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Breathe, keep breathing. Don't lose your nerve" -
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Page 113: Teach. Learn. Cool Job. And Passion. *

/ Saturday, November 26, 2011 /

How many of you think that teacher is a popular job in this country? If you raised your hand, then I probably raised my eyebrow a bit. For me, numbers for people who want to be teacher or educator are much lower than, let’s say doctor, lawyer, or business man *and the list goes on*. Negative thinking, I’m totally aware of that. I don’t know about other countries. I have tried to find the research about it, but even Mr. Google has limit, it gave me zero result. Or maybe I didn’t search it well. Ah, well.

The most common reason is society’s mindset about teacher’s salary. Let’s say a kid want to be a teacher after they graduated from high school, it is not a surprise if his/ her parents would avert it. To blame them wouldn’t be a nice decision; because they don’t have this insight that teacher could have a nice wage. The second most common reason is the image that teacher is not a cool job.

image from: here


But what is a cool job? Back where I was still in high school, definition of cool jobs for me would lead to these words:
- Author: you can “play God”. Create characters; make them alive, kill them as you wish, put them in misery, give them happiness. You can inspire people who have read your book(s).
- Journalist: you can go to interesting places, meet interesting people with interesting story.
- Detective: solving mystery. Analyze people characters. Chasing the bad guy.
- Forensic scientist: take a deep look inside human body. Slicing cadavers, seek what caused their death. Err, I should stop before I sound like a psychopath.
- Scientist (including cryptozoologist): searching for mysterious creature! Create something. Make theories. Experimenting. And just like author, scientist can “play God”, in much advanced level.
- Archeologist: Go to pyramids to find out whether it truly has connection with aliens. Find a lost city. Find an artifact. Solve a mystery.
- Curator: analyze art works; decide which painting should have million dollars in its tag price. Ladida. Ladida.
- Own a book shop and antique store: traveling to find rare and antique documents/books. Knowing the history of old stuff.
- Movie and music video director: I grew up when MTV was on the peak of coolness. Unlike now who stuffed with so called reality shows. “Making The Video” was one of the coolest programs they’ve ever run. If you’re a movie director, you can make everything on the script becomes real. You can save history. You can make history.
- Musician: fame, money, and being adored.

Now, all I can think of about cool job is the one which can accommodate your passion. If you’re one of those who think accountant or mathematician is not a cool job, hold that thought inside your head; because some people DO have interest and passion in it. I have a friend, a beautiful and smart girl who’d been asked if she wanted to be an anchor or not. Guess what, she refused it. When I asked the reason, she simply replied, “I like numbers, balance-sheet, and accounting. I really enjoy calculating and I want to be an accountant.”

The cool label on some jobs could shift as time. In the past, kid that want to be artist; be it painter, musicians, actor, actress often got questioned by their parents and society about their future, their welfare; because it was so full with uncertainty and the competition was very tight. Painter for example, has to be super magnificent and talented creating realism paintings. Now, as urban culture takes control, art get this new spot, a comfort one. Pop culture and technology gave so much contribution in creative industry. Artsy people are cool, artworks worth million dollars, parents no longer afraid how their kid would feed themselves in the future if they take “art” as their major.

Did you notice how coin flipped side?

I guess that’s the beauty of diversity. Can you imagine if everyone shares the same interest and craving the same job? I remember when I was interviewing Arian, vocalist of Seringai, he mentioned a good example related to this issue. He told me that what can make music industry run are not only good musicians. It also needs a good business man, a great producer, a dedicated band manager, stage photographer, even a merchandiser. Imagine if everyone wants to become a musician and nobody takes part as promoter? Who will arrange the concert? And what if everyone wants to be a fashion designer, who made the suit? Who sell the textile materials?

Back to teacher as not-that-popular job in Indonesia, my supervisor in office once told me that among those teacher candidates, only few that came from top ranking students. It’s kind of sad, especially when we talked about education system in Indonesia. Perhaps, many of you realize that our system hasn’t changed much since 19th century. The methods that vaguely put “teachers always right and student must listening” still running in many schools. And don’t forget about teacher’s salary. I’m not talking about teacher in International school, but in rural area, village. No wonder if it is not a popular job.

These past two months, working in a foundation that put concern in education and working in a team consisted of wonderful people that share the same interest and hope about education, somehow, keep me thinking that we still can give contribution to this country. Through education and all instruments needed. Especially when I see the students; those teacher candidates that also have passion to educate. Students that believe that educator is one of the sources that revive the exchange process of knowledge to make a better Indonesia. I remember Anies Baswedan’s speech at National Teachers Conference 2011; he said that what makes people on the level of well being isn’t because they work hard. It’s education. You may be rich, but if you weren’t well educated, you are just a person with money without social awareness or thoughts to spread something good. And that’s one of the factors that make those corruptors did odious things.

At this point, I think “well being” isn't just rich. And “well educated” is more than just graduate from some university with a high GPA. Well educated is when we can learn more than what had been written in academic module, when we can explore the bliss of sharing, when we’re living this life.

And this country need not only a dedicated teachers, but teachers that also take role as passionate learners; learn to listen to their students, learn to keep their mind open, learn to inspire and work with passion. As German poet and dramatist, Christian Friedrich Hebbel said, “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” So keep the passion alive, and try to live it. Whatever your job is.

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a little commemoration for National Teachers' Day 

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