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


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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.  
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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

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