Do you remember how you used to learn about history? I remember memorising so many dates, so many names of heroes, so many names of places and so many other things that I had to memorise to pass the history test. But did I understand why the Diponegoro War happened? Why our beloved country is the way it is now? Why history can influence our life in the future? I am not so sure about that.
In our grade 4 unit of history, with central idea: “Understanding the history of a nation allows us to reflect within ourselves and build future nationalism”, the teachers were thinking about what would be the best way of provoking students inquiry. What would be the provocative activity to get them wonder, and thinking about what’s going on?
At the beginning of the unit, teachers dressed up as college activists with loudspeaker on, they gathered students and provoked them with yells and chants such as; “Turunkan pemerintahan! Turunkan harga sembako! Turunkan harga beras! Turunkan harga minyak! Turunkan presiden! Kami mau reformasi!”
Students were surprised with what’s going on, they followed the teachers to the Multi Purpose Hall, where there were some teachers, dressed as Indonesian armies, tried to block the mob. They all went through the big door, where there was a big paper with “Gedung MPR” posted on the wall. Inside, there was a podium in the middle and students sat on the floor, with the pretend college activists still yelled and chanted all those provoking words.
Suddenly, a very sad well known Indonesian song “Gugur Bunga” echoed and built a sacred ambience around the hall room. A teacher, dressed as President Soeharto gave his last speech of resignation. The Indonesian armies and police officers were behind him. It was the day when Indonesian Reformation happened. It was May 21st 1998.
The college activist cheered with happiness, followed by the students. It was like the day of victory.
And then what?
After the activity, students asked questions like; What was that? What just happened? What is reformation? Is that what happen to our country? Why the president did resign? Why people of Indonesia have all that demands? Why people of Indonesia wanted the president to resign? Can that happen again?
Actually, that were the questions that the teachers are waiting for! That is, a provocation activity all about. The goal to make students interested to the unit was succeeded. From that moment, the teachers and students went back to trace the Indonesian history, starting from May 1998 event, Indonesia’s Independence day event, and went a long way before that.
Students will think about Indonesian History, as an event that they never will forget because they experienced the events. And they don’t have to memorise the dates because they sure remember because they understand. Because history, is in the heart of the people, is in the heart of the students.
Marsaria Primadona (Pima)
Courtesy of Year 4 Teachers