammar rules to a new context, or classifying vocabulary according to topic). Metacognitive strategies deal with pre-planning and self-assessment, on-line planning, monitoring and evaluation, as well as post-evaluation of language learning activities (e.g., previewing the language materials for the day's lesson, organizing one's thoughts before speaking, or reflecting on one's performance). Such strategies allow learners to control the learning process by helping them coordinate their efforts to plan, organize, and evaluate target language performance. Social strategies include the actions that learners select for interacting with other learners, a teacher, or with native speakers (e.g., asking questions for clarification, helping a fellow student complete a task, or cooperating with others). Affective strategies serve to regulate learner motivation, emotions, and attitudes (e.g., strategies for reducing anxiety, for self-encouragement, and for self-reward).
Language use strategies, in turn, include both language performance and communication strategies. Performance strategies include strategies for rehearsing target language structures, such as through form-focused practice. In the case of communication strategies, the focus is on getting a message across in the target language despite gaps in target language knowledge. For example, learners may use a new lexical item to communicate a thought in class. In the case of communication strategies, in contrast to performance strategies, the use of the language material (e.g., a new word) may purposefully be in order to learn it, as well as to communicate a thought. There have been relatively few studies investigating the benefits of providing second language learners with formal training in the applications of strategies for speaking. In one study, O'Malley and Chamot (1990) compared the improvement on certain language tasks for three groups of learners, and related the learners performance to the strategy training they had received. On the speaking task, the group given explicit training in metacognitive, cognitive, and social-affective strategies improved significantly more than the control group
        In conclusion, Ms. Osi has been done a good work as a teacher, motivator, supporter, corrector and she knows her students quite well. However, a further elaboration of teaching speaking strategies may be needed if she wants to continue her teaching on speaking area, particulary on the teaching approach and class management. Knowing the fact that learning strategies have become more and more popular among the scholars nowadays, professionals on speaking specialist are urgently needed to create an effective language learning and speaking strategies.

Alwasilah, A.C. 2011. Pokoknya Kualitatif. Jakarta: PT Dunia Pustaka Jaya.
Brown. H. D. 2007. Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. 5th edition.
         Pearson. Longman ELT
Cohen, A. D. Weaver, S. J. and Li, T.Y. 1996. The Impact of Strategies-based
         Instruction on Speaking A Foreign Language. University of Minessota:
         Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition.
Engleberg, I & Raimes, A. 2004. Pocket Keys for Speakers Lucas, S.E. (2001)
         The Art of Public Speaking (pp. 302-303)
Harmer, J. 2007. The Practice of English Language Teaching. 4th edition.
         Pearson Longman ELT
Nelson, P., Titsworth, S., & Pearson, J. 2007. Public Speaking A Guide for the
        Engaged Communicator (pp. 37, 146-147) UNCG University Speaking  
        Center, 256-1346, speakingcenter.uncg.edu

Senin, 26 Desember 2011

Character-based Education Trend in Indonesia

Character education has been phenomenal in Indonesia these days. This kind of teaching method started to boom quite a long time ago when people in Indonesia especially teachers and parents concern not only about student academic achievement, but also the emotional and religious intelligent. This paper would present the character-based Education Trend in Indonesia. Some of the points that will be reviewed are:
(1) What  is the burning issue trend in designing syllabus or lesson plan in Indonesia?
(2) Is lesson plan necessarily needed? Why and why not? Why is it (un)important?
(3) How to make and use lesson plan in class?
(4) What is the best method of teaching and learning English?
This paper will also provide the answers taken from several source of readings and findings taken from many sources.

Character Education
Character is the way how an individual think and behave which shape his or her trait to cooperate with other people in family circle, society, and country. An individual is considered good in character when he or she is able to make decisions and be responsible for the decisions he or she has made. Character education is one of the aims of national goal in educational aspect. It is said in Pasal 1 UU Sisdiknas 2003 that the national education aims at developing student potential to have intelligence, good character and personalities, and be a real human. In line with this statement, Dr. Martin Luther King, says “intelligence plus character... that is the goal of true education”. In America, this kind of education has been embodied in every subjects taught at school or university.
Chaedar Alwasilah, a professor in University of Education, stated in his article that language describes a nation. It is sad to know character education in Indonesia has not been a good news for us. Many cases have risen on TV about corruptions, misconceptions, criminal, etc. were actually rooted from the failure of character education. The teacher roles as an educator, instructor, and best example are built through the character-based education and this should be embeded in every subject taught at school or university. Furthermore, it is good to know that character education benefits both the teachers and the students. For the teacher, it is a challenge to be a good model or example for the students and the they are expected to initially had it before they transfer the character education through language they use in everyday meetings.

Lesson Plan
Going further about the issue, there are some definitions listed to engage perceptions. The definitions below were taken from Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.
1. Plan. As an intention, a plan is something you have decided to do. While as a method or arrangement, plan is a set of actions for achieving something in the future, especially a set of actions that has been considered carefully and in detail.
2. Lesson. As learning a skill, a lesson is defined as a period of time in which someone is taught a particular skill, for example how to play a musical instrument or drive a car. On the other hand, in school context, a lesson is defined as British English, a period of time in  which school students are taught in a particular subject (= class American English).
3. Syllabus. It is defined as a plan that states exactly what students at a school or college should learn in a particular subject.

The picture below shows the example of lesson plan of character-based education. The yellow column indicates the character that will be transfered into the students. Every subject should have some character education to be transfered as the process of teaching happens. For English subject, the character education will cover: (1) Value pluralism. English is treated as means of communication that is used by many people from different backgrounds. (2) Modest. Many said that to be able to speak English is prestigious. Planting the modesty in every students’ way of thinking will prevent them from showing off. (3) Independent. Nowadays, students is expected to be independent in problem solving in order to meet the demands of the 21st century. (4) Confident. Speaking English teaches the students to be confident since they bring themselves into something new and totally different from their culture background. (5) Cooperative. English as a means of communication helps the students to be able to cooperate with friends, family, dan teachers in discussing issues. (6) Value the social norms. When speaking English, students are acquiring the culture where English was spoken. From this case, students are expected to value the social norms that govern the spoken English.

The picture above shows how a lesson plan should be based on. The lesson plan can also functions as research action. It is a cyclical process started with planning, teaching, and then increasing effectiveness. In planning stage, the teachers are expected to set the goals or the aims that the students are expected to achieve at the end of the course. Additionally, in this stage, teachers have to be able to predict what will happen in class. When it comes into the teaching stage, they need to engage the students into a good teaching and learning atmosphere in order to achieve the goals and aims we have made in planning stage. After a sequence of teachings are done, assessments are needed to examine if the goals and aims are covered when we are teaching. In this stage, the teachers have to be open minded in observing what has happened in class, reflect it, and them omit the negative things and go on with the positive things. The positive ones should be developed more advance for the next lesson plan.
The following diagrams shows the action research: (1) Identify problems or issues for investigation in class. (2) Carry out research which should be done when teaching. It is strongly recommended to make a teaching journal. (3) Formulate action plan for the next meeting in class. (4) Reflect on and evaluate actions happened in class and redo this process until a relatively rigid method of teaching has been reached.

The Planning Paradox

            For years the issue of planning a lesson plan has been widely discussed whether it is necesarry for teaching activities or preparation. The first argument refers to the lesson plan as the guide of teaching. For inexperienced teachers, a plan – a mental structure – ‘might be just the map we need initially’ (Thaine 1996b:3). New teachers need maps to help them through the lanscape. And students, too, like to know what their teacher has in store for them. Evidence of teacher planning helps to ensure their confidence in the person who is teaching them. On the other hand, the second argument refers to Rinvolucri’s concerns about what actually happens in a lesson is the result of an interactive system that is extremely complex. As the lesson progresses, things evolve and develop, depending on what has happened and what is happening minute by minute.

Lesson Plan is (un)important
The question is, is lesson plan necessary? There are two alternatives for the question namely yes and not really. Some teachers need lesson plan because it gives confidence to the teachers on training and who are about to be observed. A detailed plan gives the observer clear evidence of the thinking that has gone into the making of the lesson. Some teachers scribble a few notes down in folders or notebooks and sometimes the notes will be more elaborate than this. At the very last, we should have what has been called ‘a door into and a door out of the lesson’ (Harmer 2005: 169) Where written plans act as a useful record of what we hoped to achieve, and where we amend these records ro say what actually happened, they become effective accounts which can use for action research.
            Jim Scrivener, on the other hand, describes a situation where the teacher has no real idea what he or she is going to do before a lesson starts and where the lesson is created moment by moment with the teacher and the learners working with whatever is happening in the room. He calls this a ‘jungle path’ lesson. Jungle path lesson demands high skill and an ability to react appropriately minute by minute and a succession of jungle path lessons will suggest to the students a degree of carelessness or even negligence – on the part of the unprepared teacher.

Lesson Plan Modification
Although it is a good idea to try to follow the plan that we have made, in normal teaching there are number of reasons why we may need to modify our proposal for action once a lesson is taking place, especially for teachers in training, namely magic moments, sensible diversion, and unforeseen problems.
Magic moments are some of the most affecting moments in language lessons happen when a conversation develops unexpectedly or when a topic produces a level of interest in our students which we had not predicted. This is a moment when students suddenly really want to talk about the topic, or when one of them says something that, even if it falls outside the plan, is so extraordinary, challenging or amusing, that everyone, including ourselves, wants to discuss it or follow it up.
When such magic moments come along, we have to make instant decisions about what to do. We could carry with our planned lesson as if the moment had never occured. Yet that might not only waste a golden opportunity for a real communication, but might also demonstrate to the students that we are not really respecting them and listening to them in the ways we suggested were so important for sucessful rapport. A better course is to recognise the magic moment and see how it can be used, rather than denying it life because it does not fit into our plan. 
Sometimes non-magical things happen which cause us to wonder what to do next. For example, students might start trying to use some new grammar or vocabulary which we had not planned to introduce. Yet this suddenly seems like an ideal moment to do some work on the language which has arisen, and so we take a diversion and teach something we had not intended to teach. This moment is called sensible diversion. The choice is in our hands whether keep going with the lesson plan or keep the discussion with the students.
In normal teaching, however well we plan, unforeseen problems often crop up. Some students may find an activity that we thought interesting incredibly boring; an activity may take more or less time than we anticipated. It is possible that something we thought would be fairly simple for our students turns out to be very difficult. We may have planned an activity based on the number of students we expected to turn up, only to find that some of them are absent. Occasionally we find that students have already come across material on topics we take into class, and our common sense tells us that it would be unwise to carry on. Sometimes the technology we had relied on fails to work properly.

Those are the problems that may arise when we are teaching. It is possible to anticipate potential problems in the class and to plan strategies to deal with them. But however we do this, things will still happen that surprise us. Using a plan means having a constant dialogue between what we intended to do and what is actually happening. It is entirely right and proper to design learning outcomes which we hope our students will achieve.

Pre-Planning and Planning
            Pre-planning stage is where we gather ideas and material and possible starting-off points. For some teachers, this often have little more than a vague idea of how to start a lesson. For teachers who are going to produce a more formal plan, the pre-planning stage is the start of the whole process. The ideas for pre-planning can come from a wide variety of sources for example books, Internet, seminar, discussion, blog, or simply do some experiments by ourselves. For our consideration, our pre-planning ideas are usually based on our knowledge of who we are teaching. We have their personalities as individuals and as a group in our minds. We are conscious of their level and what we think they might be capable of. We have studied the syllabus we are following and what the students are expected to have achieved by the end of the course. For Tessa Woodward, this pre-planning stage is planning itself but for those teachers who are undergoing a formal observation, generalised pre-planning, with or without jotted notes, is not enough. They need to be able to show evidence of following pre-plans through into clear thinking about exactly what they intend their students tp do.
            In the pre-planning phase we have considered a number of different parameters. We are familiar with the syllabus and activities and topics floating around in our heads. A syllabus is the structure that should have been done when teaching. It is usually started with ice breaking and needs some visual aids to gain student attention towards the topic we are going to discuss. An argument from Sbelen’s Weblog, “Format silabus dan RPP pada prinsipnya dapat dikembangkan sendiri oleh guru. Format yang disampaikan BSNP dan Pusat Kurikulum Balitbang Depdiknas pada prinsipnya hanyalah tawaran yang dapat digunakan guru. Dalam pengembangan KTSP, guru diberi otonomi dan kebebasan mengembangkan kurikulum sekolah sendiri, termasuk format silabus dan RPP.  Jika format tersebut Anda rasa kurang cocok, kurang relevan, sebaiknya Anda kembangkan sendiri untuk mendapatkan format yang terbaik.” In other words, syllabus is a must have guide of teaching but it is open to change depending on the class culture.

Syllabus Types
        Over the years materials designers have come up with a variety of different syllabus types. Those are as follows:
1. Grammatical syllabus is list of items, such as present continuous, countable and uncountable nouns, comparative adjectives, etc. But others have grouped their teaching items in sequences of topics (e.g. the weather, sport, the music scene, etc.)
2. Functional syllabus have listed functions, such as apologising, inviting, etc.
3. Situational syllabus have been based around situations, such as at the bank, at the travel agent, at the supermarket, etc.
4. Lexical syllabus is based on assertion that ‘language consists not of tradiotional grammar and vocabulary but often of multi-word prefabricated chunks’. These are the ‘lexical phrases’, ‘lexical chunks’ and other word combinations such as collocations, idioms, fixed and semi-fixed phrases which form such an important part of the language.
5. Task-based syllabus is more of performance learning. Sometimes, it is referred to as Task-based instruction, or TBI. This syllabus makes the performance of meaningful tasks central to the learning process.
            To realise this activities written on the syllabus, we will later on deal with the lesson stages. The issue of how one activity leads into another is a matter of how different parts of stages of a lesson hang together. Students need to know, during a lesson, when one stage has finished and another is about to begin. This involves drawing their attention to what is going to happen next, or making it clear that something has finished by making summarising comments. When planning lessons, we need to think carefully about what stages a lesson will go through and how we will get from one stage to another.

Designing and Using Lesson Plans
            As Harmer says, there are a requirement for teachers to detail the procedure they intend to follow: (1) Aims. These are the outcomes which all our teaching will try to achieve – the destinations on our map. (2) Class profile. A class description tells us who the students are, how they behave, and what can be expected of them. (3) Assumptions. We assume the students know and can do. (4) Personal aims. Some trainers and teaching schemes ask teachers to list their personal aims for the lesson as a way of provoking some kind of development and reflection. (5) Skill and language focus. Sometimes, we may want to list the structures, functions, vocabulary or pronunciation items separately so that an observer can instantly and clearly see what the students are goint to study. (6) Timetable fit. We need to see what happens before and after the lessons to predict the unforeseen problems. (7) Success indicators. The point of including success indicators in our plan background is that then both teacher and observer can easily evaluate if the lesson aims have been achieved (Harmer, 2007).
            A good lesson plan has definitely clear objectives to achieve. The aims or goals are suitable for the class culture and it is possible for the class to reach the objectives. Moreover, the aims projected should be realistic, which mean, all of the teaching and learning activities can be done in real life so that both the teacher and student can feel the benefits of the materials. In addition, a course should be timed in order to keep the teaching sequence in track. In short, the design of lesson plan should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed.
To broaden our knowledge how to design and use lesson plans, it is good for us to know some of factors which influence the education itself. (1) Learner characteristics. Teachers need to know these crucial variables affecting both learners’ successes in acquiring a foreign language and teachers’ capacities to enable learners to achieve that acquisition. (2) Linguistic factors. (3) Learning process. (4) Instructional variables (5) Context (6) Purpose. After we gather much information about the points mentioned, decisions about lesson design should be made and later on, implemented to the everyday meeting.
In planning a sequence of lessons (e.g. a week’s work, a month’s work, a semester’s work, etc.) sometimes we need to deal with predictions of the upcoming events. This aims at knowing how the course will progress. There are a number of issues we need to bear in mind (1) Reacting to what happens. Modifications in our plans might be needed because of the unforeseen things that are likely to happen during the course of a lesson. (2) Short- and long-term goals. The aims should be implemented  to both students and teachers whether it is to master the English language, or simply to complete some piece of work. (3) Thematic content. This one way approach, we and our students can refer backwards and forwards, both in terms of language focusing on the vocabulary that certain topics generate and investing time in considering. (4) Language planning. Sufficient opportunities should be built for recycling or remembering language, as well as using language as a productive skill work. (5) Activity balance. A suitable activity balance will provide the widest range of experience to meet the different learning styles of the students in the class. (6) Skills. The balance of skills depends to a large extent on the kind of the course we are teaching. General English courses are designed to involve students in the four skill of English namely speaking, listening, reading, and writing. (Harmer, 2007)

Projects and threads
Some lesson sequences may be devoted to longer project work. A good balance of skills, language, activities, and thematic strands is achieved throughout the time in which the students are working on project. A good project of this kind will involve students in reading, discussion, writing (with language input) and, possibly, oral presentation. A research resulted that the designed teaching model is the learning and teaching method that can promote real participation of the students in the learning processes (Boondee, Kindrakarn, Sa-Ngiamvibool, 2011). The actual definition for Project-based learning (PBL) is the learning method that places students at the center of the learningprocess. It is widely used to replace the traditional teaching method in which the teacher, who is thecenter, strictly follows the teaching plan. In a PBL classroom, the teacher leads the students to thelearning that they desire or the learning following the project objectives. The PBL process thusinvolves an in-depth learning process with systematic learning management to get useful andapplicable results, create motivation, and reinforce necessary living skills (Buck Institute forEducation, 2010; Harris and Katz, 2001; Moursund, 1999).

Conclusion        In conclusion, firstly, the character-based education should be embedded in lesson plans because its importance in building the nation's character. It is the teachers' homework to be a good model for their students. Secondly, simple or detailed lesson planning is important when teaching. Syllabus is the key success of every teaching. Thirdly, for novice teachers, lesson plans are fundamentally useful as the map of teaching while for expert teachers, planning lessons are not necessary because of their ability to cope with the students minute by minute and they can treat and know exactlt what to do. Finally, project learning is the best method of teaching and learning English especially for young learners because it involves students in reading, discussion, writing (with language input) and, possibly, oral presentation. In relevance with character education, every school is expected to implement this characters to build an intellect nation both in character and values


Alwasilah, C. 2011. Bahasa dan Karakter Bangsa. Bandung: Pikiran Rakyat

Brown, H.D. 2007. Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. New York:

Harmer, J. The Practice of English Language Teaching. 3rd Edition. pg. 79-80.  
         Essex: Pearson Education Ltd., 2001

Suyanto. 2009. Urgensi Pendidikan Karakter.

____. 2010. Sosialisasi Kurikulum Berkarakter. Surakarta: LPMP

____. 2010. Longman Contemporary Dictionary. New York: Longman

Pendidikan, kurikulum, evaluasi, inovasi, penelitian, belajar aktif, sosial-budaya, politik, ekonomi, ide-ide kreatif tentang isu aktual beragam bidang http://sbelen.wordpress.com/2009/04/28/kado-bagi-guru-format-silabus-rpp-1-halaman/

Sabtu, 24 Desember 2011

The Implementation of Pragmatist Epistemology and Education As A Good Basis of Character Education in Indonesia

Today's  students will enter a workforce that is vastly different from that of their parents. Increasingly, they must be able to work in teams that are cross-functional and often global to solve complex and important problems that critically affect the world  while responding creativity to rapidly changing business landscapes using rapidly evolving technologies. Teachers should provide them with good characters to support the development of critical skills students that will meet the complex demands of the 21st century.
Education is part of our life, the basis of everything, all the knowledge and skills people acquire, since we have use of reason, which are needed to function and predict consequences in society. These days, students are taught how to prepare themselves dealing with the society, enabling them to independently find solutions to various and complicated social problems. As important as it is considered that many institutions such as school and university are available, which offer programs to children, adolescents and adults to build their strong character to deal with the upcoming problems in social life . Basically, students will learn in these institutions skill as reading, math, and science. However, character education is fundamentally crucial for the success of the individual’s life in coping with the demands of the 21st century, where everything are judge by its value to the society . In 1996,  the UNESCO-sponsored Delors Report (The Treasure Within) identified four pillars enabling individual development: learning to do, learning to be, learning to understand, and learning to live together. These four pillars are essential in order to prepare the students interact with the community and social life.
This paper will present arguments in supporting the idea that the implementation of pragmatist epistemology and education can be a good basis of character education in Indonesia because of its four reasonable concepts: (1) An active and exploratory mind (2) Method of Intelligence (3) Situational learning construction and (4) Curiousity stimulation. Thus, this paper explains how the implementation of pragmatism in education can be a good basis to build student characters as their preparatory towards the complicated 21st century demands.

Character Education
Character education has been phenomenal in Indonesia these days. This kind of teaching method started to boom quite a long time ago when people in Indonesia especially teachers and parents concern not only about student academic achievement, but also the emotional and religious intelligent. Character is the way how an individual think and behave which shape his or her trait to cooperate with other people in family circle, society, and country. An individual is considered good in character when he or she is able to make decisions and be responsible for the decisions he or she has made. Character education is one of the aims of national goal in educational aspect. It is said in Pasal 1 UU Sisdiknas 2003 that the national education aims at developing student potential to have intelligence, good character and personalities, and be a real human. As Dr. Martin Luther King says that intelligence plus character, that is the goal of true education. In America, this kind of education has been embodied in every subjects taught at school or university.
Chaedar Alwasilah, a professor in University of Education, stated in his article that character education in Indonesia has not been a good news for us. Many cases have risen on TV about corruptions, misconceptions, criminal, etc. were actually rooted from the failure of character education. The teacher roles as an educator, instructor, and best example are built through the character-based education and this should be embeded in every subject taught at school or university. Furthermore, it is good to know that character education benefits both the teachers and the students. For the language teacher, it is a challenge to be a good model or example for the students and the they are expected to initially had it before transferring the character education through language they use in everyday meetings. Seeing the fact that students are facing a world that is full of complexity, pragmatism is believed to be a great foundation to help them live in the socity. Character education is considered helpful in shaping the most important character expected in student’s life, namely critical thinking. Critical thinking should be embedded as to stimulate students’ way of thinking to be able to diagnose problem, analyse it by facts, seek for ideas, make decisions, and later on solve the problem independently.

The Philosophy of Pragmatism
Pragmatism refers to the philosophical position that the test of an ideas truth is its practical consequences. Pragmatism is a reaction against abstract, romantic, and idealistic philosophies, countering instead that the truth of an idea arises from observing its consequences. Pragmatisms roots are in empiricism and the scientific method, and the energies and enthusiasm of late nineteenth-century American life are obvious in pragmatism. John Dewey (18591952), chair of the philosophy department at the University of Chicago at the turn of the century, is best known for his work on education and social issues. Deweys guiding philosophy, instrumentalism, is a strand of pragmatism. Dewey was critical of abstract and theological notions of truth and reality. Deweys approach utilized a praxis formula for inquiry as the method for advancing knowledge. He believed that through experience the mind acquires knowledge, but over time new experiences challenge the previously held beliefs. The process of inquiry, challenging staid ideas and the resulting new synthesis, is the process by which truth becomes known to the individual.
In philosophical terms, pragmatism is generally considered to be nominalistic and pluralistic. Ideas are not real as abstract, formal categories, but change as experiences are apprehended and given meaning by the mind. The philosopher Ferdinand C. Schiller (1864–1937) wrote that concepts are tools slowly fashioned by the practical intelligence for the mastery of experience (Schiller 1907, p. 64). Thus, for Schiller there is no single truth, although there are truths that are relevant within a given context. James agreed, citing that truth was not static but ambulatory, directly related to human experiences. Moreover, old truths may no longer be relevant to the contemporary setting because they no longer adequately convey meaning about the world as it is. Thus, they are no longer true.
For pragmatists, ideas are contextual and their worth derives from the utility of their consequences. Pragmatists believe there is no first cause, nor is there a single ultimate end. Rather, the world is pluralistic in that social and empirical phenomena are connected but it is the individual who gives meaning to experience, and therefore the value of a concept is in its practical consequences. James wrote  that the distinctions between thoughts and things are the the conceptions of classes with subclasses within them, surely all these were once definite conquests made at historic dates by our ancestors in their attempts to get the chaos of their crude individual experiences into a more shareable and manageable shape. (James, 1909).

The Implementation of Pragmatist Epistemology and Education As A Good Basis of Character Education
Having provided with the reality and the development of education, pragmatism can be considered as one of the most suitable philosophy of educations nowadays. Teachers are expected to teach and help the students to learn how to solve problems by providing character education. It is in here were education pay an important role in the school. In his most famous writing about education, The School and the Society, Dewey presents some principals in educating students. It is included, that the role of the teacher is mainly as supervisor or advisor and devil’s advocate. The education process should begin with, and built on, the student interests (Magee, 2001). The There are four arguments which evidentally supports the implementation of pragmatism: (1) An active and exploratory mind (2) Method of Intelligence (3) Situational learning construction and (4) Curiousity stimulation. The explanations are as follow:
An Active and Exploratory Mind. Pragmatists believe the mind to be active and exploratory rather than passive and receptive. Knowledge is produced by a “transaction” between man and his environment, and truth is a property of knowledge. As a pragmatist, Dewey sees that knowing is very human (Magee, 2001). If teachers put this argument, they will not limit their students into some restictions. They will treat those explanatory-mind-creatures as something that is open to any possibilities, new creative ideas, new perceptions, breakthroughs, and unlimited learning process.
Method of Intelligence. Pragmatists also maintain that the “method of intelligence” is the ideal way to acquire knowledge. Students grasp things best, by locating and solving problems. (Kneller, 1971). Dewey supports the idea of problem solving should be the basis of children education, which he claims as learning by doing. This method encourage students to be imaginative, and the most important, train them in accomplishing competence in every aspect of life (Magee, 2001).
Situational Learning Construction. According to the pragmatists, the teacher should construct learning situations around particular problems whose solution will lead his or her students to a better understanding of their social and physical environment. The same procedure should be followed in learning the skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic. All subjects become more meaningful to the student and so more easily mastered when the student can use them as means for satisfying needs and interests of his own. By creating situational learning construction, students will be engaged in learning since the subject taught based on their interests. This will nourish their ability to be critical, tolerant towards social environment, and respective to other people’s point of views.
Curiousity Stimulation. A young person is a natural learner because he is naturally curious. He will learn most from whatever he feels stimulated to explore and think about. The teacher should foster this spirit of inquiry. Instead of instructing the student in subject matter prescribed for him by others, the teacher should encourage the student about to learn what he feels curious about and to feel a curiousity about the subject that matter such as science, literature, and history. Stimulus novelty, however, is not a sufficient factor for evoking exploratory behaviour: in order to elicit exploration, a stimulus, apart from being novel, must also be interesting and attractive (Henderson & Moore, 1980). The point for the pragmatist is that the child should learn from curiousity, while the teacher should stimulate curiousity about subjects that will fully reward it.

Pragmatist Values and Education
Values abound everywhere in education. They are involved in every aspect of school practice. They are basic to all matters of choice and decision-making. Using values, teachers evaluate students and students evaluate teachers. Society evaluates course of study, school program, and teaching competence, and society itself is evaluated by educators. For the pragmatist, values are relative. Ethical and moral canons are not permanent but must alter as cultures and societies change. The child should learn how to make difficult moral decisions not by recourse to rigidly prescribed principles but by deciding which course of action is likely to produce the best result for human beings. Teachers should assist them in making the best solution by providing them with character education.
As Thomas Kuhn argues about the structure of scientific revolutions in 1970, to understand scientific thought we must understand scientific communities; scientific knowledge changes, not as our understanding of the world changes, but as scientists organize and reorganize relations among themselves (Couvalis, 1997). Thus, taking into consideration all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that education, being a very complicated phenomenon, has to progress and adapt to the current conditions. Education should be democratic, humanistic, and more importantly, provide students with character education, practical knowledge and skills and abilities to realize them in practical life. But firstly the purposes of education have to be defined and only after that it is possible to speak about methods that can be applied, classroom activities and classroom management, curriculum at large and finally, this process has to be based on an individual approach to each student. Naturally in such a situation a teacher should correspond to such demands and progress along with his/her students.

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Sabtu, 10 Desember 2011

Critical Analysis of a Statistic Journal Article

L. Huang (2007). The Contribution of Home Background to Student Inequality in Secondary School in Norway in Standards in Education, pp. 331-345

In this essay, I would like to provide my critical understanding of a journal article entitled The Contribution of Home Background to Student Inequality in Secondary Schools in Norway written by Lihong Huang. There are 6 questions asked dealing with the inequality in secondary schools in Norway. Before moving to the main issue, I shall be discussing the social structure and education system of Norway. Then finally I will come up with the burning issue.
Education system in Norway allows children to start school when they are six year old. Compulsory education is ten years that includes seven years primary school and three years lower secondary school. 98 percent of young people enter upper secondary school education after they have finished lower secondary education (Markussen, 2003). Upper secondary education is three years optional schooling provided by the government to children between 16 and 19 years old. Before 2006, students would choose from three educational paths in their upper secondary schooling, namely (1) academic path which leads into university entrace qualifications after three years of study, (2) merchantile path which leads to a trade or journeyman’s certificate after four years of study, and (3) professional path which leads to certain vocational competence such as mechanic, carpenter, or electrician after three years of study.
In fall 2006, graduates from lower secondary school will apply either a general education path which leads to university entrance or professional path which leads to vocational competence for their upper secondary education. Finally, around 35 percent of upper secondary school graduates continue to tertiary education right away and about 50 percent of the Norwegian young population choose tertiary education after completion of upper secondary education at some point in their life.
Huang argued that the specific structure of educational system in a country has implications for social mobility of the individual who make careers in the system (Allmendinger, 1989). A flat structured society plays an important role in Norwegia as there are some clear features of cultural fractions within the middle class and among different occupational groups.  
In contrast, social status refers to a set of hierarchical relations that express perceived, and to some degree accepted, social superiority, equality and inferiority among individuals, which reflect not their personal qualities, but rather the degree of ‘social honour’ attaching to certain of their positional or perhaps purely ascribed attributes, such as ‘birth’ or ethnicity (Chan and Goldthorpe, 2004).
To sum up, the issue proposed by the author is that, the inequality in secondary school in Norway was influenced by the student family background. There is a relationship between the student home backround and student  motivation and achievements. The author based this issue on the sociocultural, psychological and environmental educations from parents, teachers, and others.
Answering the question number 2: The author argues that ability and social background are the key factors affecting students’ decision to undertake higher studies. Do you agree with him? What are the other likely factors which motivate/do not motivate students to undertake tertiary education?
In respond to this question, I would say that I agree with the author’s arguments. It is found in Norway that children whose parents take completed tertiary education have higher achievement and have much higher of participation in tertiary education. The fact that different social strata in Norway have their own specific class cultures determines the individual occupations. Also, different social strata manage to pass their cultures along generations through influencing their children’s educational career choices. Parents’ social class will be seen through their children education and occupations. This social strata affects on the students from immigrant families. They tend to study harder and have more encouragement from home to aim higher in their career development (Lauglo, 1999, 2000).

Other factor which motivates students to undertake tertiary education is the gender issues which were known as gender segregation. This issue ensure men and women have equal access to a higher education, equal opportunities for participation in the labor force and in choice of occupation. Today, women and men have more or less equal levels of education, and women’s participation in working live has increased dramatically since 1960s.
The third question: In this research the author derives his hypotheses from three theories. Formulate an hypotheses and a research question based on each of these theories. What type of statistical tools would you choose for your stated hyphoteses? For the response of this questions, I would like to list three theories used. The first theory is forward test anxiety theory which suggest that children strive for approval from parents and significant others and fear for disapproval (Skinner and Fester, 1957). The second theory is the need achievement theory that suggests that children strive for success or avoid failure according to the values placed on either success or failure (Atkinson and Feather, 1966). The last theory is the theory of motivation that explains motivation to learn as a competence acquired through children’s experience but stimulated mostly by modelling, communication of expectations, direct instruction or socialization by parents, teachers expectation, and significant others (Brophy, 1987).
Allow me to formulate a hyphothesis based on these theories. I would derive the hypotheses from the null hyphotheses, that is, there is no relationship between the student home social backround and the student achievements.  In addition, I would like to propose the Correlation Coefficient as the statistical tool. Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient, also known as r, R, or Pearson's r, a measure of the strength of the linear relationship between two variables that is defined in terms of the (sample) covariance of the variables divided by their (sample) standard deviations.
The question number 4 about the figures 14.1 page 337 will be explained as follows: Figure 14.1 is an analytical model based in theories and previous research. The model contains four latent clusters. Two separate variables – family social status and family economic status are hypothesized to constitute student home socio-economic status. The hyphothesized links between student family social status, family economic status with student motivation and student achievement are tested in the model, using LISREL techniques. The arrow directed from student motivation to student achievement in a hypothesis that students who aim high in their educational plans eventually do better in their studies. 
The answers of questions number 5 are as follow: Table 14.1 explains about the students’ parents. Among them, only 12 percent of the fathers and 10 percent of the mothers report lower secondary school as their highest level of education while 36 percent of fathers and 35 percent of mothers have educational attainment equal to and above tertiary level. As table 14.1 shows, parental educational attainments from the dataset are not significantly different from the national total. Concerning family financial situation, 6.5 percent of the students claim to be poor while 67 percent of them say that their family’s financial situation is rather good and 22 percent of them feel that their family is in a better financial situation than the average family in their neighborhood.
Table 14.2 summarizes correlations between student-family social background, student educational motivation and student achievement. First, father’s and mother’s education levels correlate almost equally with student motivation and achievement. Second, all correlations are positive, which means that parents with high educational attainment tend to have children with high educational motivation and high achievement as well. Third, all the correlations are rather moderate but statistically significant. The positive correlation in Table 14.2 provide us some explanations of students planning of education and their school achievement. It implies that students have higher educational goals if their parents have higher educational attainment. The same implication also applies to student achievement in theree subjects. Nevertheless, these relationships need more careful exploration, achieved by testing the linear structural mode in the following.
Table 14.3 presents the statistical result of a linear structural model linking student home socio-economic status, student motivation and student achievement. It shows that home social status, measured by father’s and mother’s educational attainments have a very strong positive and direct effect on student motivation and a strong total effect on student achievement. Home economic status seems to have very little effect on either student motivation or student achievement. Student motivation has a strong and positive effect on student achievement.
For the last question, I would like to explain about the likely factors for better academic performance of children from more educated parents and immigrant families. Norway is one of the few countries in the world that have achieved social equality to some extent. As long as there is segregation in the society, occupational or cultural, the education system will be there to maintain and reproduce it.
There are two blocks here, for more educated parents, it is believed that they would influence their children to get tertiary education to secure their social status. The other block is from the immigrant families that tend to study harder in order to reach a better career development. Those two blocks are the reason why is that the tertiary education choosing should be based on the children interests for better academic performance.
This study showed that student motivation and student achievement are also influenced by the other factors, for example: cultural capital of the family as well as its social and economic capitals, student school experience, school learning environment, teacher attitude and treatment towards different students, etc.

Chan, T.W., Birkelund, G. E., Aas, A. K., Wiborg, O. (2010). Social Status in Norway. University of Oslo.
Huang, L. (2007). Standards in Educations: The Contribution of Home Background to Student Inequality in Secondary Schools in Norway, 331-345.

Kilden. (2006). Gender in Norway: Policy Areas.