Monday, May 20, 2019

ACADEMIC ENDEAVOURS

After 25 years working and learning in cultural heritage field, I feel an urge to contemplate what I have been doing and learning. To give a structure to my contemplation, I have sent my ideas to University of Leiden. They responded very positively in a very short notice. Before I knew, I have received a student card, welcomed to various facilities and received academic guidance to sharpen my ideas. 

It feels great to find out that an academic institution is accessible for a field worker like me. I like school that is open minded and gives freedom for everyone to develop. Education is supposed to be that way.

There are two books that influenced me about education system. First is Deschooling Society (1970) written by Ivan Illich. This book critized education institutionalization in modern society. Schools can be dangerous for creativity development. The second is Toto Chan, the Little Girl at the Window (1981) by Tetsuko Kuronayagi. It is about unconventional education experienced by the writer herself. 

My own mother didn't go to formal school, she didn't write and read her whole life I think. Few occasions I saw her read and write documents with difficulties, part because of age, part because she hardly did them. She also warned her children, especially me, of not too much reading because reading is a passive way of learning. "You should learn from practices, from real life,"she said many times. Luckily she went out everyday so I could read books freely especially outside school schedule. Nevertheless, she was very proud when she attended my bachelor graduation in Bandung. Now I am getting older,  I start to understand what she has meant by learning from practices and real life.  It was not that she prevented me from learning, what she meant was to be observance of facts and realities. School system in old days Indonesia, at least the schools I attended, could prevent children from being brave and unique due to requirement to be uniformed in all senses, physically and mentally. Uniqueness was rare those days. 

I never had difficulties in schools. I enjoyed friendships. But when I grew up and attended universities, I started to be unhappy at schools. Universities are so segregated into faculties and specializations without too much freedom for combination and crossing diciplines. I think I passed my bachelor and masters degrees with relatively a lot of confusions in my mind. I loved journalism but I studied social welfare. I like cultural heritage but I studied regional planning. I taught myself to be an autodidact. I went to as many journalistic courses as my obligated classes at social welfare. I went to hundred conferences and trainings of cultural heritage more than my classes at regional planning. At the end, the universities were sort of legitimation, on papers, of fractions of my interests. They tell only parts of my history, my interests and my capabilities. I am glad I have gone to schools, though, because in this world, we all need papers. It is part of a game. 

This time I come back to school with full awareness of my rights and obligations. Yes, some parts will be administrations, but hopefully most parts are joys, enthusiasms and passions. At my age, I don't need a new academic title. I don't go to school to waste my life. I go to school to receive inspirations and cognitive sparring partners. 


No comments: