Mang Usep Ngalalana

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Tearing Down the Thick-sided yet Transparent Wall



University and School are supposed to be a “lovely” partner in educating high quality future teachers.  Universities as Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs) lie right in the heart of an education system. They train, prepare, educate, and distribute future teachers to schools.  However, the relationship between the two institutions is not like a producer-consumer model in which one of them is subordinate to the other.  Rather, both institutions are producers and consumers at the same time.  TEIs, using many different “means of production” such as raw materials-students, lecturers, curriculum, and physical facilities, produce high quality products called teachers; then they distribute their products to schools as their consumers which are at the same time also acting as producers of high quality future citizens. And the quality of future citizens depends upon the process of production called teaching and learning in schools. Only high quality teachers can deliver high quality teaching and learning process; these high quality teachers are the products of high quality production processes in TEIs system.  Thus, the relationship between TEIs and schools is not complementary, rather, dialectical.  In other words, schools need TEIs to provide them with high quality teachers, and TEIs need schools to inform them about the performance of the teachers they produce.  Using that information, TEIs then make improvement on their “production” process. This dialectical relationship keeps continues with no ends. 

In order to improve the quality of the “production process”, the teaching and learning process, both institutions need to keep themselves well-informed about what happens in their respective institutions.  Developing a close partnership is the key to respond to this needs.  However, the relationship between TEIs and schools is not always as smooth as it is supposed to be.  Often, misunderstanding occurs among them that leads to prejudice and mistrust between them.  There is a kind of thick-sided yet transparent wall stuck between the two institutions.  The wall is transparent enough so the people in both sides could see each others.  Even, sometimes they can talk to each others.  However, since the wall is also thick-sided, the communication process between the people in the two institutions is not effective.  People in one side are having difficulties to get their voices heard by those in the other side.  Sometimes it can be heard, but not clear enough.  People in TEIs side could only see and observe what happens in schools side from distance.  They do try to ask about what happens in the school side; and people in school side respond to it, but their voices are heard vaguely. In the end, people in TEIs use their distance observation and vaguely voices of teachers in schools as the basis for improving the quality of teaching and learning process of future teachers. As the consequences, often, the skills and knowledge of the “product”, the newly graduated teachers, is not appropriate to deal with actual and practical realities in school classrooms.

Therefore, in order to improve the quality of teaching and learning process, “the production process”, in both sides, the thick-sided yet transparent wall must be torn down. What the wall actually is? The wall is solidly made from bureaucracy, ego, beliefs, and trust of the people in both sides. As long as the wall is still standing there, it is impossible for both institutions to work together, to share ideas, to exchange thoughts, intended to improve the quality of teaching and learning process.  Surely, it requires a lot of time and energy to tear down the wall completely.  Therefore, people in both sides must start with small actions such as making holes on the walls.  The more the holes, the weaker the wall; and finally it will be collapse.

So, let’s tear down the wall … !!!


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