Visiting lecturer at Human Resource Management Dept. at Applied Psychology Graduate Studies, Universitas Indonesia. (C) Susilo

“You’ve always been teaching.”

A dear friend told me this when I shared him my aspiration to explore the possibilities of teaching at university. Aspiration? Explore? Possibilities?

Yes. For me, teaching others is one of those professions that require true personal callings. I rarely meet teachers who were rich, famous or powerful because of teaching. No, wealth, popularity and title are not – at least to me – the number one (if any) reason one teaches others. To teach, I need to find my true callings. That is why so far it is an aspiration to explore, a possibility.

When I graduated from ITB in 1999, I was afraid of leaving the best campus I’ve ever had.

“I’ve read people doing politics in the office, backstabbing each other for power, and became stupid because they spent little, if any, time to learn,” was my reason to stay close to and in campus.

When my undergraduate advisor – who happened to be my boss  – offered me a full scholarship for my graduate study, I was excited. But, after learning the subjects, I asked my advisor to apply other, new and more interesting course.

That was the first time I learned that free stuffs don’t come for free and, most importantly, integrity was put at test the most when I’m at the high points.

The process to say no to my advisor was a tough one. One of the reasons was because I was in a work commitment. A flash of light bursted.

There I was, as much as I hated the idea of work, I used it as an excuse to turn down the scholarship offer.

“I will learn how to practice what I studied at work,” was my unbeatable excuse to my advisor.

Suddenly, I was sitting in my cubicle. Looking at spreadsheets, monitoring progress of others’ works, and getting online dates as my way out of boredom which occurred as quick as one two three days after my first time stepping into that office.

Fast forward fifteen years, when I received my master degree, I thought about how works have shaped my ideals on science and, most importantly, on education.

I remembered offering my first session to share experience and the theories behind it with aspirant facilitators.

I remembered spending significant amount of time to explore research papers and getting data to build concepts.

I remembered demonstrating more confidence to promote scientific theories to base solutions for my clients.

I also remembered how scientific experimentation was deliberately applied in some of my paid works.

I realized, I have returned to and stayed in campus without actually staying in one. I no longer divided campus and office, learning and working, experimenting and executing.

Two years ago, when a friend asked me to share my experience in knowledge management in his management course in one of Jakarta’s top university, I was still hesitant. Not because of the why, but the how.

“How do I share what I did to students who are actively building their own theories? What if their theories would be inappropriate because of what I shared?”

The class session turned out to be all right. Glitches here and there, but my fear was proven wrong. At this stage, teachers or lecturers do not push but share experiences, do not force but challenge questions, do not share but ask students to build their own theories.

Today, teachers – especially in higher education – is so much closer to what education have always envisioned: to guide students for their own discoveries, to develop students and themselves, and to facilitate learning for students and themselves.

Last weekend, another opportunity came. This time from Universitas Indonesia, where I studied knowledge management. With those theories in mind, I stepped into the room and found my self immersed with these students.

I shared my experience but ask theirs first. I shared my theories but asked them to build their own. Most importantly, I did not feel inferior saying, “I don’t know” to these students.

I am not sure if these students at UI came out learning anything from me. But I am confident that teaching – challenging, guiding and facilitating – others for their own self discoveries is high in my list.

Hey you, thanks for those encouraging words 🙂