Selective schools or super schools are schools that are limited to higher performance or gifted students in academic term. To be able to attend the schools, the students should pass an academic selection test. In some selective schools, students do not need to pay school fee. They even get money pocket provided by local government. They also have to stay in a dormitory next to their school.
One of the selective schools in Indonesia is Titian Teras (TT) which is located in Jambi, Sumatra. TT is the first selective school in Jambi. The main aim of this school is to provide the best quality of education in the province of Jambi. They were selected from Junior High School students from various schools in Jambi. However, about three years ago, this school was closed by the local government because it could not finance the school. The exclusive facilities that the schools had cost too much money for local government budget. Finally, the management of the school was given to a private foundation. The school is not run by the local government so that there are no more subsidies. This decision has become a hot debate in Jambi. This essay will give a recommendation to the local government about whether or not a special school for gifted students is necessary set up in Jambi. The recommendation will be based on the Jewell’s Reasoning Taxonomy.
Almost in all 33 provinces (states) in Indonesia, there is at least a selective school for gifted children. Some of them are run by the local government by using the local budget and others are run by private institutions. In Jambi, where I work, the local government also established a selective school called Titian Teras (TT). After a few years, the school was closed because of the lack of money. Right now, the school was in a dilemma whether it will be run like it used to be or not.
My proposition toward this problem is that the local government should run the selective school to accommodate the gifted children in Jambi so that they do not need to attend other schools in other provinces. Since TT was closed, many bright students from Jambi attended other schools outside Jambi because they believe that there was no school could provide good quality to accommodate their needs. It is very important to meet the needs of Jambi’s human resources in the future.
Community of Inquiry
A number of discussions about the existence of selective schools for gifted children have been lasting for a long time in Indonesia. For those who support the idea of selective schools argue that gifted children need a special environment to maximize their potential. They also believe that if the gifted children are sent to ordinary schools, they will get a bad influence by the ordinary children. Besides, the public schools cannot provide the best facilities that are needed to accommodate the gifted children.
For example, the number of students in a class in Indonesian schools is about 40 to fifty students. With this condition, it is very difficult for teachers to accommodate the different needs of all students. This situation is blamed, as one of the reasons that gifted children will be ignored in public schools. Teachers’ quality is also another reason that most of them are not good enough to handle the gifted children.
On the other hand, those who do not support any kind of selective schools argue that education should be seen as a process of acceptance the differences among the children (Buchori, 2001). There should not be exclusiveness in schools. They believe that children should value the differences in ability as a natural thing. In fact, even the gifted children later on will see many differences in their life. If they cannot accept them in their school, how we expect the gifted children to accept the differences in their life after school.
To help us in giving a recommendation, I will use some paradigms so that we can see this issue from other different perspectives. There are at least four paradigms that I use in this issue. They are cognitive, resources, curriculum and social justice paradigms. Each paradigm will give some arguments whether or not a special school for gifted children is really needed in Jambi.
Psychologically, children have a need to be accepted in their community. The common problem for gifted children is that some of their friends ignore them as a member of their community (Whybra, 2000). Some labels like a nerd or a professor’s brain make many gifted children not feel comfortable among their friends in many public schools. This situation can disturb their social and emotional development.
By providing a special environment for gifted children will help them to perform well in social and emotional development. Special schools can become the best solution for the gifted children. If they feel that they are not alone, the gifted children will have a good quality of self-concept. The need of feeling security, safe and sound is conducive for the development of gifted children. This situation cannot be provided by many public schools.
However, the fact that selective school in Jambi is a boarding house school creates another problem. The separation from family will make a bad impact for children (Porter, 1999). Family is still the main factor which can support them to develop their social and emotional aspect.
The fact that the special school for gifted children was once set up before in Jambi shows us that it is possible to do that. In reality, the facilities are available now and are being used. Teachers as a part of resources are also available. They were already trained before in handling gifted children. They also had an experience in dealing with bright students.
It is not easy to find an appropriate curriculum which can accommodate the need of gifted children in all aspects including social and emotional development. Up until now, Indonesia does not have a fixed curriculum for gifted children. Therefore, the current curriculum that is using in many selective schools is the slight updated from the ordinary curriculum in public schools. The bad thing is this kind curriculum does not guarantee that the gifted children will get what they need. They are just taught the lessons that higher levels that the normal children in public schools.
Theoretically, some other aspects of gifted children such as emotional and social needs are not met by such a curriculum. The only difference that they get in a selective school is that they get higher level of the lessons. If this is the issue, then actually we do not really need a selective school. Why don’t we skip the levels of gifted children in public school?
Social Justice Paradigm
Selective schools are often associated with an exclusiveness and unfairness. All of selective schools run by government are fully subsidized. The better facilities that the students and teachers get will make unhealthy environment. On the other hand, there are still many other public schools in Indonesia especially in Jambi have bad facilities and fewer resources. The existence of a selective school can have bad impact in society.
Selective schools are believed as the best answer of the inability of the government to provide the good quality of education in Indonesia. By establishing a selective school in each province, the needs of gifted children can be met. The development of gifted children also can be maintained very well. A school of all with gifted students can bring a healthy environment. They will be able to develop their own social needs that they cannot probably do in an ordinary school.
In my opinion this is the best way that government can provide to the gifted children. By giving them what they need in a conducive environment, government will get the best human resources from the gifted children. These children will have an opportunity to continue their study to the best universities in the country. The selective school will make the opportunity become bigger because they get the best facilities that make it possible.
Considering the Evidence
Let us see the facts. Most of leaders that Indonesia comes from the best universities such as University of Indonesia, Gajah Mada University and Bandung Institute of Technology. Most of influential people from various fields of study are also coming from the best universities. To enter the best universities, students do not only need brilliant intelligences but also the great materials that provided by good quality teachers. This cannot be achieved if there are more than forty students in a class with a variety of ability to understand a lesson.
I also have to admit that some great leaders in Indonesia or even in the world come from the public or ordinary universities or educational institution. Even some of them do not have brilliant formal educational background. It is also true that brilliant educational background does not guarantee that someone will be a great leader in the future.
By using moral reasoning, we can decide to give a recommendation whether or not selective schools are morally accepted. To get the result, I will use the four of moral reasoning strategy, Principles, Agreements, Virtues and End Consequences.
According to principles selective school is supporting exclusiveness in education. The unequal in education can be seen in selective schools because not all students can enter the school. The special treatment from government is also an example that a group of students is considered more important than others. This is unfair according to Indonesian constitution that states that every citizen has the same right in education. There should not be any special treatment based on children’s intelligence or anything else. It is also not appropriate based on principles that the selected school get subsidy from the local government. This means that the cost for selective school is burdened to public while not all of the public can access the school.
Based on agreements, the selective school is not consistent with what it is stated in the constitution that all citizen should have the same right in education. This means there should not be different treatment among citizens because it is very clear that selective schools have made discrimination among students based on their intelligence. However, agreements also believe that students are different in their ability and we should accommodate the difference. Constitution also admits the difference. That is why the government establishes the schools for disabilities. A special school for military forces has also been established a long time ago.
If we consider the needs of gifted children in Jambi, it is clearly virtues that we should provide them with a special school that accommodate their needs because they are different from ordinary children. If we provide special schools for disabilities because they are different, we should also provide gifted children because they are also different from others. It is virtuous to provide children with something they need. The selective school can meet their needs.
There are two consequences that can appear from establishing the selective school. On one hand, if the local government establishes the selective school, the gifted children’s needs will be met. On the other hand, the local government has to spend a lot of money on the school. This means the local government should cut subsidy to schools in rural areas which there are many of them. Another consequence if the school is not established is that the gifted children cannot maximize their potential academic.
The PAVE has shown that establishing is not the best option for local government to accommodate the needs of gifted children. Moral Reasoning suggests another possibility of selective school that is an acceleration class. The benefits are students will get what they need and morally it is more acceptable than a selective school with luxurious facilities.
Conclusion and Recommendation
If a selective school is seen as a comprehensive school, there should be a comprehensive curriculum that supports the school. From the discussion above, it seems the local government is not ready to provide the integrated curriculum which can give the maximum benefit for gifted children. Curriculum is still seen as the list of syllabus for some particular subjects. If this is the case, the acceleration class is highly recommended rather than a selective school.
Acceleration class has some benefits. Firstly, it doesn’t need separate the children from public community. They are not alone and have some friends who have the similar intelligence as they do. Secondly, the students do not need to be away from their family. This is very helpful for the development of their social and emotional aspect. Thirdly, the development for their brightness will be accommodated by providing the higher level of lessons. Therefore, I reject the previous recommendation. I come to a conclusion that we don’t need a selective school yet. The best solution is to form an acceleration class.
Buchori, M. (2001). Notes on education in Indonesia. Jakarta: The Jakarta Post &
The Asia Foundation.
Jewell, P. (2000). A reasoning taxonomy for gifted education. Adelaide: Flinders
Porter, L. (1999). Gifted young children: A guide for teachers and parents.
Buckingham: Open University Press.
Whybra, J. (2000). Extention and enrichment programmes: ’A place I could fit in’
in Michael J. Stopper (Ed.). Meeting the social and emotional needs of
gifted and talented children p.p. (37-49). London: David Fulton Publisher.