Friday, January 25, 2008

HOW TO BEA GOOD CITIZEN

  1. Do your share to make your school, your community, and the world a better place. .
  2. Take responsibility for what goes on around you.
  3. Participate in community service.
  4. Help take care of the environment.
  5. Be a good neighbor.
  6. Treat other people with respect and dignity.
  7. Follow the rules of your family, your school, and your society.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Understanding Good and Evil in Children's Literature

by Renée Fuller

"But surely you know that good and evil are a matter of opinion!" The voice on the phone belonged to a senior editor of a large publishing house. It was an authoritative voice, very sure of itself, yet trying to be reassuring as it continued.

"Please understand. I personally find your books thoroughly enjoyable and much more interesting than the standard pap we're all producing. But that's not the point. No large publisher can bring out a reading series with stories about good guys and bad guys. Of course they are very entertaining. But they give the children the wrong picture of life...."

"Did I hear right?" My astonishment was escalating. "You said that there is no such thing as good and evil? . . . . Of course there is!"
The voice of the senior editor broke in. "Now Dr. Fuller, you know perfectly well that what's labeled good or evil depends on who writes the history. It's all relative . . . "
"You've gotta be kidding! If someone kills you when you leave the office tonight, that's evil. To say it's all a matter of opinion -- you'll scare the kids to death with that viewpoint, and me too! Besides, no society can survive without an understanding of good and evil."

Although we continued talking for a long time, we never did resolve our disagreement. This conversation more than ten years ago, was my first introduction into a policy that is still being implemented by major publishers. It explains much of what is printed in today's textbooks.
As a child psychologist. I am concerned about the all-pervasive fear such a relativistic viewpoint of good and evil creates. It makes children with their linear logic wonder, "What's to prevent someone from hurting me or my Mom and Dad if even nice people do such things? And, if hurting can be justified, then it's all the more likely to happen." These childish fears and logic are reinforced by the terrifying reality of TV news with its daily scenes of violence and terrorism against innocent people.

To counteract this terrifying reality, adults must express their concern--their horror--at acts of evil. Indignation when others are harmed reassures children. The child gains security from knowing that there are standards that all of us are expected to live up to; that when someone does not live up to these standards, it means that he is a bad guy.

In the ten years since my conversation with the senior editor I have seen numerous children reassured and comforted by stories about good and bad guys -- with the good guys winning of course. Ironically, it was the conversation with the senior editor and similar ones with other large publishers that set into motion events which made me see first hand the importance of stories about good and evil.

Good and evil are concepts that represent the essential rules of behavior without which no society can survive.

My refusal to change the reading series to please the large publishers made it necessary to print the books on my own. Overnight, I became a small publisher. As a result, schools, learning centers, universities and parents talked to me directly about their children and the books. Through workshops and visits I saw how the stories, which the senior editor had objected to, were creating understandings that are essential to the mental health of developing minds. The children identified with the good guys and wanted to become more like them. Just like the students in our original research studies, these children also found comfort and security in their identification with the doers of good deeds.

The books which are from 100 to 150 pages long are of graded difficulty. Each book is a separate science fiction adventure. Although some of the characters appear in book after book, their level of sophistication rises as does the level of the good guys' battle with evil. In our research, the older students often described this battle as similar to their own. Unexpectedly, court-committed delinquents became especially involved with this aspect of the books. Reggie was the first such youngster to tell us that the stories made him feel good..

At age 14, Reggie had been institutionalized for armed burglary and arson. Because he was illiterate, we tried to break into his cycle of failure and violence by teaching him to read. At the time the books had just been written. We were unfamiliar with their effect, therefore had no expectation that the stories might be therapeutic. So when Reggie told us that Timo, the main character of The Voorhoo Who Did Not Understand He Was Born To Be Bad "is like me", we were puzzled. How could he be like Timo, who spends more than 100 pages of hilarious adventures with Vad the robot from Mars, and Mimithecomet, learning that helping means giving even when there's no reward? Surely they bore little resemblance to one another. Or did they?

We asked Reggie what he thought had happened to Timo, and why he liked him so much. The answer was so simple, yet so adult. "He become more of a man." This was a very different idea of manhood from the pimps and drug dealers Reggie had idolized in the past. The stories had helped Reggie develop an identity of his own just like Timo had in the story. Happy endings are possible even for the delinquents who are terrorizing and are terrorized by our city streets.
Amusing as it sounds, it is nevertheless realistic to say that discernment of right and wrong has a real mental health function.

But it is not just the disadvantaged for whom the stories about good and evil help in the development of an identity. Bobby, aged seven, the precocious provocateur of his private school, was about to be expelled. After consultation, his desperate mother raced him through the reading series so he would be an adult reader in a matter of months. In this way, Bobby would have access to the world of ideas to help his very active mind stay out of mischief Bobby and his Mom succeeded. But even before this achievement something else had happened. The school provocateur had become a pint-sized storyteller. Like the books of the reading series, Bobby's stories were about space characters. They were miniature tales about good guys and bad guys -- with the good guys winning of course. But most important, they were moral stories, reflecting the child's discovery of the concept of good and evil, and that this concept has meaning.

Bobby shared his discovery with his classmates -- a very different kind of sharing from the spitballs, slingshot paperclips and foul language of the past. There was no more talk of his being expelled. The child gains security from knowing that there are standards that all of us are expected to live up to; that when someone does not live up to these standards, it means that he is a bad guy. For all our experimental students, identification with the good guys, and the desire to be more like them produced strikingly positive personality changes. Jeffrey, who was retarded, and had also been in trouble with the law, described the effect. When you try to be good, that means one less bad guy. Sometimes you make other kids good. It's like you make things happen. Not like before, things was always happening to you.

With these realizations, Jeffrey had become more outgoing, more sunny. He was acting and saying that the world had become less scary -- a nicer place. He had understood that when you try to be a good guy, try to make this a better world, you have ceased to be helpless. You have gained at least some control over your surroundings. Being less helpless means that you can at least try to control the "baddies" in yourself. This is especially important because for all of us one of the most frightening things is when we find ourselves out of control -- when we see and hear with frightened astonishment the strange performance we ourselves are producing.

Children and the retarded can be very logical. They reason that if you can't control your own "baddies," then other people probably can't control theirs. Therefore, danger lurks everywhere. Getting control over your own "baddies" means, as Jeffrey described it, that the world can tee made into a safer place. And that "all the good guys get together so that no bad guys win. This was Jeffrey's way of expressing the hope he now had for mankind -- a hope and a yearning shared by many of us who also enjoy stories about good guys winning in their battle with evil!
Children the world over are frightened by evil, which is why they are fascinated by stories which overcome this fear. They feel personally involved when evil is vanquished -- when good triumphs. They have gained a type of control over a terror which seems to be lurking in the shadows, threatening them with what psychologists call "learned helplessness."

"Learned helplessness" happens when you feel powerless to protect yourself or your family from harm. But it is more. For "learned helplessness" produces damaging physical and emotional symptoms. In the laboratory, the animal that has repeatedly found that no matter what he does it makes no difference, stops struggling. He has given up. Even if the situation is changed, he doesn't realize it because he has stopped trying. He has learned to be helpless. The corresponding human becomes depressed and loses interest in life. The point of living has been taken away. "What's the use?" say the emotions, and the physiology begins to shut down.
It is appalling that we now see large numbers of depressed children. These are youngsters who believe that no matter what they do, it will make no difference. For them the good guys don't win, there are no good guys. Several mental hospitals have used an astonishingly successful therapeutic tool with some of these depressed children. It is the reading series the senior editor objected to more than ten years ago. A juvenile court system in Kansas has had similar results with young offenders who, like Reggie, thought that Timo had "become more of a man."
It is appalling that we now see large numbers of depressed children, who believe that no matter what they do, it will make no difference. For them the good guys don't win -- there are no good guys.

The preoccupation of children with stories about good and evil represents a healthy preoccupation. It is the child's way of gaining control of himself and his world. With such control, knowing that he is not helpless since he has controlled at least some of the "baddies" within himself, the world is less scary. Amusing as it sounds, it is nevertheless realistic to say that discernment right and wrong have a vital mental health function.

The similarity in what is considered good and evil in our various human cultures is not accidental. Good and evil are concepts that represent the essential rules of behavior without which no society can survive. Just as a child fears for its survival without a belief in right and wrong, so must a society. The feeling of danger shared by many of us that our society is disintegrating because of lack of standards is not unrealistic. The drug culture, and the violence in our schools are ample evidence that our fears are not unfounded.

But there is another reason for our children's preoccupation with stories about good and evil: another reason for their search to understand what represents right and what represents wrong. It is that they are trying to establish an identity. Cathy, one of our four-year-olds, was a beautiful representative of this.

For all our experimental students, identification with the good guys. and the desire to be more like them produced strikingly positive personality changes.

Shortly after Cathy began the series, Vad, the robot from Mars became her hero. She drew picture after picture of him. Of course, because she was only four years old, they were not very good pictures. Eagerly she ran up to visitors telling them with wide-eyed excitement about Vad's exploits, and how he rescued and helped those in need. A few months later, after she had reached the middle of the series, (about the 5th or 6th grade level) her fantasies expanded. Now she was the rescuer, the helper of those in need. Her self-concept was developing into an identity involved with good deeds. Although only four, she was aware that she was Cathy and knew what type of person she wanted to become.

In the years that have followed since my original conversation with the senior editor, I have seen first-hand the fascination children have for stories about good and evil. There are powerful reasons for this phenomenon which are rooted in child dewlopment. These stories, which appear in all cultures, all religions, play an essential role in the mental health of childhood. They also help create the person the child will become. Quite by accident, it was my own reading series that showed me the power of stories in creating adults who will help us make this a better world.

About the Author
After developing the Ball-Stick-Bird reading system with its unexpected successes in teaching four-year olds, adult dyslexic-illiterates and even the severely retarded to read in record time, Dr. Renee Fuller went on to develop the story-as-the-engram theory of cognitive organization, an alternative to intelligence (IQ) theory. Her theory, a consequence of the unexpected successes of her reading system, has since led to further approaches for enhancing our human ability.

Dr. Fuller went to Swarthmore and Hunter Colleges, was a Phi Beta Kappa and graduated with honors in psychology. She received her M.A. in experimental psychology from Columbia University, and her Ph.D. in 1963 in physiological psychology from New York University. From 1960 to 1966 she was Research Scientist at Letchworth Village, New York State Department of Mental Hygiene, responsible for the psychological and developmental evaluation of the New York State study of phenylketonuria. As project director at the Staten Island Society of Mental health from 1966 to 1967, Dr. Fuller directed the evaluation of premature infants. There, as Chief of Psychological Services, Rosewood Hospital Center, Maryland Department of Mental Hygiene from 1967 to 1973, she organized a psychology department involved in applied and basic research in the field of human development.

One of her experimental programs dealt with the cognitive changes following Ball-Stick-Bird intervention. For this work she received Fairleigh Dickinson University's Distinguished Achievement Award. The American Psychological Association has devoted a lengthy symposium and workshops to the results of the reading system and its implications for intelligence theory. An expanded version of ths symposium appeared in book form under the title In Search of the IQ Correlation.

The story-as-the-engram theory, contrary to standard intelligence theory, is anchored in the applied world of person to person communication. Dr. Fuller has shown how language development in children determines how we organize our cognitive world. She has further shown that this capacity can be greatly enhanced through educational intervention. Of considerable interest to our aging population is that by enhancing this capacity there is an increase rather than decrease in intellectual functioning with increasing age.

Dr. Fuller has published widely in the field of clinical physiological psychology. At present she is continuing her work in developing learning programs and is consultant to numerous school systems, universities, departments of education, and other organizations.
You can reach Dr. Fuller at:Ball-Stick-Bird PublicationsPO Box 429, Williamstown, MA 01267
telephone: (413) 664-0002e-mail:
info@ballstickbird.comhttp://www.ballstickbird.com

Education by Intention, Not Default:

by Ellen Taussig

By the time children turn 18, they will have spent 10 percent of their lives at school. As powerful an influence as school can be, the other 90 percent of students' lives will be affected by lessons they learn outside of school. This ratio strongly suggests that the total education of a child will be most successful if it is a joint venture between parents and teachers. In both worlds, this venture can be guided by intention -- or left to the effects of a "default" culture.
Independent schools can offer an environment that allows the partnership between families and teachers to flourish. Their small size allows them to create intentional learning cultures in which all aspects of a child's education, from academics to ethical attitudes, can be carefully guided. Discerning parents can select a culture that mirrors their own values, and they can remain in close touch with the school to reinforce those values in both worlds.

Creating an Intentional Culture
Education does not happen in a vacuum. Rather, it mirrors the values of a culture. But American society today is not a single, unified culture. We are too young -- a mere 250 years, or so -- and we are highly multicultural in broad and complex ways.
Because we lack a common national culture that guides education, good schools must create intentional cultures. Of course they must offer a high quality, even visionary curriculum; but they also must create a total learning environment and community that fosters inclusiveness and respect among all members -- student to student, student to teacher, and teacher to student. The school must provide appropriate rigor for learning, but also engender joy in learning. It must be a place where students discover that integrity in thought and action are as important as the subject matter they learn in class.

In such an environment, students learn best and feel inspired and confident enough to initiate activities. They may organize their peers to refurbish migrant worker camps, reach out to fellow students in need through mentoring programs, build Habitat for Humanity teams, or create a series of Harry Potter skits adapted for their school at weekly assemblies.
A critical aspect of our intentional school culture involves building community and fostering respect within that community. This must be predicated on a clear philosophy of behavior, such as "Courtesy and Common Sense." When everyone in the community understands the common philosophy--families, teachers, and students-- it becomes the norm to practice those ideals. Other ways to build community include a common lunch program in which everyone, including teachers, share the same food each day, and regular Community Meetings during which the whole school shares work, performances, and information.

Families Select a School With a Culture that Mirrors Their Own
A clearly defined, intentional school culture provides a micro culture that may match that of a family, in contrast to the otherwise undefined culture of the larger society, what I call the default culture.

Too young and complex to have a unified culture, America is comprised of many microcultures. A microculture embraces a set of values that guide decisions about the important areas of life, including parenting and education. This is clearly seen in religious microcultures, whether among Catholics, fundamentalist Christians, Hasidic Jews, or Muslims, where decisions about education are inextricably linked to passing on the religion. Other microcultures may be found among new groups of immigrants, who retain their strong family connections and values, or among families with legacies in an occupation, such as generations of family-owned businesses or law practices.
Microcultures also exist on a smaller scale. On almost any given block in America, each house or apartment may reflect a specific culture. Religion may play an important role in one household or none at all; children may be raised with formal etiquette such as addressing adults by last name, or not. Dinner may or may not be eaten together on a regular basis.

If a microculture engenders respect for education, elders, and the work ethic, its children will take those values to school with them. These values will provide the context within which the child will function. If the school culture mirrors those same values, a true joint venture between parents and the school will result. This is the ideal.

Recent research about the success of children in school points to the level of education of parents as a key indicator. The 11% of children in America's independent schools, whether religious (10%) or non-sectarian (1%), usually come from families whose parents are well-educated, or whose parents have ambitions for their children to be well-educated. The likelihood that these parents will guide their children's lives with intention and provide an identifiable culture at home is high. As part of the process, they will search out a school with a culture similar to their own. This is the basis for a successful relationship between school and home.

The Alternative: The Default Culture
All of us are subject to the default culture. The difference between those who are or are not part of a microculture is in differing abilities to assess, discriminate, or reject the messages that come from the default culture. That culture is inescapable: it assaults us as we walk or drive down the street from signs; when we open any commercial print publication; when we listen to the radio or TV; when we attend movies. But most importantly, it streams into our lives over the Internet, mixed in with the positive information the web also provides. The default culture is often suffused with consumerism and with the underbelly of life.

We all are affected by these messages. But without the filter of cultural values, children are especially vulnerable and can be endangered by the negative contents of the default culture. Just as education and parenting by intent cross class, educational, and ethnic lines, so do the effects of the default culture. During the 90 percent of their lives that children spend outside of school, the default culture can be a powerful educational influence.

What a successful joint venture between families and schools accomplishes is to give children the ability to navigate the default culture safely. Simply because a website exists that allows children to post cruel rumors about others does not mean that this behavior is right. Families and teachers must make this clear, and connect this value to a guiding philosophy. If a child hears the same explanation at home and at school, she will be empowered to decline negative behaviors.
Because the world we live in lacks a clear culture in which education takes place, it is more important than ever for today's families to be intentional about their children's education, and to prevent it from becoming a casualty of the default culture. Although independent school families may be more engaged than many others, it is important that all American parents make this choice, and work to shape the culture of the school their children attend.

About the author
Ellen Taussig is co-founder and Head ofof School of The Northwest School in Seattle, WA, an independent college-preparatory school serving 446 students in grades 6-12, including international students. In her 36 years as a professional educator in both public and independent schools in California and Washington, she has been a teacher and administrator. As a second generation American, she is particularly interested in the relationship between culture and education. Contact her at ellen.taussig@northwestschool.org.

Character Education (Related articles)

ArticlesRecommended ReadingRelated links
Educational systems today are focused on raising standards of academic achievement. However, as we consider the world in which we live, we understand the importance of helping students to learn much more than the subjects they study. Appropriate environments, activities, the arts, and service projects can help students to learn responsibility, compassion, integrity, civility, leadership and cooperation. These and other elements of healthy, well-developed character can be learned by example and opportunities to exercise them, as discussed by the authors of articles in this area.
Articles
The Heart of a Teacher: Identity and Integrity in Teaching Parker J. PalmerCharacter education is connected primarily with the integrity of the teacher.
Roadmaps For Life, Notes From The Journey Midge Bowman Ms. Bowman shares her thoughts on moral education and challenges us to make acts of kindness and love a living thing within the school community.
Education by Intention, Not Default: How Independent Schools and Families Create Respectful Learning Cultures Ellen Taussig Education takes place within the culture of a society, which is reflected in schools and households. But does our society have a culture? This article explains how one independent school creates a microculture congruent with that of the families whose children it serves.
Understanding Good and Evil in Children's Literature Dr. Renee FullerFuller maintains that it is no accident that stories of good and evil appear in all cultures -- they are essential to the mental health of young children.
From Outside In: How Out-of-School Programs Enrich Student Learning Nancy BaconThe Director of Educational Programs at the World Affairs Council of Seattle defines key elements of citizenship today and then explains how out-of-school programs connected with in-school curriculum support education for citizenship.
Making the Most of "Teachable Moments" Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D. Parents and teachers can find many ways to teach ethical behavior to children by recognizing the "teachable moments" that crop up every day.
Giraffes and Bats: A Giraffe Field Report The Giraffe Project

Recommended Reading
Bibliography
Moral Questions in the Classroom: How to Get Kids to Think Deeply About Real Life and Their Schoolwork Katharine G. Simon
The Soul of Education: Helping Students Find Connection, Compassion and Character at School Rachael Kessler
The Courage to Teach Parker Palmer
Teacher: The One Who Made a Difference Marc Edmundson
Tuned In and Fired Up: How Teaching Can Inspire Real Learning in the Classroom Sam M. Intrator
Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time Paul Rogat Loeb
Character Begins at Home: Family Tools for Teaching Character and Value Karen D. Olsen and Sue Pearson
A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life Parker Palmer
Related links
Character Education Manifesto Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character
Boston University's Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character
The Character Education Partnership

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pendidikan Karakter Generasi Muda

ditayangkan oleh susuwongi

Kami mahasiswa Indonesia bersumpah, bertanah air satu, tanah air tanpa penindasan. Kami mahasiswa Indonesia bersumpah, berbangsa satu, bangsa yang gandrung akan keadilan. Kami mahasiswa Indonesia bersumpah, berbahasa satu, bahasa tanpa kebohongan.
Sumpah Mahasiswa Indonesia Reformasi 98


Minggu, 28 Oktober 2007, merupakan hari penting bagi bangsa ini. Menjadi hari penting karena 79 tahun lalu pada tanggal yang sama generasi muda bangsa ini mengikrarkan rasa kesatuan. Unitas itu diungkapkan dalam tiga hal, yakni kesatuan dalam tanah air, kesatuan dalam bangsa, dan kesatuan dalam bahasa. Konvensi trilogi integralitas ini merupakan fakta sejarah yang tak terbantahkan bahwa generasi muda bangsa kala itu adalah generasi muda yang berkarakter.
Karakter seperti apa yang kaum muda Angkatan 28 nyatakan dalam Sumpah Pemuda? Menurut hemat penulis, sekurang-kurangnya tiga karakter yang mencuat di dalamnya. Pertama, karakter pemberani. Situasi pada waktu itu jelas kurang kondusif untuk menyatakan tekad yang bulat, apalagi untuk menggalang kebersamaan, yang tentunya upaya unitas ini dirasakan oleh kaum penjajah sebagai ancaman bagi eksistensi kekuasaannya.

Tetapi, keadaan terkungkung itu bukanlah hambatan bagi kaum muda mewujudkan semangatnya untuk bersatu. Justru situasi ini membangkitkan perasaan senasib dan sepenanggungan. Dengan demikian dapat dikatakan, meminjam pemikiran dialektis dari Hegel, kaum muda berjuang melawan tesis dengan antitesis. Tesisnya adalah upaya pemecah-belah dari penjajah terhadap bangsa ini, sedangkan antitesis adalah semangat untuk bersatu.
Terkait dengan butir pertama, karakter kedua adalah nasionalisme yang tangguh. Kala itu kaum muda menyadari betul bahwa kendati mereka berasal dari kelompok atau suku yang berbeda-beda dan berasal dari daerah yang berbeda-beda, namun mereka mengakui dirinya sebagai generasi bangsa yang senasib dan sepenanggungan. Lewat proses evolusi dunia pengajaran dan pendidikan model Barat, mereka menumbuhkan dan memekarkan akselerasi kesadaran nasional yang tinggi untuk merintis kemerdekaan bagi bangsanya.

Hal ini tentu bisa terwujudkan karena generasi 28 mampu mengalahkan naluri keberpihakannya pada kepentingan kelompok dan menempatkan kepentingan bersama sebagai skala prioritas. Di sinilah terlihat jelas semangat nasionalisme yang tangguh itu. Karena itulah mereka berani me- nyatakan tekad untuk bersatu dalam wilayah, dalam bangsa dan bahasa.
Karakter ketiga adalah intelektualis dan moralis. Intelektualis karena generasi 28 merintis refleksi serta debat tentang prinsip-prinsip dasar cita-cita kebangsaan dengan pikiran dan pengetahuan. Mereka tidak mau terjerembab dalam kubangan sikap yang dikhawatirkan oleh Julian Benda, yakni penghianatan intelektual demi kepentingan sesaat. Mereka justru mengkritisi sikap-sikap penjajah dan mendalami filsafat bangsa, masyarakat, dan negara yang dicita-citakan. Menjadi moralis, karena atas dasar solidaritas yang tinggi serta keberpihakan pada nilai-nilai mendasar kemanusiaan, mereka menyatakan perjuangan untuk melawan sang penindas dengan semangat yang sama.

Eksistensi Humanisme
Tiga karakter di atas menunjukkan bahwa kaum muda merupakan bagian integral dari perjuangan bangsa ini. Dalam bingkai ini, pengakuan akan peran serta mereka sangatlah penting. Namun, fakta partisipasi kaum muda dalam sejarah bangsa ini tidak hanya bersifat afirmatif, tetapi juga harus bersifat imperatif. Dengan kata lain, terhadap kaum muda, selain berani mengakui peran historisnya, perlu juga memperhatikan eksistensi humanismenya.
Kepedulian kita pada eksistensi kaum muda diwujudkan melalui pendidikan karakter. Karakter seperti apa yang perlu dihidupkan di kalangan generasi muda sekarang? Menurut hemat penulis, empat karakter penting berikut menjadi bagian pedagogi karakter itu.

Pertama, karakter perantau. Manusia perantau, meminjam istilah YB Mangunwijaya, adalah orang-orang yang menempatkan kerja keras, perjuangan serta usaha yang berkelanjutan sebagai prinsip hidup. Manusia seperti ini sadar akan keterbatasan dirinya. Karena kesadaran akan keterbatasan dirinya inilah maka nilai-nilai heroik menjadi bagian dari hidupnya. Hanya dengan modal keyakinan inilah dia mampu mengatasi keterbatasannya dan mampu membangun dunianya yang lebih humanis.

Menurut penulis bagi generasi muda sekarang karakter manusia perantau di atas sangat relevan. Kaum muda sekarang berhadapan dengan tantangan yang luar biasa berat. Penggunaan sumber daya alam yang tidak terkontrol serta kerusakan bumi yang semakin parah adalah realitas di hadapan mereka. Berhadapan dengan inilah mental manusia perantau sangat urgen. Dengan mental perantau itu mereka telah disiapkan menghadapi tantangan. Mereka tidak mudah menyerah.

Kedua, karakter intelektual. Generasi muda sekarang tentu tidak cukup dibekali dengan semangat juang yang tinggi serta kerja keras, melainkan juga perlu dibekali dengan pengetahuan yang memadai. Hal ini seiring dengan perkembangan zaman. Peter F Drucker telah mengingatkan kita bersama bahwa di era digital ini pengetahuan yang luas merupakan modal yang tak terhindarkan. Karena itulah semangat gemar membaca menjadi bagian penting dalam pendidikan karakter generasi muda.

Di era sekarang tuntutan ini merupakan tantangan besar. Kecanggihan teknologi justru telah membuat kaum muda lebih mencintai penemuan daripada pencarian. Tetapi, justru di tengah kultur pragmatisme ini karakter intelektual perlu mendapat perhatian.
Ketiga, karakter manusia otonom. Manusia otonom adalah orang yang memiliki prinsip yang jelas dalam hidupnya. Ia bukanlah orang yang mudah bimbang dan ragu terhadap keputusannya dan mudah tergiur dengan iming-iming kepuasan badaniah sesaat, melainkan memiliki pendirian yang teguh.

Menurut Immanuel Kant, otonomi merupakan sikap mendasar dalam diri manusia. Otonomi bersumber dari pengakuan kedirian. Karena itu sifatnya internal, muncul dari dalam setiap pribadi. Kebenaran bagi seorang yang otonom bersumber dari keyakinannya sendiri bahwa itu benar, bukan karena dikatakan orang lain bahwa itu benar. Namun, ini bukan berarti sikap otonom menafikan norma-norma, melainkan tetap menjadikannya bagian dari dasar pengambilan keputusan. Dengan demikian, bagi manusia otonom ada kesejajaran antara dimensi subyektif dan dimensi obyektif.

Dimensi subyektif adalah keyakinannya sendiri dan dimensi obyektif adalah sesuai dan sejalan dengan prinsip-prinsip atau norma etis yang berlaku di luar dirinya. Karakter ini perlu juga menjadi bagian dari pendidikan karakter kaum muda.

Keempat, karakter etis. Karakter ini terkait dengan karakter ketiga. Tekanan di sini adalah kebangkitan akan nilai-nilai moral di kalangan generasi muda. Kepada mereka diberikan modal yang kuat untuk mampu mempertimbangkan perbuatannya dari segi nilai-nilai. Ruang gerak agar karakter ini bisa tumbuh perlu tersedia, yakni kesempatan.

Bercermin dari Angkatan 28, kepedulian kita terhadap kaum muda semakin dituntut. Kepedulian bangsa ini terhadap mereka terwujud dalam substansi nilai-nilai yang dihidupkan di kalangan mereka sebagai dasar pembentukan karakter. Perhatian ini akan menentukan arah masa depan bangsa. Dengannya kita menyiapkan calon pemimpin bermutu di masa depan. Karena itu dalam refleksi Hari Sumpah Pemuda ini, Sumpah Mahasiswa Indonesia Reformasi 98, sebagaimana dikutip di awal tulisan ini, perlu menjadi dasar bagi pendidikan karakter generasi muda.

Kasdin Sihotang, Penulis adalah dosen Filsafat di FE dan staf inti PPE Unika Atma Jaya, Jakarta
Sumber: http://www.suarapembaruan.com/News/2007/10/27/index.html

Indonesia Harus Utamakan Pendidikan Karakter

BANDUNG, (PR).-
Pendidikan karakter dapat mengubah bangsa terjajah menjadi bangsa maju. Terbukti, Korea sebagai negara terjajah selama 30 tahun oleh Jepang, mampu bangkit menjadi negara pesaing Jepang dengan memberikan pendidikan karakter kepada bangsanya.

Demikian butir-butir pemikiran Prof. Dr. H. Asep Sjamsulbachri saat menyampaikan orasinya pada pengukuhan guru besar di Aula Universitas Pasundan (Unpas), Senin (28/5). Selain Prof. Asep, pada kesempatan itu, Rektor Unpas Prof. Dr. H.M. Didi Turmudzi, M.Si. mengukuhkan dua guru besar lainnya, yakni Prof. Dr. H.M. Surya (Guru Besar FKIP) dan Prof. H. Irawan Soeharto, M.S.W., D.S.W. (Guru Besar FISIP).

Asep memaparkan, pendidikan karakter diajarkan sejak usia SD kelas 1 dan 2 dengan materi meliputi proper life (hidup secara baik), wise life (hidup secara bijak), dan pleasant life (hidup secara menyenangkan).

Sedangkan pendidikan karakter sejak kelas 3 sampai kelas 10 diberikan dalam bentuk moral education (pendidikan moral), kelas 11 mendapat materi civil ethics (etika kewarganegaraan), dan kelas 12 mendapatkan materi ethics and thoughts (etika dan filsafat).

Selain Korea, kata Asep, Amerika sebagai kiblat dunia di segala bidang, justru sangat memerhatikan pendidikan karakter. Karena pendidikan karakter akan membawa anak didik ke pengenalan nilai secara kognitif, penghayatan nilai secara afektif, yang akhirnya pengalaman nilai secara nyata dari gnosis ke praktis.

“Untuk mencapai tataran praktis, ada peristiwa batin yang hebat dengan munculnya tekat untuk mengamalkan yang disebut conatio. Sedangkan langkahnya sampai ke arah situ disebut konatif yang oleh Phenix disebut sebagai voluntary personal commitment value,” terangnya.

Berdasarkan pendekatan antropologis, kata Asep, pendidikan semacam itu di Indonesia identik dengan pendidikan yang berakar pada nilai-nilai kearifan lokal (indegenous value). Yang oleh Presiden RI pertama Ir. Soekarno dikumandangkan dalam nation and character building agar bangsa Indonesia tidak menjadi bangsa terjajah.

”Pendidikan semacam ini sangat penting diberikan kembali kepada anak didik. Terutama ketika era globalisasi tidak lagi membedakan satu bangsa dengan bangsa yang lainnya,” ujar dia.

Dalam khazanah Sunda, lanjut Asep, pendidikan karakter bertolak dari kriteria guru yang disebut guru ratu wong atuo karo yang karakteristiknya disimbolkan kepada Astabrata yang memiliki sifat utama bumi, air, angin, api, matahari, bulan, bintang, dan lautan. (A-148)***

PERBAIKI MORAL BANGSA LEWAT SEKOLAH KARAKTER

Dr.Ir. Ratna Megawangi, M.Sc,:

Mitranetra, 24 May 2006
Pendidikan karakter dan akhlak yang baik selama ini kurang mendapat penekanan dalam system pendidikan di Negara kita. Pendidikan budipekerti hanyalah sebatas teori tanpa adanya refleksi dari pendidikan tersebut. Dampaknya, anak-anak tumbuh menjadi manusia yang tidak memiliki karakter, bahkan lebih buruk lagi menjadi generasi yang tidak bermoral. Pentingnya pendidikan karakter sedari dini telah menginspirasi Dr. Ir. Ratna Megawangi M.Sc, mempelopori sebuah system pendidikan yang menekankan pembentukan karakter dan akhlak bagi anak-anak Indonesia, melalui Yayasan Indonesia Heritage Foundation.

"Saya melihat pendidikan budi pekerti yang telah diberikan selama ini, baik dalam pelajaran PMP atau agama tidak berhasil, kalau tidak ingin dikatakan gagal total," ujar Ratna. Padahal, menurut dia, isi dari pelajaran-pelajaran tersebut bagus, namun sayangnya tidak membekas ke dalam prilaku manusianya. Ratna juga menegaskan bahwa untuk menjadi orang yang berkarakter memerlukan proses yang luar biasa, jadi tidak hanya sekedar yang diajarkan di sekolah atau di rumah.

Buruknya kondisi moral masyarakat pada masa reformasi tahun 1998 membuat pendiri dan Direktur Indonesia Heritage Foundation ini merasa prihatin. Pada masa pasca kerusuhan tersebut, Ratna menjelaskan, bangsa ini dipenuhi rasa marah, caci maki, curiga dan sebagainya. Keadaan itu membuat Ratna merasa yakin bahwa ada yang salah dengan pendidikan yang diterapkan selama ini. Sistem itu, menurut Ratna, tidak berhasil menanamkan bagaimana menjadi orang yang berkarakter baik.

Dari situ, pada tahun 2000, Ratna membuat suatu model pendidikan yang menjadi solusi terutama untuk membangun karakter generasi penerus. "Membangun karakter itu harus dimulai sedini mungkin, atau bahkan sejak dilahirkan, dan harus dilakukan secara terus menerus dan terfokus," jelas wanita yang masih aktif sebagai dosen di Institut Pertanian Bogor ini.

Ratna juga menjelaskan ada beberapa hal yang mendapat penekanan lebih dalam menerapkan model pendidikan karakter. Pertama, "Knowing the good. Untuk membentuk karakter, anak tidak hanya sekedar tahu mengenai hal-hal yang baik, namun mereka harus dapat memahami kenapa perlu melakukan hal tersebut. "Selama ini banyak orang yang tahu bahwa ini baik dan itu buruk, namun mereka tidak tahu alasannya apa dan masih terus melakukan hal-hal yang tidak baik, jadi masih ada gap antara knowing dan acting," ungkap Ratna.

Kedua, "Feeling the good". Konsep ini mencoba membangkitkan rasa cinta anak untuk melakukan perbuatan baik. Disini anak dilatih untuk merasakan efek dari perbuatan baik yang dia lakukan. "Jika Feeling the good itu sudah tertanam, itu akan menjadi "engine" atau kekuatan luar biasa dari dalam diri seseorang untuk melakukan kebaikan atau mengerem dirinya agar terhindar dari perbuatan negative," jelas Ratna lagi.

Hal ketiga yang coba ditumbuhkan adalah "Acting the good". Pada tahap ini, anak dilatih untuk melakukan perbuatan baik. Tanpa melakukan, apa yang sudah diketahui atau dirasakan oleh seseorang, tidak akan ada artinya. Jadi, selama ini di sekolah, Ratna melanjutkan, anak tidak dilatih untuk melakukan hal-hal yang baik. "Selama ini hanya himbauan-himbauan saja. Sementara, melakukan sesuatu yang baik itu harus dilatih, sehingga hal tersebut akan menjadi bagian dari kehidupan mereka," jelas istri Menteri Komunikasi dan Informatika ini.

Ketiga hal diatas harus dilatih secara terus menerus hingga menjadi kebiasaan. Jadi, konsep yang dibangun adalah habit of the mind, habit of the heart dan habit of the hands.

Di samping itu, pendidikan karakter juga mengembangkan semua potensi anak sehingga menjadi manusia seutuhnya. Dalam hal ini, perkembangan anak harus seimbang, baik dari segi akademiknya maupun segi sosial dan emosinya. Pendidikan selama ini hanya memberi penekanan pada aspek akademik saja dan tidak mengembangkan aspek social, emosi, kreatifitas, dan bahkan motorik. "Anak hanya dipersiapkan untuk dapat nilai bagus, namun mereka tidak dilatih untuk bisa hidup," ujar Ratna.

Dengan konsep tersebut, Indonesia Heritage Foundation membuat suatu model pendidikan yang memberi penekanan pada pembentukan karakter anak. Sekolah tersebut berada di daerah Cimanggis dan terdiri dari tingkat TK dan SD. Sekolah tersebut diperuntukkan bagi anak-anak dari kalangan menengah ke atas.

Namun, untuk menyebar luaskan model pendidikan karakter ini, Ratna juga mengembangkan TK yang berbasis masyarakat yang tersebar dibanyak daerah. TK informal ini diberi nama "Semai Benih Bangsa (SBB)". Sejauh ini, sudah ada sekitar 200 SBB yang tersebar di berbagai daerah di Indonesia, termasuk Aceh dan Papua.

Model yang digunakan di SBB persis sama dengan yang ada di sekolah karakter. Yang berbeda Cuma fasilitasnya. SBB bisa diadakan di garasi, teras rumah atau di mushalla. "Tujuan kami adalah agar anak-anak yang kurang mampu dapat mengecap pendidikan yang bermutu, sehingga pentingnya memberikan fondasi pada anak sejak dini dapat dilakukan," ungkap Ratna.

Guru-guru yang mengajar di SBB diambil dari masyarakat setempat. Mereka mendapat pelatihan di Jakarta dan ketika kembali mereka dibekali dengan paket atau modul pendidikan beserta alat Bantu yang bisa digunakan. Ratna juga tidak menutup kemungkinan bahwa model yang sudah dibuat ini dapat dicontoh oleh sekolah-sekolah lain.

Dalam berbuat sesuatu, pasti ada harapan yang ingin dicapai . Ratna, dengan pendidikan karakter yang dikembangkannya ini, berharap ingin membentuk bangsa yang berkarakter, "Karakter adalah kunci utama sebuah bangsa untuk bisa maju. Kita kaya dengan resources, sumber daya alam kita banyak sekali, tapi kalau karakter orang-orangnya tidak benar, tidak jujur,tidak mau kerja keras, tidak mau tanggung jawab, tidak mandiri, kita tidak akan maju," tutur Ratna mengakhiri pembicaraannnya.

 
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