English Course and Character Building

By FAIZ MANSHUR.

The essence of education is character building. Good characters will fix the situation, intelligence or skill can come next. With good characters, we can put much hope in the development of the students into a broader direction.



English course in Pota Houzz Cimenyan, Bandung is the right effort to do that. We have seen good results within just one year of taking the course. What is the good thing about joining an English course? Speaking fluency? No!

At first, this English course is started based on a few strategic reasons. Seeing the low interest of learning in the village residents because of cultural factors, we started our approach on students. It was hard to engage the children in the village of Pasir Impun in learning literature. What they want was tutoring but in the end, they gave their homework to their tutors. Looking at the situation, we started to think of the solution.

We still paid attention to their school work but we also thought about their mentality which was not well conditioned. School was still very outdated and their parents could not be their tutor in school related things yet. That was the reason why one of their main school problems is homework.

Many students were interested in learning English because they like talking rather than reading. They enjoy singing, learning new vocabularies and knowing new things together in a happy environment. This made it possible for the tutors to teach new things, including the responsibility in doing their homework. Fun learning is a magical word for students, especially if we add gifts into the equation. English course is also interesting because it is easy to give them reasons why they should learn English. If one asks why we should be fluent in speaking English, we could say it’s because we are connected to internet on daily basis and it would be a waste if we can only read the sites in Indonesian while most of the things on internet are in English.

But the most important thing in Pota Houzz’s success in teaching the importance of learning is its concept of participation. The children were not burdened, forced nor scared. The weak ones are protected and the strong ones must have solidarity and help each other.
An important change in why the children study more diligently is the parents feel the good impacts on a daily basis in a short period of time. They encourage their children to go to the course for several reasons. First, they get prizes on certain months. Second, they get the reassurance because the non-educative games that their children used to play are changed to educative ones. The most noticeable impact is shown on everyday life, such as cleanness, eating schedule and time management.

After a year of tutoring the children of the village that is far from the advance of technology, Odesa Indonesia Foundation that followed the process of Pota Houzz believes that, “No parents want their children to not study. There is no need to presume that children in villages are lazy in terms of learning.” Conditioning determines the speed of changes that happen. The success of tutoring the children in Pasir Impun was tested in other village. Located 3 Km away, in the hills of Batu Templek, Odesa Indonesia opened an English course in the Odesa’s office. The target of students was 10 people, but we could handle up to 20 people. Unexpectedly, there were 96 students applying and the number kept increasing until week 5 of opening.

This was incredible. The parents, from farmer and working class, encouraged their children to study. The believed up because of the good news they have heard. 1) Free course. 2) The children in Pasir Impun always told them about the fun learning. 3) The parents also told them the good changes that their children have made after a year of joining the course.

Every lesson in teaching English is not focused on the speaking fluency since we only have class once a week which, of course, would be very hard to compare to students in big cities, especially those who go to expensive schools with luxurious facilities, have financially capable parents and well nurtured.

Imagination and Mental
Odesa Indonesia English Course for village children doesn’t pursue that as target. We see it as a humanitarian work process to build people to be aware of their life purpose. That is why the first lesson is to open their imagination about dreams, life conditions, future and variety of professions.

Moreover, there is one important thing in this process of fixing human resources, which is life equality. The village children realize the importance of working together and solidarity. Living in village culture is not always a good thing, despite the strong claim of their mutual cooperation. Village also has problem about the narrow mindset of their parents who unconsciously spread their anti-solidarity to their children. Arrogance, pretentiousness and elitism are not just for the elite or the riches. They were also the problems of village children, even the low incomes.

There is also the importance of developing confidence in the children who always think little of themselves and don’t have a good public speaking skill. It was all changed by the lessons. The implementation can be flexible, depending on the needs. It is possible for children from low incomes families, especially those who come from broken homes to have a narrow mindset, weak mentality and be far from independence. Their potentials could be wasted forever if we don’t do anything about it. This mentality because of cultural problems must be solved during teenage years. It is not a difficult process and it would only take two to three months to do. What they need is empathy, by giving them the chance to joke around, to laugh, to say their problems. What a beautiful social work. Faiz Manshur (Translated by Portalkata Indonesia)

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