Sekolah Cikal; It’s Not Just a School, It’s a Playground
Those of you who have been religiously following Mommies Daily must have heard about Sekolah Cikal, cause we have been promoting its activity and even interviewing the founder, Najelaa Shihab. She grew up in family of educators and learned psychology. Since being married and had her first child while she was at the university naturally drawn her to be interested on human development. Her partner and co-founder of Cikal, Dewi Soeharto are actively involved in the daily operation of the school, curriculum planning, teachers training and development, school to school workshops, parents workshops, school promotions and marketing activities and media cooperation.
One of the many good things about this school is its amazing commitment in nurturing a well rounded life long learners of the next generation, through its curriculum, through its programs that always encourage parents to be involved and through its activity that benefits the outside community. We don’t want to talk about the school facility here because besides it’s easily one of the top schools with the best facility, it’s something that anyone can just go and see by themselves. In choosing school for our kids, we need to see beyond its facility and location and look deeper into the philosophy and if the school offers the same values with you and will shape our kids into the kind of kids we want them to become. Here’s an interview with the principal;
What’s the mission behind Sekolah Cikal?
Sekolah Cikal was designed to be a community of lifelong learners and aim to make a difference to Indonesian education. It is a mission-oriented school, so we are basically established to fulfill its mission
What do you think is wrong with Indonesian education system?
I believe in backward design in education. The whole education process is driven by the objectives; what do we want the students to learn and how will we know what the students have learned. Sadly, in our current education system, the answer to those two questions is Ujian Akhir Nasional. With UAN as the objective, it’s no wonder that teaching for testing, teaching by text-book, rote learning and information- oriented classroom is the picture of Indonesian education. That’s why I believe the key to changing the system is by changing the objectives. I am not against standard, but I am against unauthentic, superficial assessment. We need to develop a new comprehensive way to define success in Indonesian education system which respects students and school’s differences. Once we have this goal in mind as the objectives of the curriculum, the way we teach the students will be affected too.
Of course the quality of the teaching will then need to be increased by upgrading teachers’ quality. A strong professional development program is a must for any education system. Unfortunately, the current Depdiknas’s teacher certification program doesn’t affect significant improvement as it’s planned. The higher certification point a teacher gets does not correlate with how good he/she is as a teacher. This happens because the criteria mainly based on how long they’ve been teaching and their education background — which, speaking from experience — tell you nothing of how good they’ll be able to deliver curriculum in the classroom.
What makes Sekolah Cikal different from other school?
The only reason why parents have to choose Cikal is if they believe in the philosophy of our curriculum. Any parent who doesn’t share the same goal in educating their child would not be able to support their child in the education process and reinforce our curriculum at home.
Here are Cikal 5 stars competencies:
- Emotionally, morally and spiritually rich
- Skillful and effective thinker
- Broadminded and physically sound
- Self regulated learner
- Empowering member of just, sustainable and peaceful global society.
If you agree on the philosophy, you need to look closer on how our tangible and intangible curriculum are designed to help children attain this Cikal 5 stars competencies. For example, to help students achieve our 1st star, we have a daily religion session. If you are only looking at the tangible curriculum, you will be happy seeing that religion got a 40 minutes session everyday, which more hours than even religion-based school. But you need to look further into our learning objectives and daily interaction in the classroom to understand that cikal teaches religion as a way of life not subject, we encourage inquiry, discussion and introduce different perspective within the same religion and our community comes from different religion beliefs who work together in practicing tolerance in daily life.
As I said earlier, Cikal is a mission oriented school. Every single teaching and learning activities are design with the Cikal 5 stars competency as the framework and the goal.
Another example is how we are developing our students’ 5th star competency. They have an ongoing micro-society projects in which they design a community development projects to our neighbors. Even a 5 years old can work in group to reduce the use of plastic by distributing used plastic bag from our homes to warung-warung behind our school area, so they don’t need to buy new ones. Our 8 years old are conducting trainings on processing healthy food to mothers in our neighborhood. So now, in our school event, we order from them and not from a big chain bakery. It’s all so simple and prove that small ideas from small people can truly make a difference.
To make it short, choosing a school is never about the location, facilities, what books they are using and what’s the daily schedule. It’s about looking deeper into how the school commits to deliver the curriculum and how the school culture affecting the learning. Two children from different school can come back with two identical airplane crafts, it’s the same product, the same result. But the interactions in the classroom while planning for this activity, working on it and reflecting on the process can be a totally different experience. And that’s what really matters. So you need to move beyond the school brochure and other tangible things to really understand the difference. Do come and experience Cikal! :)
What’s the story behind Cikal high admission and tuition fee?
Yes, comparing to some schools, Cikal school fees are higher, but we are not the highest on the market. And we don’t believe that a higher or lower tuition fee describe how good the school is. Cikal’s fees are calculated based on what the school needs to operate and deliver the best teaching and learning experience driven by our curriculum. Continuous improvement is our mantra. And with all the advancement in education – on going professional development and resources procurement – are necessary to keep us updated with the best practices that are available .
Some of the branches and partnership that we are working to set-up right now will have a different fee structure. Hopefully, it will provide more opportunity for Cikal to serve wider community.
Yay, that’s a good news for us :). Besides the founder, we have also asked one of the parents about her experience with Sekolah Cikal. Tika Sukarna is a mother of Toby Muhamad, a first grader at Cikal.
Waktu memilih sekolah untuk Toby, apa nih kriteria yang diutamakan?
Utamanya sih kami mencari sekolah dimana interaksi antar guru dan murid baik, guru pengertian, anak-anak menikmati suasana belajar mengajar dan cukup ‘kekeluargaan’. Untuk ini kami berpendapat bahwa diperlukan kadar ratio: guru yg memadai (kelas tidak terlalu besar).
Kedua, bahwa sekolah cukup terbuka untuk memberi kesempatan orang tua bisa turut aktif/berpartisipasi dalam proses belajar mengajar.
Ketiga, karena Toby tidak bisa Bahasa Indonesia dan selama 6 tahun ini full tinggal di luar negri, kami mencari sekolah yang bisa membantu dia berasimilasi dengan lebih nyaman, bukan hanya dalam belajar berbahasa, tapi juga dalam membiasakan diri akan budaya dan kebiasaan yang berbeda di Indonesia.
Setelah itu baru kita lihat ke arah fasilitas dan program sekolahnya. Untuk program akademik-nya, kami mencari sekolah yang menekankan kreatifitas dan budaya ilmiah/inquiry. Fasilitas yang kita minati adalah program literacy/perpustakaan yang memadai, ratio guru:murid rendah.
Trus alasannya memilih Cikal?
Karena guru-gurunya baik-baik, pengertian dan anak-anak sepertinya sangat senang menjalani proses belajar-mengajar disana. Lebih lagi, guru-guru yang baik hati ini bukan bekerja secara instinct saja tapi juga didasari oleh program training yang cukup mendetail dan landasan ilmu psikologi anak yang mendalam, jadi proses belajar-mengajar yang dapat selalu berevolusi.
Selain itu kurikulum cikal berdasarkan program IB (International Baccalaureate) yang menggunakan pendekatan belajar mengajar melalui ‘proses of inquiry’, dimana anak belajar mirip seorang ilmuwan yang berusaha memahami fenomena alamnya lewat observasi nyata dan eksperimentasi, bertanya dan membuat suatu teori. Jadi proses belajar mengajar bukan mengacu pada mata pelajaran secara terpisah, tapi berdasarkan unit of inquiries dimana tiap-tiap mata pelajaran digunakan untuk memahami dan mengolah suatu topik/pertanyaan dalam satu kesatuan. Menurut kami ini cara yang cukup menarik untuk membangkitkan kreatifitas anak yang mandiri dan cerdas dengan rasa ingin tahu yang tinggi. Bahwa proses belajar adalah suatu bagian dari kehidupan sehari-hari.
Program IB telah diterapkan diberbagai negara diseluruh dunia dalam bentuk sertifikasi, memberikan kesempatan juga bagi guru untuk mendalami ilmu belajar mengajarnya lewat training program secara berkala. Selain itu, karena programnya cukup universal, semisal anak akan suatu waktu pindah keluar Indonesia, mereka akan lebih mudah berasimilasi dengan mengikuti program/sekolah IB yang ada di negara yang bersangkutan. Jadi memang sangat cocok bagi Toby yang mungkin tidak akan terus menetap di satu negara dalam pendidikannya.
Selain itu Cikal juga memiliki program literacy yang cukup aktif dan perpustakaan yang terus berkembang. Cikal juga sangat mendorong orang tua untuk turut aktif dalam proses belajar mengajar dan juga memberi fasilitas orang tua (juga pendamping anak ie; babysitter) untuk mengembangkan diri lewat berbagai macam workshops. Dan lebih penting lagi, orang tua juga dapat dengan mudah berkomunikasi dengan guru/staff sekolah jika ada masalah dan guru/staff yang cukup accommodating dalam menampungnya.
Karena latar belakang keluarga kami muslim, Cikal menjadi lebih menarik dibanding dengan sekolah lain di kelasnya karena program agama Islamnya yang diarahkan sebagai suatu bagian dari kehidupan sehari-hari walau tetap terbuka dan pluralistik.
Bagaimana dengan Toby? Senang nggak bersekolah di Cikal?
Toby senang sekali sekolah dan menurut Toby sekolahnya lebih asik daripada sekolahnya di NYC karena gurunya baik-baik sekali dan nggak ngasih PR melulu :D
Wow, doesn’t that make you want to register your school there? (I know I do..:D)…but eventhough you are not planning to send your school at Sekolah Cikal, hopefuly this article can serve you as a guidelines in finding the ultimate school for your kids. Our kids will spend so much time in school, much more than the time us working mom spend together with them so we need to make sure that they go to the right place.
If you want to discuss this further, we have Sekolah Cikal thread in our forum and we have quite a few Cikal’s mom there..you’re more than welcome to stop by :)