I am looking out the lecturers’ room. Since the re-arrangement the university rooms, I am little bit confuse to find out the chemistry lecturer room. Finally, I find it, room 1.6 which I see my colleague read the book. I am still not used to call miss E “my colleague”, because she is my lecturer when I was a student. I remember that I become the lecturer after I finished my study at this university. I knock the door slowly, little bit afraid that I will disturb her concentration. Suddenly, she is looking at the door and looking at me through the window. “ Yuli, just come in, I am waiting for you”. I walk slowly and sit down on the chair in front of her. The lecturer’s rooms is not too big, just convenient for two people discussion. She looks at me and starts talking, “So, you will teach environmental chemistry this semester?”, “ Yes, I do”, I say it slowly. As a junior lecturer, I have responsibility to teach the practicum subject and the senior lecturer will teach theory in the classroom. I just try to make the subject interconnect with the theory at the classroom. Therefore, I meet her today.
Miss E look at her cupboard and take one thin book. “Ok, Yuli, just follow this practicum book, I will teach the theory at the classroom”. She gives me the book, I just remember that this environmental chemistry unit is one unit for “chemistry” students, not for “chemistry education” students. My department has two programs which are chemistry and chemistry education. Chemistry program for the students who want to become chemists, while the chemistry education for students who want to become chemistry teachers. Therefore, I do not know much the learning process in this subject because I graduated from chemistry education program. My department gives me the responsibility for teach this subject in the laboratory because I have experience as an environmental laboratory assistant in the other institution. I just remember the reason why this subject is not designed for the “chemistry education” students, because of becoming the chemistry teacher, they do not need the knowledge how to solve and work with the pollutant such as analysis water pollutant in the laboratory. Since, I was a student, I don’t’ agree with this reason, because I believe that the chemistry teacher has responsibility to give their students the awareness of environmental problems.
My memory is getting flow, until Miss E’ pen fall into the floor. Suddenly, I look at her and ask, “so, what is the goal of this subject in the laboratory? “. Miss E answer my question carefully. I think she remember the way I asked the same question when I was a student. “ ehm, the students have skills to analysis the pollutant, because they will become a chemist, these skills will be important for them, right?, just follow the laboratory procedures, that’s part of curriculum”. Heard the term of “just follow,” “laboratory procedures”, and “curriculum” just make me uncomfortable. This process seems to me as a bible book of chemistry which can’t be changed. I ask Miss E carefully, “so, they just follow the practicum procedure such as cooking book?” .“Don’t be too perfect Yuli, the requirement is they have skills to analysis the pollutant”. “How’s about the students’ awareness of environment? Is it not important?. “ I know it is important, but how you teach that and how you measure that?. I just silent, at that time I really do not know how to answer that questions. “Ok, yuli, the lecture will be started next week, just prepare everything at the laboratory, good luck.”. I come out that room by questioning myself with my own questions, “ how’s about environmental awareness?.
. As a lecturer who teaches pre-service teacher is really challenging for me, because they will become people who educate the young generation. The “horrible” education process can be duplicated by my students which can be the long life impacts for their students later. Therefore, since I came to SMEC, I realize that the learning process in the classroom is not simply “transfer” or “construct” the knowledge, it becomes challenging within students’ empowerment. Since, I graduated from chemistry education, and then becoming chemistry educator, I comprehend that chemistry is not only simply the science subject in the classroom. It could be the subject which can be a tool for the future betterment. I realize that chemistry can contribute the negative impacts into the environment such as the pollution, but chemistry also can contribute for the positive impacts such as medicine. However, it is the common perception that chemistry contributes the negative effects to the environment. It becomes challenging to reserve this perception, not only or the chemists, but also the chemistry educators through the education process.
As a chemistry educator, I realize that the border of education system such chemistry curriculum. I comprehend that the chemistry curriculum is very rigid in my country which there is no room for teacher’s creativity. Moreover, I had experience to write down the chemistry book for secondary school, but I just write it down based on the curriculum which is the requirement of education department, without think about the students’ conception on it. As a result, textbooks are governed by the powerful institution. Within this condition, I would like to start my challenging journey within the critical thinking process about the education system in my country, especially the curriculum. Starting with the concept of curriculum integration which is applied in my country in term of simply integration of the subject which need to be transformed. Within the process of reflection and critical thinking I hope that I could give the contribution for my society.
Furthermore, my concern on green chemistry as one approach which focus on giving contribution for the sustainability environmental. The approach such as applied small quantity of chemical substances, substitution of dangerous chemical substances, and recycling the waste. Those are elements of a green chemistry approach, which are reducing the quantity of dangerous chemical substances. I would like explore this concept in not only term of giving the strategies in teaching chemistry which environmental friendly, but also giving the contribution for empowerment the students about environmental awareness. It will be really challenging for me, since education system in Indonesia tends to discourage the students to be the critical and reflective thinkers. Moreover, I believe that teaching chemistry is not simply constructing the knowledge to pass the examination. Even though, at this time, I am still struggle to find out the way to apply this challenging process within my classroom. Therefore, through this narrative, I try to explore and empower myself to be the critical and reflective chemistry educator.