In Defense of My Sisters and I

So, while I was working on my assignment, I encounter this interesting article about the current Indonesia’s ideology written by Paul K Gellert :

with the following abstract :

Based on ethnographic field research conducted in Jakarta, this article argues that there is a new ideology of development in Indonesia that is cosmopolitan, nostalgic and individualist. To understand the new ideology, a historical sociological perspective is taken to examine the nationalist period of anti-colonial struggle, the state developmentalist period of Soeharto’s New Order, and the neoliberal period since 1998. Two interrelated arguments are made. First, the ideology of development in Indonesia has changed from earlier nationalist understandings of Pancasila to a cosmopolitan neoliberal ideology based in a nostalgic nationalism. Second, a modernist Islamic perspective on secularism and Islam both supports and is supported by this ideological shift. These arguments are illuminated through two examples of the advance of cosmopolitan neoliberal ideology: optimism and education. Optimism is focused on individual integrity to redress Indonesia’s problems with corruption. Education is offered by optimists as the escalator to development. Empirically, the Indonesia Mengajarprogramme of sending young university graduates to teach elementary school in remote parts of the country is examined for its neo-modernisationist assumptions. The article concludes that this dominant ideology abandons earlier solidaristic forms of nationalism and holds little hope for addressing the vast structural inequalities in Indonesia.

That is an interesting argument. I could not resist myself to read the article, and I did so by telling myself that this is to add more argument in my soon-to-be-submitted essay.

This article is interesting because I happen to be involved in a similar youth movement, Forum Indonesia Muda. In which we are a bunch of youngsters, who are ready to ‘change’ Indonesia, or, something along the lines. Doing so through volunteering, entrepreneurship, sociopreneurship, serving the country (wait, at this point I just realised something. Why being ‘a good decision maker’ do not make it to the list of high quality (jomblo, mostly) Indonesian citizen, while it is an important aspect of democratic society? Hmm…..). Meanwhile my sister is Local Ambassador for Environemnt and Aluh Sisit (basically, it means Miss for Traditional Fabric), she did some social stuff that I did not tracked on, hut the bottom line is that she’s doing community/social contribution.

And Gellert claimed that we are neolib and cosmopolitan now, attempted for change in the top down manner, forgetting the gotong royong solidaristic aspect of Indonesian life that we used to have. But most important, he implied that Indonesian are currently delusional if we are hoping that education and optimism could bring Indonesia for the better.

Well,  the way I see it he wrote a lot, but not so much that he could address a more complex situation in Indonesia.

I realised that I am a privileged person as I kept defending my position and realised that I made politically incorrect responses to that.  This is the only thing that I could and should say I guess:

If seeing Indonesia as a nation, the thing that it needs now is optimism and education. To be optimistic for a better tomorrow, in which it could only exist if we got a proper education. Only after there are enough educated people who understand what is right and what is left in the world, people, as in the real current educated society, ‘not only the or founding fathers’ could understand what Pancasila is all about… Because all of the knowledge could only be attained through expensive universities with expensive books and journal subscription. Even when the materials existed for free, we need guidance for the first step on being critical, something that we could only get from a high-quality education, or free educational aid. Was not the movement for science literacy in England in the past involved the middle class who was ‘geeky’ enough to share their knowledge? And was not the working class have thier own motivation to taught themself on science knowledge. I see it the same way.

Damn this reminds me of Snowpiercer movie. You can only know the truth if you get to the front compartment. With blood and tears.

And about the elitist attitude, it is the side effect of unfinished medicinal (education) treatment or the result of ‘the right’ prescription.

Oh and by the way, I’ve seen some young Indonesians with integrity. I’ve also seen a more young Indonesian who only cares about watches, Instagram followers and acknowledgement. That’s why I said that he’s  not writing as much to be able to address Indonesian. Who? Is it the Gen X, Baby Boomers, the twenties ( yes, I refuse to call my generation as Milleni*ls, we don’t need labels like the oldies we hardly homogenous).

This is super not academic and defensive comment from me. Sooo, peace out !


Too Left That We’re Left Behind, or, A Slice of Master Student’s Life

I met Dorothy yesterday who just returned from Indonesia to take her Ph.D. in UCL Institute of Education. We catch up each other stories until we somehow end up talk about why IoE, which labelled as the best university in education in the world, went bankrupt.

Dorothy told me that her professor told her and other students that “we’re too left that we’re left behind”. This statement is very interesting for me as IoE master student because I did not even realise the ‘left’ vibe of the institution.

Call me shallow, but it really is the truth. I thought what they have been given us students is simply the ‘latest’ development in education field, or, specifically ‘science education’ world. Because they always managed to present both sides of the story. I thought that I choose to be like ‘this’. By ‘this’ I mean: I teach science, but I don’t think it is the only way to search for the truth. I believe that everything is built on a certain perspective, which I would argue that however right it has on predicting some stuff, which prediction could still be wrong. Science is simply one model that could be replaced by another model if some transformation of perspective is needed. For example, mechanical physics to quantum physics.

However, I remember several days ago I read an article stating that evolution is a fact. The article went all the way explaining how the word ‘fact’ is used in science. A claim could be wrong, but only to a very small degree that people could just ignore it. Well, that was convincing.

But then I met Eleanor today. My classmate in Foundation of Science Education course. We talked about our latest assignment and she chose to take a stand on the philosophy of science, and criticise Bernstein for his Baconian view of science, claiming that it is out of dates (agree). Somehow I managed to slip what Dorothy said to me to her, and told her that maybe we all from science education MA has been unconsciously indoctrinated by the institution. I liked her response.

‘Well, that’s good. I’m a hard left. I’m always left.’ And surprisingly, she told me something about her view of the word ‘facts’ in science. For her, ‘fact’ in science is not really a ‘fact’ because the way the word is used in science is different. There is always a little possibility for it to be wrong, and that has been ignored for so long. On this remark, I cannot help myself to remember the discovery of our solar system planets.  Scientists in the past ignored ‘problem’ with Newton’s equation, claiming some case to be exceptional.

On this remark, I cannot help myself to remember the discovery of our solar system planets.  Scientists in the past ignored ‘problem’ with Newton’s equation, claiming some case to be exceptional. However, when Einstein proposed to think about physics in a different model than Newton, only then the exceptional cases could be explained without making new equations, or another ‘exceptional’ case. This story shows that scientists ignorance and claim of facts blinded them. Thanks to Einstein who refuse to accept other scientists’ agreed facts and made a new model of science which managed to explain the world better. The point of this rambling is, it is important to cautiously use or accept what is claimed to be a ‘fact’.

The point of this rambling is that I come to a conclusion: it is important to cautiously using and accepting what is claimed to be a ‘fact’. And for me, this is also a sign, a moment of realisation, that I have been accepting the idea of me not being ‘blinded’ by ‘science fact’ anymore, that I have been ‘enlightened’, unlike the scientists. This is so clear because as you see, I have been exposed to two definitions of the word ‘fact’ in science which actually have no difference except the ‘ignoring’ part.

Well, I know that I prefer not to ignore the small probability of science to be wrong, which clearly shows that I might now have become a hipster as well. I don’t know to what extent that this actually comes from my own belief and values, but thanks to my institution, now I get this far.