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Monday, November 16, 2009

Why Sinetrons?

“Ma’am, why does my Mom like watching sinetrons on television?”
An ex student of mine asked me this question several weeks ago via chatbox on FB. Instead of giving him direct answer, I asked him to think first,
“Why do you think?”
He was somewhat annoyed perhaps coz I even returned the question to him.
“I need your answer, based on your perspective. I don’t know the answer, that’s why I asked you about that.” he said. LOL.
Well, he was in my SPEAKING 5 class many years ago. As far as I remember, in such classes, I could give any topic to be discussed in the classroom. You can guess of course I exposed my feminist perspective when discussing things in the class.
“I want to hear your idea first, then, I will tell you what I am thinking.” I said.
But he was adamant. LOL. He wanted to hear my opinion.
And I insisted to know his opinion first.
Like teacher like student? LOL.
Unfortunately, some minutes later, he disappeared.

The following day he popped up in the chatbox again, and said, “Ma’am, I have found the answer.”
“Ok. Shoot!” I responded.
“It is because the stories are very interesting and make the viewers curious what will be going on in the continuation. That is what my Mom said when I asked her about it.”
I laughed to hear that. I didn’t laugh at him nor his Mom. Not at all.
Well, if the answer is like that, well, everybody knows, I guess.
“Anything behind that?” I inquired.
He didn’t give me a satisfying answer, but just, “Well, if my Mom thinks as complicatedly as you do, she will not just be a housewife. She will be a lecturer, like you.” he whined. LOL.
However, before I told him my opinion, he disappeared. Until now we haven’t had time to continue this discussion. Therefore, I am writing this. :-)
I remember my time when I was only a housewife. Long long time ago!!! I spent many hours a day to watch TV too. I watched telenovela, such as Maria Mercedez, Marimar, etc. So I think the first reason why many housewives watch sinetrons is because they have plenty of spare time. The second – perhaps this is even the main reason – many mere housewives don’t have lots of things to think, to contemplate, to maximize the use of their brain. They need to find something to think, to contemplate, and even then to discuss together with their neighbors.
People who often use their brain while working will not have much spare space in their brain to think of any other things, such as those themes or stories of sinetrons.
The third reason is perhaps people need to see something to be pitied, so that they will not feel so miserable in their life.
The fourth, people need to escape from their real life.
Anybody else wanna add? You are certainly welcome.

N.B.: Perhaps he is right, I think too complicatedly. LOL.
PT56 21.59 151109

Nosy Workmates

How do you behave towards your workmates?

Well, I believe some (or maybe many) people have workmates as their good (or even best) friends. The easily seen reason is because we meet them everyday (or five till six days a week) so that they easily find ‘click’ among them.

Recently I rarely have such an experience. (If you refer to my post entitled ‘happiness’ where I wrote some special people who have colored my life, I mentioned some good friends, such as Ekani, Juli, Merry and Detta. I used to work with the first three girls in the same place, in one uni. Detta used to work in the English course where I have been working since 1996.) However, recently I don’t have workmates who are my best friends. Those from the English course are friendly, nice, and sweet although I choose to behave ‘my business is mine, yours is yours.” However, I will lend my ears if anyone of them wants to confide in me.

But when talking about workmates I have in my other workplace, I have different stories. I am new in this office. (I started working there last academic year.) My ‘multiple personalities disorder’ made my aloof character exposed since the very beginning I worked there. The mere reason was just I was new, and I had to find out first what kinds of characteristics my workmates had. Absolutely it was okay for me since this was also me, the aloof Nana. (FYI, my other personality is the happy-go-lucky cyclist.)

A year has passed. I am still the same aloof Nana. You can guess why. I mind my own business; I NEVER mind anybody else’s business. I do my best for my job (so I thought), transferring knowledge I store in my brain with students, build a conducive atmosphere in the classrooms so that students easily get the lesson I give.

So what do you think I should do when out of the blue two workmates shockingly comments on the red lipstick I put on my lips everyday? What’s wrong with that? (I easily guess some nosy and fussy workmates speak behind me.)

What do you think I should do when out of the blue a workmate thinks I am too isolated from the others because I am busy doing bla bla bla => a very heartless and nosy accusation. (I even don’t have a heart to write it here. Just relate it with my being single-parent.)
I do wish I could punch her nose and kick her ass!!!

PT56 19.58 151109

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Pursuit of Happyness

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, …”
(The Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson)

Obviously Chris Gardner, the main character in the movie entitled “The Pursuit of Happyness”, a film by Gabriele Muccino was really obsessed by what Jefferson wrote—that all men are endowed the right to pursue happiness. The movie inspired by a true story has Will Smith as Chris Gardner, Thandie Newton as Linda, and Jaden Christopher Syre Smith as Christopher, their son.

When watching the movie, I was touched by the big belief of Gardner that he was really endowed that right. Everybody deserves to be happy and everybody has their own way to pursue their happiness, no matter their color, the gender, the ethnic group, the religion, etc. Therefore, everybody must strive to reach it.

Linda also believes in it. When she thinks that her husband cannot make her happy in their marriage, she has her own way to pursue her own happiness—by leaving her husband whom she thinks impotent to look for money. She is tired of being poor, having to work hard—double shift—to pay the bills while in the beginning of their marriage, she is promised happiness by her husband; happiness that she thinks without financial constraint, without her having to work double shift.

When leaving her husband, she takes Christopher with her. In America, children under 18 years old are to follow the mother when the parents are separated or divorced. However, when the following morning Chris takes Christopher from the day care, Linda doesn’t complain a lot. She does understand that Chris is a good father, only he is not really good in looking for money. That’s why when she leaves for New York to start a new life—her sister’s boyfriend opens a restaurant, Linda expects a better future there—she doesn’t mind leaving Christopher with his dad although she feels very unhappy.

Big determination of Chris to pursue his happiness—always remember what Jefferson writes in the Declaration of Independence—makes Chris do his best to reach his dream, not only for himself of course, but the more important thing is his only son. This is somewhat the reflection of his own life where he met his father for the first time when he was 28 years old. He feels very unhappy for that, and this makes him determined that if he has children, his children would know who their father is.

The story happened during the last two decades of the twentieth century. I am wondering whether Chris would get that position in the brokerage firm of Dean Witter—that miraculously changed his life—if the story had happened when Jim Crow Law still haunted America?

PT56 21.28 220807

From being a student to being a teacher

What is school? Well, when the first time I hear the word ‘school’, I illustrate a building where children as well as teenagers wear uniform when going there, to study about something with older people they call ‘teacher’. It is a place that perhaps can inspire younger people to have good future with the knowledge they gather. It is also a place where younger people learn to socialize with one another. Some people called teachers maybe succeed in enchanting their students in their way of teaching so that they inspire those younger people to be in the same shoes.
Perhaps many people become teachers because they are inspired by their previous teachers. However, I am not in that path: I became a teacher accidentally. Luckily I did not graduate from a Teachers College either. When the first time I worked as a teacher in 1994, I did not try remembering how my previous teachers did when teaching; I just did trial and error. LOL. Therefore when someone asked me which experience as a student of mine that contributed to my teaching, I could not give a satisfying answer, I believe.
In 1996 I got a training to be a teacher in one English course where I have been working since then. I learned five important stages teachers needed to do in their classroom:
1. Motivating Strategies  before teaching the material in that session, Teacher (T) needs to motivate Students (Ss) to be ready with the topic to be discussed. In this first stage, both Teacher and Students participate actively.
2. Presentation  this is the most important part for Teacher because he or she presents the material. T is active while Students listen passively. However, of course Ss can ask when they think they need more explanation.
3. Skills Practice  Students must be very active in this third stage while T watches Ss to perform their understanding from T during Presentation stage. T gives help whenever necessary.
4. Review  this stage is not always important to be included in every session; only when T thinks that Ss need to understand more before they do the last activity.
5. Assessment  in this stage, T lets Ss do the assignment by themselves. This stage can be called as the climax since Ss have to perform their best to show that they really grasp the main idea of the lesson.
When attending this course, I got an idea that T has a very important role to make the class enjoyable or boring (especially in language class) with some requirements: first, it is not really a big class, only consists of not more than fifteen students, second, it is not a children class (under twelve years old); their level is either Basic or Intermediate, not Advanced.
In Indonesia, most people study English because they want to be able to speak English fluently. Therefore it is very understandable if ‘speaking’ class is always more enjoyable than ‘writing’ class. In ‘writing’ the class can be boringly quiet. LOL.
Since I did not graduate from Teachers College, this training helped me a lot. I paid attention to any single thing the trainers did. However, again, I don’t think that what they did contribute to my way of teaching, except the material I got and one thing: the mood of T in front of the class influences the class atmosphere a lot. In other words I can say that to be a teacher, someone must be a good actor too. LOL.
Talking about a favorite teacher, mm … well, I am not sure if I have one. However, I can mention some teachers that perhaps will always be on my mind:
1. An English teacher I had when I was in senior high school. I majored in ‘language’ back then. I liked her perhaps because she was teaching English, my favorite subject at school. One important trait to be possessed by a teacher that I learned from her is to be patient. It does not necessarily mean that my other teachers were not patient. Again, it is because ‘luckily’ she was teaching English, my favorite subject. LOL. She also encouraged the female students she had to be economically independent; not to be (financially) dependent on the husband all the time. FYI, at that time her husband was one rector in one university in my hometown.
2. Two guest lecturers I got when I pursued my study at American Studies Graduate Program at Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia. They performed vast and deep knowledge about the materials they conveyed. Reading a lot to enrich their knowledge about any materials they teach is very important.
From the two aforementioned paragraphs, it can be concluded that for me, three most important features from a teacher are: first, to be patient; second, to be able to encourage Ss to do something positive; third, to be an avid reader.
Nevertheless, I believe that successful learning needs the strongest will from the learner himself/herself. Many people go to school with various reasons. In my own opinion, I have done my best to teach, but still I find some unwilling students in my class. They are all teenagers, mostly boys, around fourteen to seventeen years old. I observe the main reason for them to go to school is because they just do what their parents ask them to do, perhaps to get pocket money and to spend time in one ‘best place out of undesired other places’.
One greatest thing of mine to be a teacher, of course, is when I succeed in making my students understand how important knowledge is for their future. Therefore, I am always happy when knowing my ex students become teachers, like me.
PT56 19.00 011109

P.S. : I wrote this article to answer a best friend's 'homework' :)