Not Everybody’s Cup of Tea

I began my teaching journey as a complete blank, knowing nothing about teaching. I didn't take any teaching course, I didn't go to teaching academy, I didn't undergo any teaching workshop. None.

I walk in the path of 'giving', knowing that teaching is mostly to share what knowledge the teachers have. I have to study at nights, about what I am going to teach the day after. More, if possible. Many more, about the extended topics. So I can share more to my students, not only what has been written on the textbook (then I can just ask them to read without listening to me, right?). And share my own experience if any.

And one day, a dear friend of mine 'caught' me in the middle of the night, bombarding me with such intriguing questions and question me -the so-called teacher-, "What are you doing, Ta?". I got dumbfounded.

Yes, what am I doing? I should have prepared my students to face the wild world, when there will be jobs that not even exist nowadays. "It's not the science or knowledge that will prepare them best. It's their attitude, the value! Knowledge is changing. Science is renewing. But their inner side will guide them at the right path."

That feels like a slap on my face. Dare he to point at my nose and said, "Apa-apaan lo diskriminatif kaya gitu? Tenaga pendidik kaya begini, mau jadi apa negeri ini?". I really wanted to punch him at that time. But as the conversation went deeper, I found that he truly meant to help me. To rediscover what's supposed to be my goal.

That what matters the most is not the flying colors, not trophies, not how vast the knowledge the students can achieve. It's the value. Yes, it is mostly clear that smart is just not enough. Smart gets you to a school or a workplace. But what holds one there in a strong bargaining position is the attitude.

It's the consistency, when my students asked, "In what effort do they study?", in respond to the ITB and UI announcement in last few days where many 12th graders have already admitted to.

It's the attitude, if you ever wonder why low-grade students got helped by teachers and given the second (or third or fourth) chance for something. Which one you prefer? A smart yet so arrogant student or a just-mediocre yet has a very good attitude toward people (not only teachers)?

So I switch from tutor-like to teacher-like (I'm not a good teacher yet, I'm just still trying to mimic one). I switch from "I don't care what you do, just do my exam well" to "I care what you do and do my exam well".

Here is the case. Some of my students didn't attend the lab work. I have two choices: 1. I don't care too much. I'll just leave the score blank for practical work. None of my business. If the parents asked, I'll just show them the attendance record. Open for anybody. 2. I'll leave the score blank and demand them to make a consent letter, signed by their parents. They will not be allowed to attend my class before the letter (and a paper work) had been submitted.

You can guess which option I take. Clearly, I took option 2. It's not that I'm happy to throw out students. I am NOT happy when there are still 2 of them not getting back to my class. Though it is still easy if their parents made a complaint later. I have every piece documented well. Just give them the facts.

I am not happy to see disappointed faces, though I clearly am not happy either to see a slight 'bodo amat, mending bolos daripada di kelas elu' face.

I felt a bit discouraged. I was annoyed. Worried. I said to my husband, "I'm sure they won't like this. I know I can't be everyone's favorite. I do have the option which might be a happier one than this". He replied, "Do you want to be a teacher or an idol?". Check mate.

A teacher's got to do what a teacher's gotta do. I am a teacher, am not a tutor. No offense, tutors. It's just tutors don't get blamed as hard as teachers do when something goes wrong with the student (so where's exactly the parents' position, eh?).

So, skipping students (yes, I know you're skipping my class, I saw you), think again. It's for your sake. Not mine. I can simply ignore you. So what? I would enjoy students who want to listen to me anyway rather than having stray minds.

But teaching's not about it. I'm going to call your parents. And am not giving you makeup class or makeup test (or quiz or whatever). Period.


  1. fisto

    April 11, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    absolutely agree on what you are going to do. go lita go!…. 😀

  2. soleman

    April 11, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    i agree w/ ur opinion. Smart n attitude must balance. I think youth has different development. Become mature on youth is better, but it need process success n fail. Teachers should be patient. n they should
    teach their children suitable w/ the era..

  3. iway

    April 13, 2009 at 11:10 am

    yeah! selalu ada aja ‘pengacau’ di tiap generasi dengan pembelaannya masing-masing, waktu membuktikan bahwa hanya ada penyesalan dan penyesalan karena melewatkan golden age alias waktu belajar di sekolah *point to myself*
    2 thumbs to you mam 😀

  4. Tyas

    April 13, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Waktu ke Tanjung Lesung baru2 ini, aku terpaksa terus-menerus memberi peringatan, bahkan marah, karena sebagian anak buang sampah sembarangan. Aku jadi bertanya-tanya, apa di rumah ga diajari soal kebersihan? Apa di rumah selalu ada bibik dan mamang yang siap membersihkan rumah, membereskan kamar, memunguti sampah?

    Tugas guru makin penting sekarang karena, maaf aja, banyak ortu yang makin melalaikan tugas mendidik putra-putri mereka. Aku sering berhadapan sama ortu yang anaknya bandel, malas, tukang bolos, prestasi jelek, tapi mereka tak tahu-menahu. Malah sebagian di antaranya waktu diberi tahu kelakuan anaknya malah meradang, membantah. “Anak saya baik!”

    Tahu darimana? Ketemu aja jarang. Rapot tak diambil, rapat ortu tak dihadiri. Alasannya ortu kan sibuk. Cukuplah anak dikompensasi dengan harta. Jalan dimuluskan dgn uang. Biar diurus pembantu.

    Tapi ada juga ortu yang tegas bilang, “Saya masukin anak saya ke sini juga supaya dia berdisiplin.” Ada pula ortu yang sudah senang melihat anaknya punya banyak teman di sekolah meski hasil pelajarannya tak terlalu cemerlang. “Anak saya dulu punya masalah bersosialisasi. Saya senang, sekarang dia punya teman.”

    1. Lita

      April 14, 2009 at 11:50 am

      *long sigh*
      Not much different here.
      I might just ask them to tidy things up before I start my class.

      Senang ya kalo ketemu ortu yang tegas, jelas apa maunya, mengerti perannya, dan memahami tugas bagian masing-masing. Good partnership. Ortu dambaan guru ^^

  5. Joseph White

    April 14, 2009 at 11:19 am


    so that’s the background of the “sudden lecture” u told us yesterday…
    *wipes tears*

    1. Lita

      April 14, 2009 at 11:44 am

      Yes. Next time won’t be so boring. I’ll just kick asses out of my class.

      1. joseph white

        April 14, 2009 at 9:11 pm

        whoa..I should be prepared…
        *glues shield on the butt*

  6. zizima

    April 17, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Habis baca ini jadi inget zaman kulh dulu (setahun lalu siih)
    Sewaktu masih kuliah, pernah merasakan jadi asisten dosen. Agak berasa ‘gimana’ kalo ada mahasiswa yang seolah menantang untuk adu ilmu.. Ternyata, jadi asdos bukan hanya ilmunya aja yang diadu. tapi sikapnya juga musti bagus.. yang namanya asdos tetep dianggap sebagai asdos meski ketemunya di jalan atau di pasar sekalipun..

  7. nYam

    April 21, 2009 at 2:21 am

    sampe sekarang aku juga ga habis pikir, gimana bisa ortuku bertahun-tahun ngadepin murid dengan segala kelakuannya? as if empat anak ga cukup musingin 😀


    May 13, 2009 at 5:56 am

    yes, why our country has been the developing country for so long time is about the attitude. But, I think, the student attitude is not just the teacher’s bussiness. More than it, the parent is who have responsibility for it at the first.

    1. Lita

      May 13, 2009 at 3:16 pm

      Can’t agree more, mbak Fety 🙂

      In this case, I’m trying to ‘blame’ myself first. Get myself to tidy up, do things better, plan better, prepare better, aim for the best and after all things I can gently pat my self in the shoulder, “Should anything goes wrong with the student, it’s not your fault. You’ve given every little piece in you for them.” 🙂

      And of course, try to communicate better with parents. But usually parents don’t come to any particular teacher except homeroom teacher and teachers of particular subject which the student has difficulty (i.e. below average score) :p

  9. mariskova

    June 22, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Sometimes parents want teachers to care about their children. Sad to say, it’s difficult to care if the parents themselves don’t care about their own children.

    It’s not popular to be a teacher, so why the hell am I still doing it?

    1. Lita

      June 22, 2009 at 7:48 pm

      I’m very much agree with you, mbak.
      Teachers are demanded to care. And it IS hard to care if the parents are less cooperative, moreover if the parents don’t think that there’s nothing wrong with their children at all 🙂

      It’s never be popular, eh? Not in Indonesia, I think.

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