My Utopia: An Empathic Intelligence Zone

Since the education system in Indonesia tends to focus on standardization such as national examination which is students have to achieve the minimum score 4,25 in Math, Science, and English subject, and get certain score to enter the next education level, I am envisioning that the education sector become more focused on students’ outcomes. Even though the government start to apply the outcomes based education assessment in the classroom level, but it still based on the content which is known as traditional outcomes based education (Spady & Marshall, 1991). Furthermore, in the national level, government still apply the standardize assessment. As a result, students’ views learning as memorizing and teachers’ views teaching as transferring. Furthermore, based on my experiences as a learner and an educator, I recognize that the cognitive ability of students in Indonesia is more developed compared to their affective ability. Therefore, if I teach in the classroom, the students could answer and remember the subject, but if I asked them to discuss, give opinion, and think critically, the class will be silent, even in the university level. Furthermore, most science Olympiads, Indonesian student became a winner. for example, “Yosua, a 15-year old student from Yogyakarta State High School 3, is not only a top academic amongst his peers, he is also the winner of the International Junior Science Olympiad 2005 who succeeded in achieving a top score of 92.25 points, eliminating 329 other contestants from 34 countries” (Indonesian Mediawatch, 2006). This education system also influenced me as a leaner. Therefore, since I came at SMEC, I struggle to adjust with different style of teaching and learning such as transformative learning and art based education. I found these approaches help me to understand myself as a learner and encourage me to be the better person as an individual and as a professional. I realize that is how the learning process should be.

Based on my analysis above on the several problems of education process in Indonesia, I imagining my pedagogic utopia under the “empathic intelligence zone” which allows me to engage with my students, reflect on my teaching, and self-understanding. According to Arnold (2005, p.19), empathic intelligence is a sustained system of psychic, cognitive, affective, social, and ethical functioning” which derived self awareness, reflection, engagement, dynamic, enthusiasm, intelligent caring, self development and others. As a teacher, empathic intelligence will attribute my teaching practice as passion, regressive and development states, full interactions, attutenement, introspection, and heartfelt imagination (Arnold, 2005). As a result, under the empathic intelligence zone, I wish that I could shape my teaching as meaningful and evocative experiences which help my students to be a holistic individual.

Empathic Intelligence and Curriculum Development

Empathic intelligence zone needs a curriculum which is “based on the best contemporary theories of intellectual, emotional, aesthetic and social development” (Arnold, 2005, p.148). It favours a curriculum which cooperates with interpersonal relationships, development of self awareness, self development, engagement, and personal experiences. Emphatic intelligence will mobilize my teaching into the transformative learning which personalized experiences are central to deep learning. The deep learning will help my students understand that the learning is not only memorizing but also transforming their capability as individual.

My Ideal Curriculum

The empathic intelligence zone helps me to create my ideal curriculum. I remember the activity of “mapping my actual and preferred curriculum image”. At that time, I predict that the differences will be like running on the earth and flying on the sky, is it possible?. At the same time, I still struggle in the wave of each curriculum metaphor. It was really challenging, confusing, and “electrifying” journey for me, it jolted me out of my passive, compliant state of mind.

Under the border of standardized system which de-values my idealism as a teacher, my soul as a teacher encourages me to be more powerful. I apprehend that dreaming could be a powerful step to empower me to do the improvement for others and myself. Therefore, through using several curriculum images, I expect that my dream in empathic intelligence zone could be more powerful and envisioning.

Curriculum as Experience and Currere

Since I explore more curriculum images, I chose curriculum as experience and currere to help me to create the empathic intelligence zone. Curriculum as experience and currere are related to each other in the process of reconstruction of self and others. According to Pinar (1975) as cited in Pinar (2004), curriculum as currere related to “academic knowledge and life history in the interest of self understanding and social reconstruction” (p.35) which has four steps which are regressive, progressive, analytical, synthesis. According to Doll (2002), currere orientation is on the reflection and transformation of personal experience. Moreover related to experience, currere refers to reconceptualise and exploring existential individual life experiences (Schubert 1986; Ornstein & Hunkins, 2004; Print, 1993; Lovat & Smith, 1993). Therefore, in pedagogic practices, students could use their autobiography to evaluate their experiences, think about future, analysis both past and future, and create the people that they want to be. Therefore, currere include the self reflection and self awareness which is part of emphatic intelligences. As a teacher, I could help my students to reconceptualise their experiences into the learning process to not only understand the subject matter, but also reflect on their experience to reconceptualise them as individual, professional, and social agent.

Since “currere seeks to understand the contribution of academic studies makes to one’s understanding of his or her life” (Pinar, Reynolds, Slattery, & Taubman, 1996, p.522), this metaphor encourages me to give the opportunities for my students to understanding their autobiography as a part of their learning process. I would like to challenge my students who are chemistry student teachers to create the meaningful learning experiences in chemistry for their future students based on the reflection on their experiences as learners. For example, one subject in my university is teaching and learning media in chemistry, I would ask them to think creatively on creating the tools or media for teaching chemistry to create meaningful learning experiences for the students. But, firstly I would like to ask them to reflect on their positive and negative experience when they learnt chemistry. Through the analysis of their experiences they could synthesize the new invention on teaching chemistry. Moreover, my students could explore the one of nature of chemistry which is the inquiry of abstract concepts into the teaching strategies. Therefore, I would like to shape my curriculum under the emphatic intelligence zone and these two metaphors to empower my students to be individuals who understand themselves and care with others and society.

Curriculum as Community and Agenda for Social Reconstruction

According to Dolll (2002), community is the most important part to hold the other metaphors which are currere, complexity, cosmology, and conversation. Because without community, these metaphors will be isolated from others, we need interact with others as a part of curriculum process. Furthermore, related to experience and currere, curriculum as community encourage individual to reconstruct and transform their experience via the public interaction with “care and critique” (Doll, 2002, p.50). Moreover, because this metaphor emphasis care, critique, and enthusiasm, it needs the high degree of trust of ourselves and others which is part of emphatic intelligence. Through this metaphor, I could apply one of the nature of science which is “an attempt to investigate, understand, and explain natural phenomena”(Sadler, 2006, p.324) by encouraging them to care with the differences (race, gender), ecological and global issues within the community (Doll, 2002).

Furthermore, through the curriculum as community and agenda for social reconstruction, I could shape my powerful dream in pedagogic practices which is participating within social reconstruction. I realise that help learner as an agency for social reconstruction is an intensive and demanding process. According to Schubert (1986), curriculum should provide “the knowledge and values that guides the students to improve society and cultural institutions, beliefs, and activities that support it” (p.32). Through this metaphor, I could encourage my students to think and create their perfect world related to chemistry topic such as environmental friendly world which encourage them to think creatively and critically. They could imagine and assess critically their contribution and others contribution such as government and society. Furthermore, the other example of environmental topic in my country is the government policy on “Jakarta’s Car Free Day” which is there are no private cars on Saturday between 6am-7pm on the main street of Jakarta (The Simasora on Jakarta Post, 2007), via this topic I could empower my students to create and give their opinion on which is a controversial issue between environmentalists and socialists. Therefore, through this metaphor the nature of science could be a social activity which provides different ways of knowing science. Science could become “a tool of change in the community and empowers children to engage in the science in compelling ways” (Zembylas, 2005, p.716). Therefore, I believe that science could empower the learner to be pioneer of social reconstruction in their community.

Curriculum as Subject Matter, Cultural Reproduction and Discrete Tasks and Concepts

I realize that under the other metaphors such as curriculum as subject matter, cultural reproduction and discrete tasks and concepts could disempower my students to be imaginative and creative thinkers. However, I encourage myself to involve my creativity to create the evocative learning experiences for my students via these three metaphors. I do not want to be trapped under the “raised standards” of students’ competences which is given by the powerful institutions (Apple, 1997). I could choose one topic of science subject matter which related to the culture, then giving the tasks, but I should give the space for my students’ creativity and imagination. For example, the topic of herbal medicines in organic chemistry subject, some of traditional herbal medicines have been proved through chemistry research studies. I could use the information of diversity of flora and its use in Indonesia as a part of culture. Furthermore, according to Nijhuis, Segers & Gijselaers (2004), teacher and students need to be involved in creating the subject matter, cultural reproduction and discrete tasks and concepts. The educational practitioners such as teachers and students could give the valuable information of the curriculum practice in the classroom (Lovat & Smith, 1990; Grundy, 1987). It will be powerful to decline the power of “experts” which determine the content of curriculum (Apple, 1997). Through this condition, it doesn’t mean I could not give my critical voices on the curriculum. The explorations of my utopia within this journal empower to bring critical voices through the public media, research, and public meeting such as seminar and conferences in my country.

In conclusion, I found the empathic intelligence concept empower me to be an evocative teacher. The concept shapes me and my students to be a holistic individual which not only focus on standardized learning performances, but also other aspect of emotional and spiritual. Furthermore, through my ideal curriculum, this concept will be more powerful and envisioning for my pedagogical practices to encourage my students as creative and imaginative thinkers. I closed my utopia world through this poem which encourages me to be more an evocative and a powerful educator.

My Paradise….

The world, where the mind is brightest

The space, where the voice is perceived sound

The land, when the colourful is valued

The paradise, when the sun is warmest

No shade in the colorful of divergence

No edging under the luminous of brainpower

No break within the deviation of heart

No blur in the amazing of scrutiny

There is a run on the boundless stripe

There is a rhyme for the wind

There is a ray for the way

There is a space for the sovereignty

Within the secrets rain

On the touch of grass

The shout of noon

The silent of moon

I would keep on within limitless time

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