Author Archives: ReveurGAM

About ReveurGAM

I do freelance work about the environment and education, and sometimes other things. It is my goal to help create a better world for all. I currently volunteer at Generations Against Bullying (

To What Degree Do You Need a Degree?


It really depends on you.  If you are motivated or inspired to learn, and will be thorough and unbiased, you can learn a great deal more than potentially even the best universities can teach you.  The history of the world is full of people like this – people who stretched the boundaries of our understanding of things, who mastered topics that weren’t even formally available (thus creating a need for them), who redefined our understanding of things that were previously limited by old dogmas and concepts.  People who look at life as an on-going learning process, like to take on the challenges thrown at them, enjoy expanding their horizons in unexpected directions, and/or want to know more and be able to do more really don’t need to go to university, except for certain professions (such as medical, legal and other professions in which the lack of a degree makes it illegal to perform the tasks of the job).

If you like traditional education, and prefer to have someone lead you from A to B to C, then you should earn a degree.  I’m not saying that everyone who has earned a degree, or is working on one, is lazy, though, nor am I saying that degree-holders are inherently inferior to those who’ve taught themselves!   Excellence in a career (or at university) is dependent on YOU – if you find the environment, mode of teaching, materials, etc. to be a mismatch for you, and you lack a strong desire to persevere in the face of such a challenge, it will likely be a struggle!  What I’m really saying here is that people who prefer to have information presented to them in the way they have grown accustomed to in school, don’t enjoy researching, want everything presented in a predictable, linear way, prefer learning via watching and listening rather than doing, etc. may find that earning a degree is easier, more practical, more comfortable or a better match for you than being self-taught.  Being a self-directed learner is not for everyone, but that doesn’t make you a bad or stupid person.  Some people thrive in an academic setting – others feel suppressed by it.

To criticize someone for lack of a degree is like saying that all those millionaires who never finished school somehow cheated “the system” is unfair.  It also raises questions about the huge number of highly successful people throughout history who never went to or finished university (and some didn’t finish primary or secondary school), which leads one to ask: “Is the system the real problem?” When we solidify rules to the point that those who can do the job well but don’t hold a relevant degree CAN’T get a job, prioritizing a piece of paper that often doesn’t prove ability over the ability itself, we turn our nation onto the path of intellectual slavery. I mean this in the sense that everyone becomes enslaved to universities and the financial sector, forced to take out large loans that they may never be able to pay off because, in the end, having a degree doesn’t guarantee you are qualified, nor does it guarantee you will get a job for that degree, keep the job you DO get, or earn enough to pay off your debts!

While having a degree from a top-ranked university will likely guarantee you a job in your field of choice, it doesn’t automatically mean you will be successful in life.  There are plenty of super-smart people out there who are terrible at handing social relationships, and/or their emotions, or who have lots of knowledge but few valuable skills and, as a result, find themselves failing to succeed according to their expectations.   Not everyone can be a Mark Zuckerberg.

One of the most talented individuals I’ve met in the field of computer programming, my dear friend Scott Klement, was massively talented as a programmer long before he went to university. Why did he get a degree if he was so great? He felt he needed a degree to be able to get a good job in programming, even though his skills were such that there were many university-trained programmers who couldn’t do what he could.  Ironically, his story is not unique – I have met many other programmers (and indeed people from other professions) with the exact same story.  Many of them, despite years of experience and a reputation for ability, found themselves unable to work because too many HR people are not smart enough to see that a piece of paper isn’t what you should base a hire on  One of the best English teachers I ever hired was actually a graduate of the faculty of economics! Go figure!

If you read the article, you’ll see a startling false assertion by Howard Dean:  “Howard Dean recently criticized Gov Scott Walker for never finishing college, stating that he was ‘unknowledgeable.'”. If Scott Walker is “unknowledgeable”, it doesn’t automatically follow that it is because he lacks a degree, nor does not having finished college mean he is “unknowledgeable”.  Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg didn’t finish, either, but few people would say they are “unknowledgeable”.  I have met several people online from around the world who hold a degree (or more than one) yet display a vast lack of knowledge on the topic which they hold a degree for.  I have met others who held one or more degrees but couldn’t do their jobs properly. And, still other degree holders never got a job in their own profession (myself included) for a variety of reasons.

How many greatly admired historical figures never went to university? Jesus, Muhammad, and Buddha, of course, all fit that bill, but what about people now?

I’m not sure why Bill Gates is on this list, since he did go to university but I think he didn’t finish. Don’t forget the link at the bottom of this link for an article about why you don’t need a degree:…

Or, if you want a comprehensive list of those who didn’t get a degree:

The requirement of a degree is a problem with hiring practices in many countries, not just the USA, and it doesn’t just affect citizens of each country.  Many countries require a degree so that foreigners can get a work visa, yet that degree doesn’t mean the person is qualified to do the job.  Whether you’re a local or a foreigner, choosing a new employee based on credentials is like playing “pin the tail on the donkey” – you never know which part of the jackass you’ll hit.  So, you may ask: “Why would a government insist on it?” Because it’s easier than telling the Department of Labor to investigate each applicant for a work visa to determine their worth. By reducing it to a piece of paper, the government does the least amount of work and all the consequences are placed on the shoulders of the employer.  The sad truth is that, if a governmental department doesn’t perform due diligence by verifying the degree, then it is easy for employees and employers to falsify documents.  In some countries, the fake document business is an industry unto itself.

Not only is it an imperfect system but there are universities and colleges actively seeking to rob students, banks and governments. They provide low quality education and some are “fly-by-night”. Others, such as some community colleges, can’t provide a good enough education and thus rob their students of a better future, including actual job opportunities upon graduation. And then there are the degree mills – fake universities and partner companies that give you a degree if you pay them money. They lie about accreditation – often creating their own accreditation organization on a separate website, and have no physical location or teaching staff. Their whole goal is to rake in money for a piece of paper that I could just as easily photoshop as as pay for.
A friend of mine who is a stock trader wrote:

“I guess it all depends upon what one is seeking to learn. Personally, I believe one’s education never stops, and the vast majority of it occurs at the “school of hard knocks”. I’ve generally considered a degree to be a piece of paper that grants access to a higher “caste”.. (management.. etc).. Because most of what we learn to do at a job, is provided by job training when you get the job (or working with others who tell you what to do and how to do it).. Only a Tech school might prepare you for a specialized task..We’ve all known people who are “educated beyond their intelligence” and who display a lack of common sense. Having that degree, by no means, displays competence in that field.

And I agree with Glenn.. the educational system has become a true money machine. It has offered false promises of higher paying jobs, and put students into tremendous debt.. A debt they are not permitted to default on. But did that education really prepare people to function in society?”

I would add that the school of “hard knocks” is what happens when we resist learning and changing. I think how often you “go” there depends, in large part, on how much time you spend resisting learning what you should and applying it. Does that necessarily mean someone who spends a lot of time on self-improvement will escape “hard knocks”?  Nope, but such a person is likely to be hit by fewer of them since said person has already learned how to avoid many of them.  In other words, when you put a blanket over your head to avoid seeing the monster in the room, don’t expect for it to keep you safe. It is, after all, just a blanket. You need to take off the blanket and confront your inner demons so that you can improve.


Yet, some major companies (like QVC in the article I linked to above) such as Google are starting to change their hiring practices.  Instead of just looking for a degree, or a degree and experience, they’ve come to see that while these two things MAY indicate the quality of a candidate, they do not GUARANTEE the quality.  You can assume that academic results and ranking indicate how great the person is an employee, but that doesn’t show you how good that person is at working in a team, building relationships, or controlling his/her emotions, nor do those scores necessarily indicate abilities, creativity, problem-solving, wisdom, cleverness, grit or any number of other qualities that make someone better than the rest.  Experience from previous jobs may show that the person is highly capable but if you cannot verify this information through honest, unbiased communication with former employers, your ability to know his/her level of ability is hampered.  Neither academic results nor a resume will tell you about the person’s character.  Letters of recommendation can help in this area, but if you’re not good at inferring from them, you may miss hidden messages from the authors.

Ultimately, challenging a candidate to perform specific tasks, alone and/or in groups, with and without pressure, can give you a much better feel for that person’s overall intellect, quality, character, and ability,  as well as how good a match the person is for a job than a portfolio of documents can.

So, let’s return to the question that is the title.  Who absolutely MUST have a degree (in my opinion)?

  • Doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, midwives, nurses and anyone else for whom the absence of a degree makes performing that job a crime.
  • A job that requires a great degree of highly-specialized, technical knowledge (implying great intelligence) in order to ensure that the person knows enough to do the job well, such as a rocket scientist, nuclear physicist or psychologist.

Who probably SHOULD have a degree, but might be a great candidate anyways?

  • A job that requires specialized knowledge that can be learned at a university or through self-learning, such as engineering, architecture, biology, general physics, upper management, etc.

Who may or may not need a degree, depending on their personality and learning style, as well as how hard it actually is to independently learn the knowledge and acquire the skills?

  • Computer programmers, chemists, construction workers, librarians, lower-level managers and supervisors, sanitation workers, farmers, ranchers, etc.

There are plenty of other jobs out there that fall under the category of: you don’t need a degree if you’re willing to teach yourself, ranging from secretaries and fast-food workers to entrepreneurs and angel investors.


The most important thing otherwise is that you make a choice based on your own needs, learning style, and willingness to study unassisted, as well as what the government requires.


Remember, even if you don’t have a degree – you can still impress them in an interview.  Can’t get that interview, you say?  Well, then produce an example of your ability to get their attention so that they can’t help but call you in!


By the way,  teaching yourself isn’t easy.  You have to be willing to study a lot of things along the way that you didn’t anticipate, be disciplined and develop skills that support your success in learning this way.  But, it’s a lot more interesting, personally rewarding and cheaper than a degree and, ultimately, it may lead you in very unexpected directions that are far more exciting than what you’d originally decided on (with or without a degree).


Teaching Is Not for Everyone


Teaching is not for everyone.

It is not, of course, for those who are violent people, molesters, psychopaths, sociopaths, and drug dealers.

But, it is also not for people who have several of these qualities: impatient, easily angered, lacking in empathy, willing to bully or embarrass, uncaring, crass, callous, emotionally disconnected, overly strict, overly permissive or acidic.

There are a lot of different kinds of people who are teachers now, and they have all sorts of reasons for getting into education – and many of them are neither noble nor profane.  However, teaching takes a special kind of person. Sure, you need to know your subject matter well, and you need to understand different ways to evaluate and test, different teaching styles and methodologies, teaching tools, psychology, how the brain and body work, and so on, but it’s more than that.  If we want to advance humanity as a whole, we need to get much more selective on the candidates we consider as teachers. We need to become more careful, choosing people who are intensely committed, passionate and creative. Mediocrity will only lead to more mediocrity.

The Finnish people understand this. Every candidate teacher goes through a selection process after getting their education degree but before they’re allowed to take the rest of the training to become a teacher. If they fail the interview process, they do not get to be teachers.

So, what do you need to be a teacher?  Other than the obvious mastery of your subject matter:

-have and affirm high standards and expectations.
-passionate commitment, because this isn’t a vocation – it is an avocation, something you love to do and are committed to.
-a sincere desire to help students, because if you don’t want to help your students, you aren’t a teacher. Without students, you don’t have a job, but without teachers, students can still learn!
-patience, because you have to have enough patience to fill the Grand Canyon when dealing with so many different types of people.
-love of the world, because you cannot teach properly about the world if you don’t want to help make it a better place.
-empathy, because you need to be able to put yourself into the position of each student so you can understand their behavior and build a strong, healthy relationship with them.
-tolerance, because intolerance is a poison that destroys entire nations and maybe someday the world.
-temperance, because temperance of emotions sets the example for all and temperance of behavior keeps you out of trouble and gives them yet another example and because extreme attitudes breed hatred, not love.  Emotional maturity is a key to success.
-servitude, because being a teacher isn’t supposed to be about your ego or your status – it’s about facilitating students and, through them, making the world a better place.
-observational accuracy, because you have to be able to know your students’ strengths and weaknesses and be able to help and grade them without just relying on homework and tests.
-warmth, because many students don’t experience enough of it at home or in their neighborhoods.
-honest and genuine, because you are their example of good behavior and they will not respect you if they discover that you lie or see you as being fake.
-respectful, because they deserve to experience respect so they can become the best under your tutelage. They may not get respect at home, so it must be learned elsewhere that it is not what they think.
-loving, because teaching is, at its core, all about love, and the love of your students is such an amazing thing that you can work miracles through it.
-fair, because when you are unfair in the application of rules and grading, they know you’re a hypocrite and won’t respect or trust you.
-trustworthy, because without trust, there can be no genuine relationship with them, no respect, no real love.
-moderation, because the extremes of behavior (be it opinions, eating or activities) are usually not good for physical, mental, relationship and/or financial health.

Teaching is not for everyone. It is only for very, very special people. Many teachers lack some of the qualities it takes to be a great teacher, yet are overall great teachers.  There are, sadly, many others who lack several of the qualities and are just average (or worse).   The difference between a great teacher and an average one has been measured – more material covered, greater breadth and depth, higher grades, more interest from students, etc.  If you are aware that you are seriously lacking in these qualities, either change or get out of the profession.  Change is ALWAYS an option and I believe that there are many average and even poor teachers who could, if they made the necessary changes, become great!  If you think you have all these qualities, you might want to help change the world. No other profession has as much of an opportunity to make the world a better place.

Just to make it clear, I strongly urge anyone who is considering going into the avocation of education to not marry, or at least not have children. Your life will be full of your students’ needs, and that is like a VERY big family! 🙂  This is my personal feeling because I know that the 3 hardest jobs in the world are excellent parent, excellent spouse and excellent teacher.  Trying to juggle all three is extremely challenging!


The article I linked to is an interesting explanation (albeit partial) about why we procrastinate, but also why we do the things we shouldn’t do while ignoring the things that need to be done. Unfortunately, it’s partial as I said, but I think I managed to figure out another part of the puzzle.

When we go through school, we are always presented with a limited number of choices. It’s all nicely packaged to make it easy for us to consider the choices. The rare occasions in which we are presented with more than 2-5 choices come in the form of things like fill-in-the-blank exercises with a box of choices, or even without, or writing sentences and essays. Even in those situations, we’re generally given such a narrow scope to write on that it really doesn’t amount to much more than the FIB questions. Other than that, it’s a pretty safe, easy to understand world – so utterly different from reality. Everything is highly structured because, of course, people like structure. It gives us the illusion of comfort and safety and, thus, prevents us from being prepared for, well, that which we’ve not been prepared for.

For some people who, through outside intervention (family, friends, etc.) or because of a personal tendency in the way they think normally, stepping into the chaos of real life (or even university) is no big deal. Those people can still handle the huge variety of choices. But, for the rest of us, such an apparently lawless range of choices is daunting or terrifying. We want to retreat back into the world of a small set of choices because one thing school did NOT prepare us for is LIFE and the myriad of choices we have to cope with. Filling out a 1040EZ (that’s a US personal tax form), at a whopping 2 pages, becomes more than we can handle and we wait until the deadline to do and post it!

Some studies say that the higher a person’s intelligence, the better their decisions will be in a stress-free environment. BUT, in a stressful situation (life) the reverse becomes true – the higher your intelligence and stress, the less likely you are to be able to make good decisions. It turns out that your intelligence tends to prevent you from making good decisions because you can’t handle the stress! Did your teachers teach you how to handle stress? Did they teach you about abdominal breathing to relax? Did they teach you coping techniques? They didn’t, but they SHOULD have. Now, don’t go lynching your teacher – many of them don’t know how to cope, either!

I know that when I go shopping for something like shoes (which I have to choose carefully or else I’ll walk in pain forever), or even computer parts, if I don’t come prepared to take down notes, I will end up in a confused state and frustrate everyone around me. Is that even a stressful situation? No, unless I don’t take notes! I’ll go to store A, look at selections and think “Well, maybe this one, but I’d better go to those other stores” and by the time I’ve returned to store A, I can’t even remember which shoes I liked best, let alone which I haven’t even tried on yet! Then it begins – the dithering: walking back and forth between choices without doing anything that is actually constructive, looking around in confusion and whining to my wife before asking to go to another store!! This is a combination of problems including procrastination – I didn’t come prepared. I did not research what I wanted to buy so I’d know exactly what to do, and how much it should cost. I didn’t consider the way I should take notes in order not to confuse myself midstream. I didn’t break down different points of importance regarding the purchase – what I would consider serious selling points. And so on. So it wasn’t just procrastinating – it was lack of preparation.

I used to look at the dirty dishes sitting next to the sink and I’d get such a feeling of dread at the idea of doing THAT MANY dishes that I’d procrastinate. Now, of course, I have tactics that overcome that. First, I separate the dishes by type, neatly stacking up the plates, the bowls and grouping glasses, while putting the pots and pans in the sink to be done first and soaking all eating utensils. I know, I know, it sounds really anal!  This simultaneously makes the dishes appear to be fewer as well as more manageable. I have also learned that part of the problem is my MINDSET. If I go to the sink dreading what I’ll find, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If there are just a few dishes, “Ah, I’ll wait til later – this isn’t enough, (I hate washing dishes)”, then “Almost enough, I’ll check back later, (I hate washing dishes)”, and then, “OMG! There are TOO MANY DISHES! (run away from the dreaded task!)”. It’s a never-ending problem and I can remember dishes stacking up for at least a couple of days on a few occasions and, even in childhood, I remember the dread of JUST having to wash ONE dirty thermos until it got so moldy my mom had to force me! So, this was a combination of procrastination, visual overload, excuse-making and a destructive (negative) mindset which combined together to make me feel overwhelmed.

Teachers who get unexpected (but correct) answers from creative students who think outside the box that the teacher has tried to create may find themselves frustrated or having to deal with more than they had intended to – or, more often, ignoring it or making the student feel wrong (malignantly, benignly or negligently). It turns the teacher’s nicely boxed world into shreds when we answer with some other correct answer than the desired one – which may well be because the teacher wasn’t careful enough to define the parameters, or because there’s an exceptionally creative student in class – and the teacher is just as accustomed to structure and safety as the students. Many educational systems just aren’t designed to promote free-association and creativity because the makers feel that it’s just too difficult!

Also, teachers, you may find it helpful to remember that if the task you assigned is boring, the materials you use are boring, your methods are boring, (you get the idea), you should definitely stop being boring.  You are creating all sorts of problems, including poor attention, understanding, comprehension, retention and procrastination (people don’t like to do boring things).  I share with you this anecdote from Tom Layton:
“Many years ago a colleague came to me in frustration. She had a student who ‘simply cannot acquire vocabulary.’ Bring him in after school.

The first thing I noticed was a rolled up beat up copy of Hot Rod magazine in his back pocket. I opened it to a page that showed a hot rod engine. I pointed to one part of the engine and asked him what it was called and what it did. He told me, without hesitation, every part and its function.

Then I asked the teacher to name the same parts and tell me what they did. She could not name a single part nor did she know what it did despite just having every part identified for her.

‘One of you has difficulty learning new words, but it is not the young man.'”

From this simple example, we can see that the teacher had completely failed to engage the student, had made no effort to identify the student’s interests and, as a result, had mistakenly decided that the student had an inability to learn vocabulary.

So, our educational system doesn’t prepare us for all the myriad choices life will present us with, and that results in anxiety in people. The world is not neat and tidy, not simple, and definitely not what we were trained to face (which is to say, it’s not like school). Lack of choices in school makes us decision-averse in life. We cower behind the ABCD choices in the hopes that it will somehow make the big ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ1234567890 choices easier. Of course, that’s a recipe for disaster.

In the article I’ve linked to, the writer (a major procrastinator) talks about how he delays doing task after task in university until he ends up in a hypoglycemic state (ie: low blood sugar). This guy’s problem is not only did his educators not prepare him for life, or even university, but they also didn’t teach him the proper way to study, handle assignments, prioritize and, most importantly, break down a large and intimidating task into smaller ones that feel manageable and can have plans made to complete them.

So, the problem of being overwhelmed is because schools tend not to teach us how to break down a large task (such as, for example, a term paper or a big project) into smaller, easy-to-cope-with tasks, and they also tend not to teach us how to prioritize tasks, plan, problem-solve, and do other things that help make big things doable. Each teacher assumes a previous one has taught those skills when, in fact, a great number of life skills may never be explicitly taught in school, or are taught in such isolation from reality that students neither appreciate nor understand them.

If you want to read that author’s solutions for dealing with procrastination, click on his link at the bottom of his article.


Part of the reason we procrastinate is because we feel overwhelmed by the challenge – like my anecdote about washing dishes.  When that happens, you need to stop looking at the thing you need to do as one task; most things are rarely just one task.  Break it down into major sub-tasks and figure out what order to do them in.  If it’s still too much for you to face, divide the sub-tasks into smaller ones, and/or schedule things so you don’t do all of them in one go.

So, what can we do to help stop procrastinating? For some people, to-do lists, prioritized and then broken down into sub-tasks that you then define a schedule for is the way to go.  In NLP, this is called WAW (“What do you want?” aka your goal,  “Are you ready?” aka detailed plan, and  “When will you start?” aka scheduling).  If you feel driven when you have every task you must do clearly written down for you, this is a good idea.

It doesn’t appeal to everyone. Some of us just aren’t interested in making lists.  And some people are driven mad by lists, or avoid looking at them.  You don’t actually need lists for everything.  I didn’t make a single list to overcome my procrastination with dishes – I just broke what seemed to be a very big task into smaller ones by organizing the dishes into groups and prioritizing them.  For you folks, I suggest you just start learning how to break down large projects into lots of small, easy-to-complete tasks, doing it in little allotments of time, or organizing it so it doesn’t look like a giant, slimy, tentacled mess of headaches!

W.A.W. aka G.P.S.

NLP practitioners are pretty clever about using words, so I don’t know why they didn’t decide to call WAW GPS (Goal, Plan, Schedule), instead.  It sure fits like a glove and gives a clear sense of direction (pun intended)!

Goal! a.k.a. “What do you want?”

You should start by writing down what you want (thing, action, result, etc.) in as much detail and with as much specificity as possible.  NLP practitioners call it the outcome, and each task needed to make it real is called a goal, but I think you’ll survive if you just use goal and tasks, instead.

Bad: A convertible car.

Better: An aquamarine 2015 Mercedes Benz B-Class Electric Drive, with an all-leather and stainless steel convertible top.

The more details you can put into it, the better.  Research it, find out all the possibilities that are available, and write down what you want – you can always add more later.  Use words that are objective (meaning that, no matter what your mood, or who reads them, they mean the same thing, such as colors, materials, size, shape, etc.) instead of subjective (beautiful, cool, interesting, motivating, etc.).  More is better!

Planning a.k.a. “Are you ready?”

Make a detailed plan.  Go ahead, dig into it and figure out every aspect of what you need to do in order to make it yours.  Again, details, specificity and completeness are key.  Each task may need to be drilled down even further until there is absolute clarity – until you can have anyone do it for you!  Yes, it’ll take time, but success only comes before work in the dictionary!

Choose just one significant (ie: genuinely important) task at a time and then breaking that large task (which may look like a mountain to you) into a series of smaller tasks that don’t make you feel overwhelmed and aching to run to your video games, blog, your mommy’s hug or favorite mind-numbing chemical comfort (eg: chocolate, ice cream, alcohol, narcotics…).

If you can, find pictures that represent your goals.  Write things you can look at repeatedly throughout the day and look at them when you wake up, when you are eating, when you are ready for bed and, well, any other time you need to focus.

I’m going to be a little repetitive here.
You should be very careful to write down your outcome, and each goal (milestone), and do so in a very detailed, specific and complete way. It is absolutely critical that you choose your words carefully because if what goes in (to your mind) is wrong, then your milestone and, ultimately, your outcome isn’t going to be exactly what you wanted. This rule also applies to writing down your plans.

Why do I say this? Well, whether you think with words or pictures, if they aren’t absolutely right, then what results (your outcome/goal) isn’t going to be absolutely right. If you don’t believe me, then try this experiment on how to screw up achieving your goal.

Decide on something that you want to buy, but you’ll need a couple of years to save up money first. Write down a description of it exactly as you’d like it to be. Don’t forget ANY details! Now, once you’ve got that description, go out and find a photograph of it but make sure that SOMETHING in the photo (it could be the color, or the model) isn’t exactly what you want. Every day, be sure to stare often at that photograph so that you can see it as clearly with your eyes closed as opened. Memorize every little detail while imagining finally possessing it and how great that’s going to be! Build up a massive desire for it. Then, after you’ve done that for a couple of years and have the money to buy it, go out and buy it.

Do you know what will most likely happen? Instead of buying what you wrote in your description, you’ll buy what you saw in the picture.

No matter which way you decide to break down monster tasks into small ones, you’ll find it’ll help a lot in getting rid of procrastination. Oh, BTW, you may want to practice slow abdominal breathing in case you start having an anxiety attack!  PERSEVERE and SUCCEED!

I almost forgot to mention something.   The outcome you achieve.  There’s another word for it:  DESTINY.  Don’t screw it up. 🙂

Scheduling a.k.a. “When will you start?”

Once you’ve defined all the main tasks and each sub-task in great detail, figure out the order they need to be done in. If there’s something you don’t know how to do, you’ll need to spend a little time finding out about it.

When you’ve got the tasks prioritized (yep, that’s what you just did!), you can then figure out when you need to do each of them. Deadlines and scheduling are important! I suggest that, like the second article suggests, you should tackle each task in manageable chunks. If it’s something that’s going to take a long time, make a commitment to work on it X minutes or hours per day at a specific time.
Eliminate all distractions before you start.

After prioritizing your tasks, you need to do something hard – schedule them.  Estimate how long each task will take and which tasks can be done within the same time period.  Then what date you will start and finish need to be written on your plan.  Yes, I know, scheduling seems like a pain but, once you’ve got it all down in writing, then you have deadlines and everything is just so much following the dotted line.  It’s easy!

Get Started!

Now that you’ve got it all written out, get some R&R, or stage a little party for having completed the task of preparing to achieve your desired destiny.  You will start when your schedule says to start.

BTW, delay gratification until later. Whatever it is that you love doing, use it as your reward for accomplishing an individual task by allowing yourself to do it only after you’ve accomplished a goal, but don’t overdo it!  Gratification is another motivation for you – so don’t waste it by doing it any time you want.

When you complete a major task on your list, it’s time to have a little celebration but, again, don’t go crazy. Save the big party for when the whole thing is done.

Don’t forget that a realistic timeline is important.  Also, when you start feeling tired, take a breather.  Come back at it in a few minutes.  In fact, take a fiver every hour or so.

But, hey, if you’re really enjoying (you’re “in the zone” or “in flow”) what you’re doing, it’s okay to keep on doing it. In fact, it’ll improve the results and make it easier for you.  But, be sure to differentiate “zone” from “workaholism”, which will wear you down.


Another thing you can do is change how you FEEL about what you must do.  Remove any thoughts and words that are negative, and focus on how happy you’ll feel when it’s done (and you can go back to vegetating).  Instead of approaching something with a sense of displeasure, resentment or distress, turn your mind around and look forward to it.  Cheer yourself up and on!  It’s amazing how much power a constructive frame of mind has!


Eliminate distractions.  Set aside specific times of day when you just aren’t going to let anything short of a natural disaster pull you away from your scheduled tasks.  This may mean that you have to lock yourself in a room, go to the library to escape people, turn off your phone, disconnect Skype, IRC and YM!  You may have to tell your family that, during that time, you are in a different world and they should pretend that they can’t see or hear you, and they shouldn’t even TRY to bother you.

Anything that’s going to pull you away from what you need to do should be put away in a different area or room.  If it’s just too tempting, lock it up or ask someone to hold onto it for you until you’re done.


One great way to deal with stress is to relax.  Everyone has different ways of doing it, but you need to choose a method that isn’t going to leave you unable to carry on.  That means no alcohol, no drugs, and no high-speed driving!  Instead, read a book, watch a movie that makes you happy,  make love, take a nap, listen to music that calms you, meditate, pray, exercise or whatever else calm you down.

Try abdominal breathing, a.k.a. Qi Gong.  You can do it anywhere (although I don’t recommend the full program when you’re driving).  It’s simple, effective (the more you do it, the easier it becomes and can eventually work so quickly that only one or two breaths is enough) and can, quite literally, save your life or help you get a job.  When you’re stressed, your brain doesn’t work right.  This affects your higher-level cognitive abilities, especially concentration, memory, logic and creativity.  These are things you always need (even if it’s just a video game).

Some people say you need to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, or the reverse, but the point is to breathe.  Don’t breath into your rib cage, because it’ll limit how much you can take in – breathe down to below your navel.  Imagine your stomach is a balloon and use your diaphragm muscle to expand your lungs downward so you can take in more air.

Now, slow it down.  Eventually, you should be able to breathe in for 4 seconds, and out for 4 seconds, but don’t worry if it doesn’t seem possible, especially if you smoke or have asthma…or both.

The goal is to distract your attention so you can stop thinking and, as a result, relax.  Continue to control the speed of your breathing, but now you need to also focus on the feeling of your body breathing.  Notice each muscle involved and how your body moves.

Once you’ve got that, add in the sound of the air whooshing in and out.

Now add to your list of focuses the temperature of the air as it goes in, and as it comes out.

Not quite enough – add to that the humidity of the air.  Does your throat feel dry?  How about your nostrils?

If you’re into internal energy, imagine your “chi” moving in a circle, up your spine, into your brain, down your sternum to a point about 1″ below your navel, then to your rear and up again.

Repeated practice – I suggest at least 2-3 times a day – will yield a fast relaxation time, even under high-stress conditions eventually.   It can even help an insomniac get to sleep (insomniacs usually think too much at bed time).


Remember, you’re doing this to achieve your destiny.  Your future is in your hands!  If that makes you break into a cold sweat and shake in your boots, you’d better do some breathing right now.

The world is not your oyster.  It is your oyster with a giant pearl!

About My Education Articles


I am working on a series of articles about education and putting them up here, on Facebook and LinkedIn because I want feedback on how to make them better.  It is my hope that, through this feedback, I may gain valuable insights into how people think and what they need to help them with educational matters, as well as new knowledge that will help me improve the overall content and quality of my work.


The primary target audience is parents worldwide.  If you think about that, I have given myself a very big challenge:  how to write an article that will be accessible to almost everyone and, more importantly, how to make sure that they’ll actually be able to use the information effectively without it becoming such a burden for the average reader that their heads start spinning, they close their eyes and stop reading. This is not to say that parents are stupid, but I have to honestly acknowledge that reading for some people is not easy, and some techniques that a parent could be asked to use might be beyond their ability to perform for lack of knowledge, comprehension and/or skill.  There are many parents who are disadvantaged throughout the world, so I have to keep in mind the challenges they might face because of what I write.

The secondary target audience is novice teachers and administrators, as well as politicians, policy makers and others who don’t actually know a lot about education and need a point to start at in order to learn more about education.

I realize that it may not be feasible to address these two target audiences at once, and that at some point I may need to separate things.

I am not targeting academics, nor highly skilled educators and administrators who have dedicated themselves to progressive, transformational, and learner-development centered teaching with the possible goal of independent learning (learner-led development and learning), because they probably know more than I do and may not appreciate my populist approach to writing these articles.

For some articles, like the “Evaluating Schools” series, this will be almost exclusively targeted at parents, although I have been told that novice administrators and teachers might find them useful.  The “Evaluating Schools” article is actually intended for parents who are looking for a school but, I suppose, they could be used to help evaluate the school someone’s child is already at.


As a result, I am not going to use 3rd-person writing, nor will I have footnotes and bibliographical numbers sprinkled throughout, and I don’t want these articles to be boring, clinical or dry.  I hope that they will edify, aid, pique curiosity and perhaps occasionally make someone smile or laugh.

Since this is for public consumption, not an academic journal or a university presentation, I am not citing resources. Don’t see that I’m achieving those goals?  Then please provide me with suggestions on how to achieve them.


I am doing this because I have observed a serious lack of awareness amongst parents, policy makers, novice teachers and even classically trained teachers and administrators about certain things, like how to determine if a school is good, whether a teacher is an excellent one, and what a teacher can do to improve. Since it is hard to improve education in an area without parental comprehension, consensus and buy-in, and that is hard without socialization, my primary target is parents. I consider the most difficult targets to be certain administrators, politicians, business people and union leaders (but, certainly, I am not willing to say all or even 50% of any of these groups fits the category, and there are those amongst teachers and parents who are also very difficult).

Parents, policy makers and politicians, as well as business people, tend to make mistakes when it comes to education.  They may think: “What was good enough for me is good enough for the kids”, “Drop ’em into the wild and they’ll either get eaten or turn out great!”, “We need more workers!”, or any of a number of inane and selfish rationales to keep education the way it is, all the while claiming that public education is in good shape.  Yet, if public education is so great, why do the rich people send their kids to the most expensive schools and universities, the middle class who can afford it send their kids to private schools they hope are good enough, and the rest rarely have any choice?  No, even educators who are classically trained may fail to see the “forest because of the trees”, and we must be honest and say that corruption, selfish interests and even more destructive ones currently destructively impact education worldwide.

Honestly, I believe that education is the key to improving the world.  I believe that, with appropriate changes worldwide, we can turn this sinking ship of humanity into a pinnacle of amazement.  I do not believe that politicians and policy makers can ever hope to achieve what I dream of without buy-in and assistance from parents, teachers and administrators who care, because the money-driven influence of businesses will always force compromises that will not always (or, perhaps, often) be in the best interests of humanity’s future (although most certainly they will be to their short-term financial benefit).

Request for Help
Recognizing my own limitations, I realize that what I’ve produced has problems and that I’ve missed some things that are needed. I am trying to make sure that no one article is so long that people run away from it as if it feels like a burden, yet not so short that it is fluff, either.

I am hoping to find people who are willing to provide me with feedback. If you are willing to help me attempt to improve the world (not to sound lofty, but it’s truly my goal), please make a comment below, on Facebook or LinkedIn (Glenn McGrew II).  I would greatly appreciate it if you keep the feedback constructive, down-to-Earth and civil.  And practical!  Theory is wonderful – but it is only theory, not law or axiom – and it tends to lack something when applied to reality.

“Be the change you want to see.” Oh, what a difficult thing that is! 🙂


I am not targeting any particular stage of education.  There are reasons for this which I will eventually make clear.  If I make a comment about a particular age or stage, I will try to make that clear – but I might forget.

I have seen people say “I don’t want my children to be experimented on!”  I would like to point out that, for a theory to be proven or disproven, it MUST be through experimentation.  No matter how often you run a theory through the experimental lab in your mind, it will never catch all of the nuances and challenges that we humans put into everything.  We over-complicate, disrupt, distract, devalue and generally make a mess of even the best of theories and hopes.

In other words, if there is no PROPER experimentation, there can be no refinement, no discoveries of what works, and no hope to improve education, or the world.  Did not virtually all of the inventions of the last several hundred years not come as a result of experimentation – sometimes even life-threatening and life-taking ones?

You might say: “Well, then, I’ll home-school!”  Great.  Then YOU will be the experimenter because you probably don’t really know what you’re doing, and you’ll only have yourself to blame for each mistake you make. 😛


These articles are a culmination of my experiences in education, my research about it and conversations with educators  and those in related fields, as well as deep thought on the subject.  However, I don’t know everything about education.  I seek to improve my understanding on as frequent a basis as is humanly possible, balancing earning money and my family with this.


My experiences may not match those of other educators, so I may not have envisioned things that should be in my articles.  Likewise, just because you have never experienced things I write about (especially corrupt practices in education) doesn’t mean they don’t exist – I write based on the reality I have experienced.


So, if you have contributions to make that might fill in holes in what I present, I welcome and encourage them!  Please don’t expect, however, that I’ll remove things I know to be true just because you have never encountered them.  Nevertheless, you’re welcome to share your opinion, as long as you are civil and respectful.

Evaluating Schools: Trophies, Plaques and Other Displays of Achievements / Mengevaluasi Sekolah: Penunjukan Piala, Plakat dan Penghargaan Lain


One common thing that parents feel represents the quality of a school is award cabinets full of trophies and walls covered with certificates and plaques of achievement.  Perhaps this comes from the fact that professionals (doctors, lawyers, scientists, etc.) put their degrees and certificates on display in their offices.

>>>Salah satu hal yang sering dilihat ortu karena dianggap menunjukkan mutunya sekolah adalah lemari2 penghargaan penuh dengan piala, dan tembok yang  ditutupi plakat dan sertifikat penhargaan.  Mungkin ini berasal dari fakta bahwa para ahli2 (dokter, pengacara, ilmuwan, dll.) memasang ijazah2 dan sertifikat2 mereka di dinding kantor untuk diperlihatkan para tamu.

Unfortunately, it’s not the same thing.  What those experts put on their walls represents their own achievements and not that of the place they work in.  Looking at trophies to evaluate the quality of a school is the same thing – it tells you about individuals or even teams that earned them, but it rarely tells you about the schools.

>>>Sayang sekali, tidak sama.  Apa yang ditaruh di dinding oleh para ahli2 mewakili pencapaian mereka sendiri, dan bukan pencapaian tempat kerjanya.  Melihat semua penghargaan itu untuk menilai mutu sekolahnya sama saja dengan menilai instansi menurut ijazah orang – itu akan menjelaskan tentang orang2 ataupun tim yang punya, tapi jarang tentang sekolahnya.

So, how can you tell if a display is an indication of the quality of a school?  Below are several factors that should be evaluated together.  Some items will require investigation on your part, and you may not be able to get information for some of them.  I have separated the criteria into three distinct topics: Awards, Award-Givers, and Competitions.  To help you, I have added:

>>>Jadi, bagaimana dapat mengetahui apakah tempat pameran penghargaan adalah indikator kemutuan sebuah sekolah?  Dibawah ini adalah beberapa faktor yang sebaiknya dievaluasikan bersama.  Ada beberapa item yang akan perlu investigasi dari kami, dan mungkin kamu tidak akan dapat menemukan informasi untuk beberapa diantaranya.  Saya telah memisahkannya ke dalam 3 topik: Penghargaan, Pemberi Penghargaan dan Lomba.  Demi membantumu, saya tambah:


Source: Where you can most likely get the information. “All” means  school, all media formats including the Internet, award giver, independent reviewers, NGOs, government, libraries, etc.

>>>Sumber:  Kemungkinan besar dimana informasinya berada.  “Semua” berarti sekolah2, semua media berita termasuk Internet, pemberi penghargaan, penilai merdeka, NGO, pemerintahan, perpustakaan, dll.

Difficulty: How challenging it will be to obtain the information.  There are various considerations for difficulty, including how much searching and researching you’ll have to do, how likely it is that the information exists, and whether there are people trying to conceal it.

>>>Kesulitan:  Betapa susah mendapatkan informasinya.  Ada beberapa faktor kesukarannya, termasuk berapa banyak pencarian dan penelitian yang harus dilakukan, betapa mungkin informasi memang ada, dan apakah ada orang yang berusaha menyembunyikannya.

Value: The relative value of the information in your choosing a school.  This value is affected by the sources and difficulty, as well as its own value.  Objective information (data) is far more valuable than subjective information (opinion).

>>>Nilai:  Nilai informasi yang didapat dalam proses memilih sekolah.  Nilai ini terpengaruhi oleh sumber dan kesulitan, apalagi nilai tersendirinya.  Informasi yang obyektif (data) jauh lebih berharga daripada yang subyektif (seperti pendapat).


Please note that these three values may vary from place to place because of a number of different factors, thus these are just estimates.

>>>Tolong perhatikan bahwa ke-3 indikator ini dapat bervariasi dari tempat ke tempat oleh karena ada beberapa faktor yang beranekaragaman yang dapat mempengaruhinya, lalu ini hanya perkiraan2.


Section 1: Awards/Penghargaan

This category is the easiest to evaluate because almost all of the information you need is in front of you in the awards cabinet, and  the rest you can request from the  school.  Despite the ease of evaluation, it can actually give you some valuable statistical information.

>>>Kategori ini yang paling gampang dievaluasi karena hampir semua informasi yang dibutuhkan ada di depan anda di lemari penghargaan, dan sisanya dapat diminta dari sekolahnya.  Walaupun mudah dinilai, ini dapat memberikan informasi statistis yang berharga.


#1.1: Student Enrollment Vs. Recipient Percentage / Pendaftaran Murid Vs. Persentase Penerima

Source: school;   Difficulty: easy;   Value: medium

Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah;   Nilai: sedang

How many students were enrolled at that school in each age group/grade level as well as overall each year and what percentage of the student population/age/grade level won something?

>>>Berapa banyak murid terdaftar di sekolah itu dalam setiap umur/tingkat kelas dan dalam setiap tahun, dan berapalah persentase populasi murid2 yang memenangkan sesuatu?
The ratio of students enrolled compared to students who won can be an important indicator of the quality of the school (or, it can indicate the quality of their entrance requirements and/or the students who are attracted to that school).   If looking at a narrow age group (one to two years), the results may be far less representative because each child’s abilities can vary widely from another in different areas, and looking at a grade level’s ratio is similarly misleading.  If only certain strata (such as particular ages, grades or socio-economic groups) are winning awards, this indicates that there may be a problem, or that the results are most likely not attributable to the  school.

>>>Rasio murid2 yang terdaftar dibandingkan murid2 yang menang dapat menjadi indikator penting mengenai mutu sekolahnya (atau, itu dapat menunjukkan mutunya standar penerimaan murid baru di sekolah itu, dan/atau mutu murid yang tertarik dengan sekolahnya secara umum).  Bila melihat murid didasarkan umur, dan hanya melihat murid dengan selisih umur paling 1-2 tahun, hasilnya dapat menjadi jauh lebih tidak mewakili oleh karena kemampuan setiap anak dibandingkan yang lain dalam macam2 mata pelajaran bisa sangat bervariasi, dan kalau melihat rasio didasarkan tingkat kelas juga tidak begitu tepat.  Apa bila hanya ada lapisan2 tertentu (seperti umur2 , tingkat kelas atau lapisan2 sosial-keuangan) dapat memenangkan penghargaan, ini menunjukkan bahwa mungkin ada masalah, atau hasilnya tidak berkat sekolahnya.


#1.2: Recipient Breadth / Keanekaragaman Pemenang

Source: school;   Difficulty: easy;   Value: medium
Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah;   Nilai: sedang

How many different students/teams won those trophies each year?

>>>Berapa murid/tim yang berbeda memenangkan penghargaannya setiap tahun?

The more different winners there are, the better.  If a small number of people earn trophies each year, especially if you see the same names again and again, the less likely it is because of the school.  When there are only a few names, it’s usually especially gifted students in that case, and they may not be dependent on their school to excel.  In other words, when you see the same names again and again, year after year, they are not usually representative of the school’s quality but of their own.

>>>Semakin beranekaragam pemenangnya, semakin bagus.  Jika hanya ada beberapa orang yang memenangkan penghargaan setiap tahun, terutama kalau ada banyak yang diraih oleh orang2 yang sama, semakin kecil kemukinan prestasi itu gara2 sekolahnya.  Biasanya, dalam situasi seperti itu, merekalah murid2 yang sangat berbakat, dan mereka mungkin tidak tergantung pada sekolahnya untuk meraih prestasi.  Dengan kata lain, ketika kamu melihat nama2 yang sama berkali2, bertahun2, mereka biasanya tidak menunjukkan mutu sekolahnya tapi dirinya sendiri.


#1.3: Subject and Recipient Breadth / Keanekaragaman Topik dan Penerima

Source: school;   Difficulty: easy;   Value: high
Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah;   Nilai: tinggi

How many awards were won by different students/teams in different subjects/skills each year?

>>>Berapa banyak  penghargaan dimenangkan oleh murid/tim yang berbeda dalam mapel/ketrampilan setiap tahun?
The more different types of subjects and skills there are that are represented by the awards, the better, especially if they aren’t just sports awards.  A wide variety shows that the students and school don’t only choose and win in certain types of competitions, but are willing to take on different types of challenges and have a variety of skill sets and knowledge.

>>>Semakin banyak mapel dan ketrampilan yang diwakili oleh penghargaan2 yang ada, semakin bagus, terutama kalau bukan hanya di bidang olah raga.  Beranekaragaman menunjukkan bahwa murid2 dan sekolah tidak hanya memilih beberapa macam lomba, justru mereka rela bersaing di tantangan tipe bermacam2, dan mempunyai kemampuan yang bervariasi disertai pengetahuan yang luas.


#1.4: Total Awards & Awards per Year / Jumlah Penghargaan & Penghargaan per Tahun

Source: school;   Difficulty: easy;   Value: low
Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah;   Nilai: rendah

Look at the number of trophies overall and how many were won each year.

>>>Hitunglah penghargaan.  Berapa yang dimenangkan setiap tahu?


The more awards received each year, the better.    If there are many rewards earned every year, that’s great.  If some years have lots of awards and others have few, that’s not as good.  If there are a large number of years with few or no awards,or it looks like a roller coaster on a graph, you should ask questions.

>>>Semakin banyak setiap tahun, semakin bagus.  Apabila ada banyak penghargaan setiap tahun, itu hebat.  Kalau ada tahun2 dengan banyak, dan ada dengan sedikit, itu kurang bagus.  Jika ada cukup banyak  tahun dimana tidak ada atau hanya ada beberapa penghargaan, atau jumlah per tahun ketika dijadikan grafik terlihat seperti gunung2, maka kamu harus bertanya.


#1.5: Number of Years of Achievement / Jumlah Tahun denga Penghargaan

Source: school;   Difficulty: easy;   Value: low
Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah;   Nilai: rendah

For how many years does the school have awards?

>>>Untuk berapa tahun ada penghargaan2?


Obviously, awards won every year, combined with the other factors, is a better sign than if there are some years in which there are no awards, but you should ask why some years don’t have awards.  It is possible that a disaster, for example, prevented participation.

>>>Jelas, kalau ada penghargaan2 setiap tahun, dikombinasikan dengan faktor2 lain, itulah petunjuk yang lebih bagus daripada ada tahun2 dimana tidak ada penghargaan, tetapi kamu sebaiknya menanyakan kenapa tidak ada penghargaan.  Mungkin, contohnya, ada malapetaka yang menghalangi partisipasi murid2nya.


#1.6: Participation Acknowledgement / Penghargaan Partisipasi

Source: school;   Difficulty: easy; Value:   low
Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah; Nilai:   rendah

How many of the awards are actually just acknowledging participation?

>>>Berapa banyak penghargaan sebenarnya hanya mengakui kehadiran murid?


Acknowledgements of participation are NOT awards but are just like a notice of attendance.  Unfortunately, in countries like Indonesia, these notices are often given even to people who arrived very late, left very early, or didn’t attend but were signed up.   It is worthless in evaluating quality and – while it may show the number of students who participated, it may actually show that the school’s management may be willing to try to make the  school look good by filling up empty space with worthless papers.  If, however, the school keeps detailed records about all the entries into competitions, and those records are available for public scrutiny, the attendance data can indicate student willingness to participate in competitions, which is a positive indicator.  Lack of participation by most students sometimes indicates poor self-esteem and/or an unwillingness to take risks, which may reflect on the school’s ability to foster confidence.

>>>Pengakuan partisipasi bukanlah penghargaan tapi hanyalah bukti kehadiran.  Sayang sekali, di negara seperti Indonesia, bukti ini seringkali diberikan kepada peserta walaupun mereka datang telat banget, pulang jauh lebih awal, ataupun tidak hadir sama sekali.  Kertas itu tidak berarti mengenai mutu dan – walaupun itu mungkin menunjukkan jumlah murid yang berpeserta, itu juga mungkin menunjukkan bahwa manajmen sekolah tersebut rela membuat sekolahnya terlihat bagus dengan mengisi tempat2 kosong dengan kertas yang tidak berharga.  Namun, jika sekolahnya punya informasi lengkap tentang semua yang terdaftar dalam lomba2, dan siapapun dapat menelitinya  dengan seksama, informasi kehadirannya dapat menunjukkan betapa rela para murid berpartisipasi dalam lomba2, dan itu bagus.  Kalau kebanyakan murid tidak berpartisipasi, itulah terkadang indikator bahwa ada masalah kePDan dan/atau ada ketidakrelaan mengambil resiko, dan itulah mungkin petunjuk tentang kemampuan sekolahnya membuat para murid PD.


#1.7: Awards without Names / Penghargaan tanpa Nama

Source: school;   Difficulty: easy;   Value: low
Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah;   Nilai: rendah

How many of the awards don’t have the winner’s name on them?

>>>Berapa penghargaan tidak ada cantuman nama pemenangnya?


Lack of names on awards isn’t always a bad thing, but if a fair number of awards don’t have names on them, this may show that the quality of the competitions was poor, or the contest didn’t have a lot of funding, although there are certainly other reasons, such as a lack of attention to detail, or –  rarely – fake awards.

>>>Ketidakberadaan nama pemenangnya tidak selalu indikator buruk,  tapi jika ada cukup banyak penghargaan tanpa nama, ini dapat menunjukkan mutu lomba2nya jelek, atau lombanya tidak dapat cukup banyak dana, namun ada beberapa alasan lain, seperti kurang teliti, atau – jarang – penghargaannya palsu).



Section 2: Award-Givers/Pemberi Penghargaan

This category is much more difficult to evaluate, especially if involved parties want to conceal affiliations, but the results can give you a very good idea of the true worth of awards, as well as an insight into the transparency and honesty of all involved.  The information may be available from the school, libraries and media sources (eg: newspapers), the award-giving organization, and/or a governmental body with the right of oversight.

>>>Kategori ini jauh lebih susah dievaluasikan, terutama kalau ada yang terlibat yang tidak ingin afiliasinya terbongkar, namun hasil penelitian dapat menjelaskan nilai penghargaan, apalagi memberikan informasi lebih lanjut tentang ketransparenan dan kejujuran semua yang terlibat.  Informasi dapat dicari di sekolahnya, perpustakaan dan sumber media (contoh: koran2), organisasi yang memberikan penghargaannya, dan/atau badan pemerintahan yang berwenang.


#2.1: Types of Award Givers / Macam Pemberi Penghargaan

Source: all;   Difficulty: easy to difficult (affiliation may be concealed);   Value: medium to high
Sumber: semua;   Kesulitan: mudah sampai susah;   Nilai: sedang sampai tinggi

Who gave out and who signed the awards (ie: The school you’re in? Another school?  A business? An educational institution? An individual? A governmental board or committee?  [if yes, is it affiliated with this school?] )

>>>Siapa pemberi dan siapa yang menandatangani penghargaan2nya (Sekolah itu sendiri? Sekolah lain? Sebuah usaha? Sebuah instansi pendidikan?  Seorang? Sebuah badan atau dewan pemerintahan? [kalau ya, apakah terafiliasi dengan sekolah itu?])?


If the award is from the school you’re looking at, it may be that the competition was an internal one only, which decreases the award’s value, or there may not have been an actual competition at all – the school was trying to boost student moral or just be nice.  If the award is from an affiliated school, this also decreases the value of the award, but if it is from an unaffiliated school or, better yet, a rival, this is positive.  If it is from a business, educational institution or part of the government, this is very positive.  Awards from individuals may or may not hold value, depending on several factors (e.g.:  the reason for the award; whether the giver is associated with the school, such as a financial supporter, or related to the winner; etc.).

>>>Apabila ada penghargaan dari sekolah yang kamu sedang meneliti, mungkin saja itu lomba untuk muridnya saja, dan itu membuat nilai penghargaannya kurang bagus, atau mungkin tidak ada lomba sama sekali karena sekolahnya ingin meningkatkan kePDan murid dengan menunjukkan sesuatu yang bagus tentangnya, atau mungkin juga kebaikan saja.  Jika penghargaannya dari sebuah sekolah yang terafiliasi dengan sekolah tsb., ini juga mengurangi nilai penghargaannya, namun kalau itu dari sekolah yang tidak terikat sekolah tsb, atau lebih bagus lagi dari sekolah saingan, itu lebih bernilai.  Kalau dari perusahaan, institusi pendidikan atau bagian pemerintahan, ini biasanya sangat bagus.  Penghargaan2 dari orang tidak tentu ada nilai, tergantung beberapa faktor (contoh: alasan untuk penghargaan; hubungan pemberi dengan sekolahnya, seperti pendana atau berikatan dengan pemenang; dll.).


#2.2:  Unaffiliated Award Givers / Pemberi Penghargaan yang Tidak Terafiliasi

Source: all;   Difficulty: easy (once 2.1 is completed);   Value: medium to high
Sumber: semua;   Kesulitan: mudah (setelah 2.1 selesai);   Nilai: sedang sampai tinggi

From how many of those external sources were there awards?

>>>Ada berapa sumber luar untuk semua penghargaannya?


In other words, what percentage of the awards came from sources other than the school, its supporters and its affiliates?  The larger the percentage, the better.

>>>Dengan kata lain, persentase berapa penghargaan berasal dari sumber2 yang tidak terhubung dengan sekolahnya?   Semakin besar persentase, semakin bagus.


#2.3: Credibility of Unaffiliated Award Givers / Kredibilitas Pemberi Penghargaan yang Tidak Terafiliasi

Source: all;   Difficulty: medium to hard (depending on culture and risks to involved parties);   Value: high
Sumber: semua;   Kesulitan: sedang sampai tinggi;   Nilai: tinggi

How many of those external sources are credible and respected?  How many are experts in the areas awarded?

>>>Berapa diantara semua sumbernya diakui dan dihormati?  Berapa diantaranya memang ahli dalam bidang yang diuji?


Obviously, sources with a poor reputation or which are not expert in the area that was tested are a poorer indicator of the quality of the winners than those places with good reputations, especially if experts in the field of the competition are directly involved.

>>>Jelas, sumber dengan reputasi yang buruk atau tidak ahli dalam bidang yang diuji bukanlah petunjuk kemutuan pemenangnya, terutama kalau dibandingkan dengan sumber2 yang bereputasi bagus, apalagi kalau ada ahli2 dalam bidang2 lomba yang membantu dengan lomba dari awal sampai selesai.


Section 3:  Competitions / Lomba

Some things in this section may be easy to evaluate while others may prove extremely difficult.  The sources of information and the challenges in obtaining the information will basically be the same as the second section.  The only significant difference is the range of difficulty is much broader, and the quality of the results will vary as to how much they reveal.

>>>Ada beberapa hal di seksi ini yang mungkin dapat dievaluasikan dengan gampang tapi ada yang lain yang mungkin amat susah.  Sumber2 informasi dan tantangannya mendapatkan informasinya akan sama seperti seksi ke2.  Perbedaannya yang signifikan adalah keanekaragaman kesulitan yang jauh lebih variatif, dan mutu hasilnya dengan betapa banyak yang dijelaskan.


#3.1: Pre-Contest Availability of Scoring System and Rules / Penyediaan Pra-lomba Rubrik Nilai dan Peraturan Pra-Lomba

Source: school, award giver, media;   Difficulty: easy;   Value: medium
Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah;   Nilai: sedang

Pre-competition, were the standards for scoring and rules for the contest made available to the contestants well in advance?  Was availability equal for all invitees, or did certain invitees get preferential treatment?

>>>Pra-lomba, apakah peraturan lomba disertai rujukan penilaian disediakan untuk semua peserta jauh sebelum hari lombanya?  Apakah persediaannya sama untuk semua yang diundang, ataukah beberapa diantaranya dapat informasinya lebih dulu?

If the standards and rules are not made available well ahead of the contest date, then clearly the competition’s quality and value is questionable.  Students and their coaches cannot properly prepare if they don’t have this information.  If only certain contestants receive them in a timely manner, and others receive it too late or not at all, this indicates incompetence, a lack of professionalism or cheating on the part of the committee and staff of the competition.  Unequal or preferential distribution of this information is a red flag that may indicate lack of professionalism or worse.

>>>Apabila peraturan lomba dan rujukan penilaian tidak disediakan jauh sebelum hari lombanya, jelas mutunya dan nilainya lomba itu dapat dipertanyakan.  Murid2 dan pelatihnya tidak dapat siap2 dengan benar jika informasi itu tidak ada.  Kalau ada peserta2 tertentu yang mendapatkan semua informasi ini pada waktu yang benar,  tapi ada yang lain yang mendapatkannya telat atau tidak dapat, ini berarti ada masalah ketidamampuan, kekurangan profesionalisme ataupun kecurangan dari pihak komitenya dan stafnya lomba.  Persediaan yang tidak dilakukan secara adil dapat menunjukkan ada masalah profesionalism atau lebih buruk.


#3.2: Pre-Contest Help / Bantuan Pra-Lomba

Source: school;   Difficulty: easy;   Value: medium
Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah;   Nilai: sedang

What kind of coaching and help from their own school did students receive in preparation for competitions?

>>>Pelatihan dan bantuan macam apa yang diberi kepada murid2 sebelum masuk lomba2?


Are coaches friendly and helpful; provide constructive, kind feedback using uplifting words and phrases; and do they promote creativity and flexibility; offer regular practice sessions that are of a reasonable duration, and build up key skills needed for the contest; work with contestants on both a group and individual basis; and insist on reasonable rules for practice, sleep and study?  If so, this shows that the school is developing  the quality,  character, ability, readiness, social skills and emotional maturity, which is good.  The absence of things like this shows that the school may not be concerned with the development of students as a complete person and may focus too much on certain attributes, which will result in an imbalanced student.  If you observe destructive behavior, like negative reinforcement of behavior such as insults, demeaning comments  and rude teasing, this  is a very bad indicator and should be investigated to find out of it is limited to just particular individuals or is standard practice for the school.

>>>Apakah para pelatih ramah dan berguna; menyediakan saran yang membangun, mendorong dan mengembangkan dengan kata2 baik; dan apakah mereka mengembangkan kreatifitas dan fleksibilitas; menawarkan sesi2 pelatihan secara rutin yang jarak waktunya wajar, dan mengembangkan kemampuan pokok yang dibutuhkan lombanya; bekerjasama dengan para peserta secara grup maupun individu; dan mendorong peraturan yang wajar dan masuk akal untuk pelatihan, tidur dan pembelajaran?  Kalau begitu, ini menunjukkan bahwa sekolahnya sedang mengembangkan mutu, watak,  kemampuan, kesiapan, kemampuan sosial, dan kedewasaan emosi, dan itu bagus.  Kekurangan hal2 seperti ini menunjukkan bahwa sekolah itu mungkin tidak mempedulikan pengembangan murid2 secara utuh dan mungkin terlalu terfokus kepada hal2 tertentu,  dengan hasilnya murid2nya tidak akan berkembang  dengan maksimal ataupun secara utuh.  Kalau kamu melihat sikap yang merusak, penghinaan, pengejekan maupun penggodaan,  inilah indikator yang  sangat buruk dan harus diteliti untuk menemukan apakah ini masalah orang2 tertentu atau memang ini cara sekolahnya.


#3.3: Judges (Number, Qualifications, Final Decision-maker) / Juri (Jumlah, Kualifikasi, Pemutus Akhir

Source: all;   Difficulty: medium;   Value: medium
Sumber: semua;   Kesulitan: sedang;   Nilai: sedang

How many judges were involved in the live scoring of participants, what qualifications did they possess, and was there one who had the right to make the final decision?

>>>Ada berapa juri yang menilai penampilan para peserta secara langsung, kualifikasi mereka apa, dan apakah ada satupun diantaranya yang berhak keputusan terakhir?


Any competition that wants to look credible must have a panel of judges when live scoring is needed.  One judge is poor, even if the judge is an external expert; two judges is far too often standard and can lead to scoring problems; whereas three or more judges can provide a balanced result,  especially if they are all experts in the areas being evaluated.  If each judge is an expert in one particular area that’s being scored, then that reduces the value of the awards.  If one judge has the final say on who wins, and that person votes completely differently than all the other judges, that is a bad sign.  If the judges have no qualifications and/or experience in the areas being scored, that is quite bad.  A panel of judges who are from the school (or particular participants/schools) or somehow associated with it reduces the value and credibility of the results, just as judges from other schools which participated may also damage the value and credibility.  For the best results, all judges should have no affiliation with neither the hosts of the competition nor the participants, should possess expertise and experience in all of the areas being  tested, and the panel of judges should consist at least 3 experts.  In addition, no one judge, or member of the contest’s committee, should be given the right of making the final decision, much less being able to overturn the majority vote – resolution should be achieved through discussion and agreement.  Although judges may be honest, they are often swayed by personal feelings for their own students.

>>>Lomba apapun yang ingin dilihat terpercaya harus ada juri dengan beberapa anggota ketika harus ada penilaian langsung.   Satu juri jelek, walaupun orang itu ahli dari luar sekolahnya; dua juri sering standart tapi dapat bermasalah; kalau ada 3 atau lebih, itu dapat menghasilkan nilai yang seimbang, terutama  kalau mereka semua ahli dalam bidang yang dinilai.   Apabila setiap juri adalah ahli dalam satu dari beberapa bidang yang dinilai,  berarti hasilnya kurang berharga.  Apabila ada satu juri dengan hak pemutusan terakhir, dan orang itu memilih jauh berbeda dari semua juri lain, itu tanda buruk.  Kalau ada anggota jurinya yang tidak punya ijazah dan/atau pengalaman sesuai dengan bidang yang  dinilai,  itu buruk.  Apabila semua juri dari sekolahnya atau punya ikatan apapun dengan sekolah atau peserta,  itu membuat hasilnya kurang terpercaya, apalagi kalau ada juri dari sekolah lain yang diwakili peserta.  Untuk hasil terbaik, semua anggota juri tidak punya ikatan apapun dengan pengada lomba dan pesertanya, punya kemampuan dan pengalaman dalam semua bidang yang dinilai, dan minimal ada 3 anggota juri.   Di tambah dengan, tidak ada juri, ataupun anggota dari komite lomba, yang punya hak pemutusan terakhir, ataupun hak untuk menolak suara kebanyakan juri – hasilnya harus didapatkan melalui diskusi dan dengan persetujuan semua yang berhak memutuskan pemenang2nya.  Walaupun jurinya jujur, mereka seringkali terpengaruhi oleh perasaan pribadi mengenai murid2nya sendiri.


For example, there have been several occasions where I was a judge of a competition involving English, yet the other judges did not have the requisite competency in English to accurately score the participants.  This forced me to pay more attention to their English and less to the other areas being scored and, in a couple of contests, I had to completely ignore everything else.

>>>Contohnya, banyak kali saya menjadi juri lomba bahasa Inggris, namun ada juri lain yang tidak cukup mahir dalam bahasa Inggris sampai nilai2 dari mereka akan kurang benar.  Secara terpaksa, saya harus lebih fokus ke bahasa Inggris setiap peserta daripada kemampuan2 lain dan,  dalam beberapa lomba, saya harus mengabaikan kemampuan2 lain agar dapat menilai bahasanya dengan baik.


#3.4: Judge Affiliations / Afiliasi Juri

Source: all;   Difficulty: hard;   Value: high
Sumber: semua;   Kesulitan:  tinggi;   Nilai: tinggi

Were the judges people from the school, associated with it somehow, or completely independent  of it?  Were they associated with other schools that participated?

>>>Apakah ada juri yang dari sekolah itu, ada ikatan dengan sekolahnya (seperti sponsor, mitra, sekolah dari satu grup, atau apakah tidak ada ikatan sama sekali?  Apakah ada juri yang punya ikatan dengan sekolah lain yang diwakili peserta?


Any time judges are members of the host – even if they are very fair and neutral – this opens the door for people to question the results that favor participants from the host school or those of schools affiliated with them.  Ideally, all judges should be selected from external sources that have no connection to the contest host, and should not be affiliated with schools that are represented by contestants, either.  If the host is unable to find external  experts, it should be made public knowledge that the judge(s) has an affiliation and was chosen solely because there were no alternatives.  In addition, the host should be prepared to be criticized, especially post-contest, and respond fairly and transparently.

>>>Kapanpun juri dari yang mengadakan lombanya – walaupun mereka adil dan netral – ini akan membuat orang berspekulasi dan ragu2 akan hasil apabila ada murid dari sekolah yang mengadakannya, ataupun dari yang terafiliasi dengannya.  Secara ideal, semua juri dipilih dari sumber2 luar yang tidak ada ikatan apapun dengan tuan rumah lombanya, bahkan termasuk sekolah yang diwakili muridnya.  Jika tuan rumahnya tidak berhasil menemukan ahli dari luar, itu harus diumumkan bahwa anggota juri tersebut ada afiliasi dan terpilih hanya karena tidak ada alternatif.  Ditambah dengan,  tuan rumah lombanya  harus siap menerima kritik, terutama pasca-lomba, dan balas dengan adil dan transparan.


#3.5: Post-Competition Access to Materials and Results; Right of Query /Pasca-Lomba : Hak Melihat Materi dan Hasil ; Hak Tanya

Source: all;   Difficulty: medium;   Value: medium
Sumber: semua;   Kesulitan: sedang;   Nilai: sedang

Post-competition, were the written materials and test results available for perusal by the public and experts?  Did they have the right to ask questions about the results and materials?

>>>Pasca-lomba, apakah materi2 tertulis dan hasil ujian2 tersedia untuk diperiksa oleh masyarakat umum maupun ahli?  Apakah mereka berhak mempertanyakan hasil2 dan materi2?


If the materials and test results are not made available  for review by the public, this may indicate that the school feels there are  matters of proprietary materials that they don’t want stolen but, most likely, this indicates that there is a matter of honor of someone who made errors or something is possibly even wrong – perhaps even criminally.  If the public cannot receive answers to reasonable questions and criticisms about the materials, and especially the results, this may mean a lack of flexibility, transparency or willingness to be criticized, but it may also indicate that something is wrong, especially if it is clear that there are significant problems with the materials and/or results.

>>>Apabila materi2 dan hasilnya tidak dapat dilihat oleh orang umum, ini mungkinlah mengindikasikan bahwa sekolahnya merasa ada masalah bahan materi yang rahasia sekolahnya yang tidak diinginkan dicuri namun, lebih mungkin lagi, inilah masalah kehormatan orang yang salah atau mungkin ada semacam kesalahan – bahkan mungkin ada tindakan kriminal.  Jika masyarakat umum tidak boleh mendapatkan jawaban untuk pertanyaan dan kritik mereka tentang materi2, dan terutama hasilnya, ini mungkin masalah kekakuan, ketransparanan ataupun ketidakrelaan dikritik, tapi ini mungkin juga menunjukkan bahwa ada yang tidak beres, terutama kalau sudah jelas bahwa ada masalah2 yang cukup besar dengan materi2 dan/atau hasilnya.


#3.6:  Access to Deliberation Process / Hak Melihat Proses Pemutusan Pemenang

Source: all;   Difficulty: easy to hard;   Value: medium
Sumber: semua;   Kesulitan: rendah sampai tinggi;   Nilai: sedang

Were people allowed to find out how the host/judges decided upon winners, or is the process secret?

>>>Apakah orang2 boleh mencaritahu tata cara pengada/juri memutuskan para pemenang, ataukah itu proses rahasia?
If the process and deliberations used to determine who won a contest are kept a secret, it is likely that something is wrong.  The hiding of these things may indicate a lack of professionalism, incompetence, errors, favoritism or fixed results (cheating).
Apabila proses dan alasan dibalik pemutusan pemenangnya dirahasiakan, kemungkinan besar ada yang tidak beres.  Menyembunyikan hal2 ini mungkin menunjukkan bahwa ada ketidakprofesionalismean, ketidakmampuan, kesalahan, kesayangan ataupun kecurangan.


#3.7: Overall Number of Competitions per Year / Jumlah Lomba per Tahun

Source: government, library, media, NGOs;   Difficulty: medium to hard;   Value: medium
Sumber: pemerintahan, perpustakaan, media, NGO;  Kesulitan: sedang sampai tinggi;   Nilai: sedang

How many competitions were held in each year, including the ones which that school has no awards for?

>>>Berapa banyak lomba diadakan setiap tahun, termasuk lomba2 dimana sekolah yang kamu menilai tidak mendapatkan satupun?


This is more difficult to find data for.  The school may not have a complete record of all contests held in the region, and it may require going to a few different places, such as the local department of education,  the teachers’ union, etc., to try and get complete data.  It may be that no one kept track of everything.   The ratio of competitions held to competitions entered, as well as the ratio of competitions held to the ones where awards were earned, are both useful.  In combination with other factors, the former indicates things like student readiness and confidence, and the latter shows ability.

>>>Menemukan informasi tentang ini akan lebih sulit.  Mungkin sekolahnya punya informasi yang lengkap tentang semua lomba di daerahmu, tapi lebih mungkin tidak, jadi kamu mungkin harus ke DepDikNas, Persatuan Guru, dll., untuk mendapatkan informasi yang lengkap.  Ada juga kemungkinan tidak ada instansi satupun yang punya informasi yang lengkap.  Rasio lomba yang diberadakan dibandingkan lomba dimana murid sekolah bersaing (LAMB), bahkan rasio lomba yang diberadakan dibandingkan lomba dimana murid sekolah menang (LAMM), dapat menunjukkan mutu sekolahnya.  Dengan faktor2 lain, rasio LAMB menunjukkan kepersiapan murid2 dan kePDannya, dan LAMM menunjukkan kemampuannya.


#3.8: Total Number of Participants per Contest / Jumlah Peserta per Lomba

Source: award giver, government, NGOs, media, library;   Difficulty: easy;  Value: low
Sumber: pemberi penghargaan, pemerintahan, NGO, media, perpustakaan;   Kesulitan: mudah;    Nilai: rendah

How many individuals and/or teams from other schools participated?

>>>Ada berapa peserta dan/atau tim dari sekolah2 lain?


A contest with individuals from no other schools holds less value than one in which just a few others schools were involved, which is less valuable than a contest in which many schools participated.  Sometimes, however, this may indicate that the contest wasn’t well-publicized, or that it didn’t have governmental support, resulting in less participation.

>>>Sebuah lomba internal saja kurang berharga dibandingkan lomba dengan ada peserta2 dari sedikit sekolah lain, dan itupun kurang berharga dibandingkan lomba dengan ada peserta2 dari banyak sekolah lain.  Namun  terkadang, ini dapat menunjukkan bahwa lombanya tidak pasarkan dengan bagus, atau lombanya tidak ada dukungan dari pemerintahan setempat, dengan akibat kekurangan peserta.

I hope that this information helps you in evaluating  schools.  If you think of anything else that will be of use to parents, please let me know.  I have drawn on my experience as an educator, judge and competition committee member to prepare this information.  Please note that I use words like “may”, “maybe” and similar words deliberately to indicate a degree of possibility.  In life, very little is 100% certain, and that includes what I have stated above.

>>>Saya berharap informasi ini berguna dalam hal mengevaluasikan sekolah2.  Apabila  kamu ada tambahan2 yang berguna buat para orang tua, tolong bagi informasinya dengan saya.  Saya telah memakai pengalamanku sebagai seorang pendidik, juri dan anggota panitia lomba untuk menyiapkan informasi ini.  Tolong perhatikan bahwa saya memakai kata2 seperti “mungkin” dan kata2 serupanya untuk memberi petunjuk tentang derajat kemungkinan.  Dalam hidup, ada sedikit yang 100% pasti, dan itu termasuk apa yang saya sudah tulis.

Evaluating Schools: False Leads and Secondary Factors


One of the most common mistakes that parents make when they choose a school for their child is to look at certain factors that are poor indicators of the quality of the school, such as the school’s popularity and fame, whose children go there, the opinions of friends and family, the opinions of students, national test results, whether rich parents send their children there, the possibility of improved status or prestige, the school’s facilities, an educational style that looks familiar, the extracurricular and/or co-curricular programs, and the school’s appearance.  While these factors may sometimes give an indication of the quality of the school, in general, their value ranges from almost non-existent to secondary considerations.   Please read my separate article about trophies and other awards.
A School’s Popularity and Fame
Popularity and fame are subjective perceptions that are easily manipulated through marketing strategies, the selective entry into contests that their students are sure to win, the display of trophies and other awards, making the school grounds look attractive, offering special programs and other tactics that are psychologically impressive but are generally nothing more than glitter in terms of evaluating quality.  Unless the school has significant attributes, such as a track record of years of students who have moved on to success in life; a reputation for students becoming very civic-minded; above average results even when using non-standard evaluation techniques through independent sources and even while accepting  students from a wide range of backgrounds and performance records; a curriculum that has been demonstrated through years of use at various schools  to get better-than-average results; a roster of teachers who have received accolades; etc., one should be wary of whether the popularity and/or fame of a school is just a passing trend or the result of clever marketing.
Whose Children Go There, Rich Parents Send Their Kids There, Status and Prestige
While it is certainly true that some schools are full of students from the upper class (such as Ivy League universities) and successful, most of the time deciding to enroll your child in a particular school because someone’s child is there is a mistake.  Certainly, if the person in question is someone who is a famous, highly regarded leader in the reformation of education who is respected even by his or her adversaries, that might be an exception to the rule.
Similarly, choosing a school because it might make you look better is self-serving and egotistical and, while it may work as a strategy for you, it may be a disaster for your child.  You may accidentally put your child in a bad school, a bad situation, or drastically alter their future.
If, however, you’re on a quest for improved status (reputation by association), then you are not concerned with your child’s future, nor are you making a wise choice.  Education is not about what is best for you as the parent, but what is best for your child.  Put your child’s needs first, and make an informed decision based on real facts.
If you send your child to a school that is famous (like Ivy League universities), please be aware that while it will provide an excellent education in many respects, there are pitfalls, especially if you are not wealthy.
We often like to ask the people around us what they think about a particular school, or which school they think is best.   Yet, most of these people have never researched the schools in the area, let alone the city, and many know very little about education or how to choose a good school.  Asking the average person for advice on which school to go to, while it may yield some information that you can use in your search, will rarely lead you to the best choice.  It’s like asking a grocer to perform surgery on you – the chances are very low that it’ll go well.
Students are, on average, only good for a very limited variety of information unless you ask them questions but, if you ask the right questions, they can be a goldmine of information!   The value of a student’s answers will generally be greater the older the person is.  Usually, if you ask a child if they like their school, they base their answer on how many friends they have and, thus, how happy they are there.  You’ll have to dig deeper with questions like:
“What do you think about your teachers?”
“Are they fair, honest and respectful?”
“Do they make learning interesting, enjoyable and challenging?”
“Do they help you when you have trouble?”
“Do they make students feel uncomfortable, embarrass them or bully them?”

“When they observe someone bullying, do they have effective methods to defuse the situation, perhaps even permanently?”
“How safe do you feel in your school?”
Here’s an interesting “climate” (which means the social and emotional relationship environment) survey you might want to make use of when talking to a student:


If you DO want to ask the average person, then you should go loaded with questions that will help you evaluate how much value their opinion has.  Of course, in order to be able to understand the value of the answers to some of these questions, you’d have to actually learn about education.  Here’s a very short list.
How many schools have you evaluated?
How many of them did you visit?
What kind of curriculum does each us?
What teaching methodologies are employed, and which is/are preferred?
What subjects are offered and are they all required, or can students guide their own future by choosing?
What guidance does the school offer to students so that they make wise decisions for their future?
What is the school’s strategy for testing and grading?
How does the school evaluate teachers?
Do teachers work as a members of a team and have routine sessions in which they sit  down and share their problems and offer solutions?


Climate surveys for different people (eg: students, teachers, administrators, staff, community members) are available online if you search for “school climate survey”, such as here: which offers surveys online for parents, staff and primary, junior and senior high students.
Test Results
First of all, it is obvious that if there are 20 schools that are reviewed and evaluate, and all 20 schools receive fairly poor scores, the best of the 20 is still poor.  With a consistent “benchmark”, tests hold little meaning outside the environment within which they are used.


Second, many countries have problems with cheating on tests, not just by the teachers and their students but also by administrators and even testing companies.  There are numerous reasons for this, including government funding that is determined based on test results; administrator’s fear of loss of funding, sanctions, loss of status, and embarrassment; teacher’s fear of reprisals by administrators or the impact the results will have on their  position and/or salary; teacher’s fear of embarrassment and loss of status; student’s fear of loss of opportunities in societies that still over-estimate the value of test results; parents fear of loss of status, embarrassment, missed opportunities; and many other possible reasons.  In some countries, tests are the key to university, being able to study overseas, scholarships, funding and many other things and, thus, the stakes are big.  Sometimes, entire schools will cheat so that it looks like no one has failed because of these reasons, or even because passing the national exams is a requisite for graduation.  Even politicians have been involved in such corruption.


Third, many tests are geared toward testing knowledge, not ability, and thus are not only bad indicators of school quality, but also the chances of success of any given student.  Testing knowledge is a poor way of getting results that have more meaning for parents, teachers, students, administrators and the government.


Fourth, if a test is poorly designed; it is much more difficult or easier than the actual curriculum, the quality of the teachers is poor; or there is some other disparity between the test and the actual learning experience, then the validity of the test’s results is highly suspect.


Fifth, the formatting of questions and answers can affect the student’s ability to answer, making it easier or more difficult to answer, thus skewing the results for an individual, a grade level, a school, a city or even an entire country.  Therefore, if all schools do not use exactly the same format and questions, then the results of the test have far less value than is needed.  A poor-quality school that uses the easiest types of questions (such as multiple-choice, cloze with a word box, and matching) will appear to be competitive when compared to a high-quality school that designs tests that minimize the use of easy question types.  Conversely, an underachieving school with honest leadership may choose to use hard question types which may shine a light on the problems there, but which may be looked at the wrong way.


Sixth, how tests are graded can skew the results.  For example, if a test is graded on the so-called “bell curve”, other schools that use a different curve,  that don’t use a curve at all, or that revise scores based on non-test criteria can manipulate their results.


Seventh, how the results are collated and what statistical evaluations are used (including biases) can change the perception of the results.  It is well known that the manipulation of statistical analysis results can produce results that give a false impression of the facts.


Eighth, for a variety of reasons, including learning disabilities, test stress and other mental and emotional issues, some students are unable to perform well on tests.  They may do very well in all other aspects of schooling, but when it comes to tests, their results are startlingly bad.


There are other reasons as well, but I think this makes it clear enough.  While test results may give some kind of indication of quality, if you have no way to evaluate their value, then it is unlikely that they will be of significant use for you.


Finally, does the school do formative post-test assessments to identify problems with the test as well as areas students need more help with?


Not all testing is bad.  Tests that are designed to evaluate comprehension and abilities rather than just information (especially trivia) can be very valuable in terms of assessing students.  On the other hand, if you see that a test is mostly focused on checking knowledge acquisition, then that test’s value is far weaker than a test or activity that checks the ability to apply knowledge correctly.


Not all forms of evaluation involve testing, such as observation and evaluation during classroom activities and projects, evaluation of homework, and evaluation of participation (what kinds, how often, depth of involvement, etc.).  A test that uses a lot of multiple choice questions (A,B,C,D) is easier to pass than a test that uses a variety of question types with a greater range of possibility (e.g.: fill in the blank with a box of many choices or no box at all, open-ended questions requiring a sentence be written, short essays).  “Near miss” answers can be used to determine comprehension in that such answers will appear to be correct, and may be, but are not the most correct choice for the test question.  This is actually a better way to provide answer choices than choices that are obviously incorrect, because it requires that the student be able to choose the answer based on deductive or inductive logic, and this is more difficult if all the answers are valid than if some answers can be immediately eliminated as wrong.


If a post-test evaluation is done to find problems with the test so that future tests will be better, this is an important step to ensure quality results for students, parents AND teachers, as well as being a tool to help teachers better assist their students.


While testing has a place in education, and although they may indicate success in education itself, high scores are not usually a strong indicator of success in life.  You should look at a test score but you should also look at the test critically to see what it is actually designed to evaluate.  Even if you cannot determine how high the quality of the test is, if you see that it is focused on testing abilities instead of just information, that it offers a variety of question types, of which there are few that are closed-ended (multiple-choice A,B,C,D; True/False; Yes/No; Right/Wrong; Fill-in-the-blank with a limited number of choices), and many that are open-ended (questions for which the ability to answer is not limited, such as “Why…?” and “How…?”), then you can have a basic understanding of the test’s worth.


Please note that the younger your child, the more closed-ended, information-check questions there will be.  However, even in lower primary, you should see some open-ended questions about comprehension and ability, especially in a subject like Mathematics.


I realize that you may now feel that your ability to know about your child’s progress is limited.  There are, however, questions you can ask your child’s teachers to help you get a better understanding of your child.  Ask questions about strengths and weaknesses, behavior, the ability to socialize,  maturely handle emotions, his/her level of creativity, problem-solving, analysis, how well your child performs during daily classroom activities, which subjects your child seems to do particularly well at and which still need to be improved, etc.  Through questioning, you will learn far more about your child than a report card can show.
Facilities and Appearance
Actually, facilities are probably one of the best of the worst things to look at, but don’t allow them to be the primary consideration because other factors (such as seen in the questions in the opinions section) are far more important.


From the bathrooms and the availability of soap, sprayers and toilet paper within them (and, if people wipe with their hands, soap should be in each stall, not just at the sink), lots of garbage cans, student lockers, and security measures to prevent theft, abduction, attacks, molestation, etc. to premium facilities like a swimming pool, fine arts room, outdoor activity area, indoor gym, performing arts room, choir/band room, stadium/sports field, track, fitness center, nurse’s office, guidance counselor, psychologist, special education experts, archery range, computer/AV lab, stage and auditorium, and science lab, these things should all be taken into consideration as part of the overall package, especially if they are needed for the path your child wants to follow later in life.


Nevertheless, lack of these things should only be a secondary factor, although those related to hygiene (be sure to investigate the bathrooms, cafeteria and kitchen!) are very important.


Some schools spend a great deal of attention on appearance.  There are two types of appearance – those that please the eyes of parents, and those that are purpose-driven to assist in the learning process.  Certainly, schools should be colorfully painted instead of looking like re-purposed prisons, and have interesting decorations to look at, because art is an important part of education.  However, if you are walking down the halls and looking into classrooms, you should see purpose-driven decoration or, more accurately, displays that support current and recent lessons by displaying material about the lessons, and/or those created by the students.  Cheerful and inspiring displays of students’ work should be evident around the school, even in the lobby (but not only there or it is just for the benefit of parents).  Be careful to try to discern whether it is a marketing strategy or for the benefit of the students.  Note dates on materials – displays should be changed fairly often so as to always be relevant and give students motivation to do well so as to have their work displayed.  It is not the most beautiful work that should always be displayed because not everyone is able to produce beautiful work.
A Familiar Educational Style
Often parents expect that the style of teaching that is used at a school should be similar to the schooling they received.  They believe that what worked for them is the best choice because they were able to do well with it.  Most likely, unless you went to a school that employed a progressive or transformational methodology, this is not true.  Aside from the fact that each person is different, even from their parents, and thus has different needs, the traditional system of public education was not designed to help students to excel – it was helped to create workers.  It is, for some people, highly appropriate but, anyone who looks at a statistical analysis of the results over the last 200 years can clearly see that less than 50% really benefit from this system.  The rest get average, or worse, results.  That means that the educational system given to the public by Europe is a failure.


Do not look for a school that uses the traditional, teacher-focused, student-as-recorder, one-directional, boring style of education.  Look, instead, for a school where the students are frequently engaged in learning through doing: experiments, activities, research, discovery, games, debriefing and more; it is the practical application of knowledge that most benefits the largest number of students, not the passing on of theory that is rarely practiced.  Look for a place where students  are excited to get to class instead of just play and reticent to go home, where parents are involved with the learning experience because it is so enjoyable, and where there is such a positive environment that just stepping  into the school is like entering a better world.  This may sound utopian, but this is what you should seek out if you truly care for your child and want the best.
Extracurricular/Co-curricular Programs
Extra- and co-curricular programs are a nice bonus.  They offer additional options, but they are not the same, and how valuable they are is partially dependent on what is offered.


Extra-curricular programs offer a free/inexpensive way for students to explore interests that may otherwise be inaccessible to them.  Some may just be a way for them to relax, while others may give them a chance to evaluate professions they may want to pursue, as well as provide a chance to acquire the necessary skills to do well in it.  While you should be sure to give your child a great deal of control over this, and you should encourage the child to try, you should also make sure that the child doesn’t waste these opportunities.


Co-curriculars are often not free, and I am less inclined to value them because they are also required.  Unlike extra-curriculars, your child will be forced to enroll in a certain number of co-curriculars, and you will have to produce the money to pay for it (usually).  If the options are of a particular  type only (such as focusing only on the traditional “core” areas of language, science and math), or they are of a specific bent (such as religious or play-time), then this is something to ask questions about – a co-curricular program should  offer a wide variety of options since the students have to participate instead of trying  to force them to follow  a particular path that they may not even be suited for.


Carefully review the program offered at the schools you’re considering and see if they align with your child’s dreams and offer a wide variety of choices – even though some of those choices may seem unimportant to you (such as performing and fine arts, sports, debate, forensics, chess club, A/V club, etc.).  Again, these are there for your child, not you.  If they don’t have anything of great interest to your child, and/or there is a lack of variety, but it is an extra-curricular program, then it’s not a big problem.  If, however, it’s a co-curricular program, then you may want to look at other schools.

Evaluating Schools: Recreation Areas >>> Mengevaluasikan Sekolah – Tempat Bermain/Lapangan Sekolah


    Every school from nursery to university needs an area for students  to play and unwind.  Recreation (eg:  games, activities, exercise, sports) plays an important role in developing social, physical and emotional skills, improving hand-eye coordination (gross and fine motor skills) and it gives the brain time to absorb and deal with new information learned.  Additionally, different physical activities actually stimulate specific parts of the brain and, thus, helps keep those areas active and healthy.  Thus, it is important to evaluate the play area of a prospective school.  There are 5 things you should look at: size, usage, safety, rules, and supervision.

>>>Setiap sekolah dari PAUD sampai universitas memerlukan daerah bermain dan menyantai buat para muridnya. Rekreasi (contoh: permainan, aktivitas, pelatihan fisik dan olah raga) merupakan kegiatan penting untuk perkembangan kemampuan sosial, fisik dan renjana, meningkatkan koordinasi diantara tangan dan mata (motorik kasar dan halus) dan itu juga memberikan waktu kepada otak untuk menyerap dan memproses informasi yang baru dipelajari.  Ditambah denga, aktifitas fisik macam2 dapat menstimulasikan beberapa daerah otak dan itu berarti daerah2 tersebut tetap aktif dan sehat.  Demikian, pentinglah mengevaluasikan taman bermain setiap calon sekolah.   Ada 5 hal yang harus kamu melihat:  luasnya, pemakaiannya, peraturan dan pengawasan.


    For the very young, a sleeping area or nap time is critical because sleeping after learning has been shown  to help toddlers to process what they learned about, and I suspect that it also plays a role for primary students and, certainly, when your brain and body feel tired from learning a lot of new things, you need sleep, prayer or meditation to recharge yourself.

>>>Untuk anak2 yang balita, tempat tidur atau waktu tidur sangatlah penting karena tidur habis belajar telah dibuktikan membantu balita memproses apa yang baru dipelajari, dan saya merasa bahwa itu juga berguna untuk murid di SD dan, jelas, ketika otak dan badanmu lelah karena belajar banyak hal2 baru, kamu perlu tidur, berdoa atau semadi agar kamu jadi segar lagi.


    One of the most important considerations is the size of the recreation area.  While a small area that has been well-designed to make maximum use of space can be good, especially a multi-leveled play gym for pre-primary or primary, children need space for many of the games they play, whether it is tag, hide and seek or dodgeball, and for sports like soccer, baseball dan basketball.

>>>Salah satu pertimbangan yang sangat penting adalah luasnya tempat bermain.  Walaupun tempat bermain yang kecil tapi direncanakan untuk memakai tempatnya secara maksimal, terutama kalau ada ruang bermain yang bertingkat untuk pra-SD atau SD, anak2 membutuhkan tempat yang luas untuk kebanyakan permainan, baik kejar2an, petak umpet ataupun elak bola, dan untuk olah raga seperti sepak bola, bisbol dan basket.


    A multi-leveled gym with lots of tunnels, climbing apparatus, slides and more can provide an excellent place for children to exert their bodies and imaginations, and the close quarters provides a natural breeding ground for the development of relationships – with some supervision.  Let’s be honest – as an adult, haven’t you ever felt like you wished they made them for us adults, too?

>>>Tempat bermain yang bertingkat dengan banyak  terowongan, alat2 memanjat, rosotan2 dan lain2 merupakan tempat yang istimewa untuk anak2 agar mereka dapat melatihkan motorik dan imaginasi, dan kesempitannya dapat mendorong perkembangan  sosial dan hubungan antar murid – dengan ada pengawasan.  Ayo kita jujur – sebagai seorang dewasa, bukankah kamu pernah ingin ada tempat seperti itu untuk kita juga?


    Yet, such a place is costly to buy or make as well as install, and requires daily (or more often) clean-ups as small children are liable to have “accidents” often.  They have to be well-made in order to minimize risk factors such as bumped noggins, cuts and scrapes – or worse!  This means that most schools just cannot afford them.

>>>Namun, tempat seperti itu biasanya mahal kalau ingin beli atau bikin apalagi menginstalasikannya, dan wajib dibersihkan setiap hari (atau lebih sering) oleh karena anak2  yang kecil biasanya buang air sembarang.  Tempatnya harus dibikin dengan benar untuk meminimalisir resiko2 seperti kejedut, goresan dan lecet – atau yang lebih buruk lagi!  Ini berarti banyak sekolah tidak mampu membelinya.


A cheaper, yet effective choice, would be to make a play house.  It would need to have multiple rooms, slides, ladders, bridges and other simple devices that don’t cost a lot to make but are durable, but the rooms would not need to be large.  It could have an interesting design and bright colors to stimulate the interest and imagination of the students, with paintings of people, animals and other things on it, too.

>>>Salah satu pilihan yang lebih murah tapi cocok adalah rumah bermain.  Tentu saja, harus ada beberapa ruang, rosotan2, tangga, jembatan dan alat2 lain yang cukup sederhana, kuat dan tidak mahal, dan ruang2nya tidak harus besar.  Bisakah desainnya menarik dan dicat warna-warni yang terang untuk memico ketertarikan dan imaginasi para murid2, dengan gambar2an orang2, binatang2 dan yang lain juga.


    Unfortunately, either choice presents the problem of size:  the number of students who can effectively play is limited.

>>>Sayangnya, kedua pilihan bermasalah luasnya: jumlah murid yang dapat bermain bersama terbatas.


    But, honestly, a large play area is really what is best, unless the school intends to have a very limited number of students.  If the school you’re looking at has a large rec area, then that is good.  Next,  you should look at how they make use of that area.   The only thing you have to do is make sure that the entire playground is viewable from the position of the teacher supervisors.

>>>Namun, sejujurnya, tempat bermain yang besar adalah pilihan terbaik, kecuali sekolahnya sengaja tidak ingin ada banyak murid.  Bila sekolah yang kamu sedang selidiki punya tempat bermain yang besar, itu bagus.  Kemudian, kamu harus lihat pemakaiannya.  Hanya saja desainnya harus membuat semau daerah terlihat dari posisi guru yang mengawasinya.


    You should see at least one large open area for team games and sports, and other areas with playground equipment.   An area should be available for those students who want to sit and talk, be it tables and chairs or a clean spot under some trees.  There should be at least some (semi-)permanent sports equipment for popular sports, too, such as a goal or basket.  Easy access to bathrooms is a must, but kids shouldn’t be able to make use of the water to play.  Ideally, also, the nurse’s station should be nearby in case of accidents.

>>>Setidaknya ada satu tempat terbuka yang luas untuk permainan dan olah raga, dan tempat2 lain dengan ada alat2 bermain.  Sebuah area harus bersedia untuk para murid yang ingin nongkrong, meja2 dan kursi2 atau tempat bersih dibawah pohon2.  Sebaiknya ada alat2 olah raga yang bersifat (semi)permanen untuk olah raga yang populer juga, seperti sebuah gol atau basket.  Kamar mandi harus dekat, tapi air yang ada tidak dapat dipakai untuk bermain.  Secara ideal, juga, ada kamar perawat yang dekat aba bila ada kecelakaan.


    In the event of rain, or dangerous weather conditions (e.g.:  extreme cold, lightning storms, hail, icy rain, etc.),  there should be an alternative available for students, such as a library, indoor rec area with individual and 2-to-4-person games and toys, an auditorium, or a physical education gym, or the school staff should be prepared to engage in fun, non-learning-oriented activities.  Students should be given access to the most popular ones on a rotating schedule to make sure that certain students don’t monopolize them.

>>>Ketika terjadi hujan, atau cuaca yang berbahaya (contoh: suhu dingin yang membahayakan, badai petir, hujan es, hujan beres, dll), harus ada kegiatan2 lain yang dapat dimanfaatkan oleh para siswa-siswi, seperti perpustakaan, tempat bermain dalam dengan permainan dan mainan untuk 1 atau beberapa murid, aula, atau ruang olah raga, atau staf sekolah harus mengadakan kegiatan2 yang menyenangkan dan tidak terkait belajar secara langsung.   Murid2 harus diberi akses ke tempat dan kegiatan yang paling disukai secara gonta-ganti supayanya dapat dipakai secara adil oleh semua.


    One important area that may be overlooked in city schools is a natural area for children to explore and see nature. Living in the concrete jungle tends to isolate us from the environment that we depend on for life, and such a disconnect can cause us not to appreciate its value or how important it is to take care of it properly. Having an area where students can frolic in the dirt, sand, clay and grass, touch, view and smell the flowers, climb trees and see wild creatures adds an entirely new dimension for some of them, and can bring to life learning about the natural sciences, as well as be used for other purposes, like language acquisition, physical education, and gardening.

>>>Salah satu daerah yang penting yang mungkin terlupakan di sekolah2 di kota adalah tempat alami untuk dijelajahi dan melihat lingkungan hidup. Hidup di kota yang penuh dengan konkrit, semen dan besi cenderung memisahkan kita dari lingkungan hidup yang kita tergantung untuk bertahan hidup, dan pemisahan tersebut dapat menyebabkan kita tidak menghargai nilainya atau betapa pentingnya dikelola dengan benar. Mempunyai tempat dimana para murid dapat bermain di tanah, pasir, tanah liat dan rumput, menyentuh, melihat dan mencium bunga2, memanjat pohon dan melihat binatang liar menambahkan dimensi yang begitu baru untuk beberapa muridnya, dan dapat membuat pembelajaran tentang IPA jadi lebih nyata, dan just dapat dipakai untuk tujuan lain, seperti bahasa, PenJasORKes, dan berkebun.


    Older and younger students should be let out to play in separate areas.  This can either be done through having physically separate areas or by letting them out at different times of day.  At what age these divisions should occur depends largely on the dominant culture of the students and the behavior of students, which should be evident  through observation, but the culture and behavior can be modified by the creation of a school culture that fosters constructive interaction between students of different ages, increases tolerance and emotional understanding, and generally produces a more genuinely loving and harmonious environment.  Going strictly by the somewhat arbitrary designations  of major stages in schooling: pre-primary, primary, and secondary (junior/middle and senior) should be separated.  From a formative psychological viewpoint, however, the line is blurred and one might argue that the lines  of division be based on major psychological stages of development instead, or that toddlers be separated from kindergarten to 3rd grade students, who are separated from upper elementary, and so on.

>>>Murid2 yang lebih tua seharusnya dipisah dari yang lebih muda.  Ini dapat dilakukan dengan ada tempat terpisah, atau dengan membiarkan mereka bermain pada waktu yang beda.  Pada umur berapa perpisahan ini harus terjadi sangat tergantung pada budaya dominan para murid dan juga perilakunya, yang akan jelas kalau diobservasikan, namun budaya dan sikap ini dapat dimodifikasi dengan membangun sebuah budaya sekolah yang mendukung interaksi yang membangun diantara murid dengan macam2 umur, meningkatkan toleransi dan pemahaman perasaan, dan secara umum menciptakan sebuah lingkungan yang penuh dengan kasih sayang dan keharmonisan yang tulus.  Secara menurut batasan2 tahap2 sekolah yang tradisional namun kurang tepat: pra-SD, SD, SMP dan SMA harus dipisahkan.  Dari sudut sikologi formatif, namun, garisnya tidak sejelas itu dan dapat diperdebatkan bahwa batasannya lebih tepat kalau didasarkan tahap2 sikologi perkembangan, atau balita harus dipisahkan dari TK sampai dengan kelas 3, yang dipisahkan dari SD atas, dan seterusnya.


    An often-overlooked matter of great importance is safety.  It should be evident that the school has taken into consideration the safety needs of the students.  Pre-primary students, especially, need special safety equipment installed for multi-level jungle gyms and some playground equipment,  and if they will be playing on a hard surface supervision by adults should be more than adequate. Multi-level playing gyms should have foam rubber, especially on any sharp edges, and anywhere that a child could fall should either have a safety net or something soft to land on that takes up far more area than you’d think necessary.   Safety nets should be designed so that entanglement that could lead to injury or death is impossible, and anything that would otherwise be considered a wall because of the lack of a safe way to climb down and no retaining wall should be netted, as well.  There have been enough reports in the news of small children falling to their deaths in shopping malls and other buildings because of the lack of safe design that took into consideration the curiosity of children, and the same holds true in most play areas that are truly multi-level.  As students get older, there should be fewer safety issues, but some evidence of safety measures should be evident as recent studies have shown that a concussion often has after-effects that span years or even decades!   Safety equipment for games with hard objects moving at high speeds, such as helmets and gloves for baseball, are a must, and padding for rough sports like American football, boxing and other contact sports should be used.

>>>Salah satu hal yang sering tidak diperhatikan adalah pengamanan.  Seharusnya jelas bagi orang tua bahwa sekolahnya sudah mempertimbangkan dalam desain tempat2 bermain apa yang akan membuatnya amat bagi para murid.   Murid pra-SD, lebih dari yang lain, membutuhkan alat2 pengamanan untuk tempat bermain yang bertingkat dan beberapa macam wahana tempat bermain, dan apabila mereka akan bermain diatas lantai yang keras harus ada pengawasan yang lebih dari cukup.  Tempat bermain bertingkat harus pakai busa, terutama di mana ada ujung2 yang tajam, dan dimanapun anak2 dapat jatuh harus ada jaring pengaman atau sesuatu yang tebal dan lembut yang lebih besar daripada yang diperkirakan.  Jaring pengaman harus didesain agar anak2 tidak menjadi terkusut dengan akibat terluka atau meninggal dunia, dan juga dikasih dimana seharusnya ada dinding, terutama kalau tidak ada cara turun yang aman.  Sudah ada cukup banyak kejadian dimana anak kecil jatuh dan meninggal di mal atau gedung lain karena desainnya tidak aman karena anak2 kecil cendurung  sangat penasaran, dan masalah ini juga nyata di tempat bermain bertingkat.  Seiring dengan waktu, tingkat resiko akan turun, tetapi masih harus ada tindakan pengamanan karena sudah ada cukup banyak bukti bawa gejar otak mengganggu otaknya selama berbulan2 ataupun bertahun2! Alat2 pengamanan untuk permainan dengan barang keras yang gerak sangat cepat, seperti helm dan sarung tangan untuk bisbol, wajib, dan pakaian pengamanan untuk olah raga yang bersifat keras seperti football Amerika, tinju dan olah raga yang bersifat keras wajib dipakai.


    If there is a pool, toddlers should be supplied with floatation devices, all edges should be rounded, preferably with foam rubber on the most dangerous ones, and the tiles should be non-slip.  Even for primary students, a pool that doesn’t meet safety standards can be a risk, and the presence of sharp edges is always a bad sign.  Slippery tiles are often used in pools for their  walls, but slippery tiles along the sides of the pool or the bottom are risky because of the increased chance of a student being unable to gain his/her footing, especially a panicking one.  Although grit/sand embedded in the floor’s paint may not feel pleasant to the feet, it is better than drowning, and less expensive than non-slip tiles.  If you see a pool surrounded by slick tiles, and the floor uses slick tiles, that is a dangerous sign, and/or if the edges of steps and the pool itself are not rounded or padded, too, that is a very bad sign; sharp trauma injuries are much more likely to do serious damage than blunt trauma injuries.

>>>Apabila ada kolam renang,  balita wajib dikenakan pelampung, semua tepi/pinggir bulat, lebih baik lagi kalau dikasih busa pada yang paling berbahaya, dan keramiknya wajib anti-selip.  Bahkan untuk murid  SD, kolamnya yang tidak memenuhi standart pengamanan dapat beresiko, dan keberadaan tepi yang tajam selalu tanda buruk.   Keramik yang licin untuk dindingnya, tetapi kalau dipakai untuk lantainya sangat beresiko karena tingkat resiko anak tidak dapat berdiri dengan gampang, terutama ketika ketakutan.   Walaupun pasi di dalam cat lantainya mungkin tidak terasa enak untuk kaki, itu lebih baik daripada tenggelam, dan lebih murah daripada keramik anti-selip.  Jika kamu melihat kolam yang dikelilingi oleh keramik yang licin, dan lantai kolamnya juga memakainya, itu tanda bahayanya; dan/atau apabila pinggir tangga dan tepi kolamnya tidak dibuat bulat atau dikasih busa, juga, itu sangat buruk; tingkat keseriusan luka dari trauma tajam lebih dari trauma tumpul.


    Although not required, a dark-colored pool will increase the water temperature and make swimmers feel more comfortable, which may reduce accidents.  But the sides and walking areas around the pool should be lightly colored so that children don’t burn their  feet and, thus, feel the need to run, which could lead to slipping and injuries.  Poolside materials should  be a bit rough but not sharp or painful to walk on, and/or non-slip, too.

>>>Meskipun tidak wajib, kolam yang berwarna  gelap akan membuat suhu airnya lebih hangat dan itu berarti perenang akan terasa lebih nyaman, dengan akibat mungkin mengurangi resiko kecelakaan.  Namun, tepi dan daerah jalan2 disekitar kolamnya seharusnya berwarna muda agar kaki2 anak2 tidak terbakar dan mereka tidak lari, karena itu dapat menimbulkan anak yang selip dan terluka.  Bahan tepi kolam seharusnya sedikit kasar tapi tidak tajam atau menyakitkan kalau diinjak, dan/atau anti-selip juga.


    If how to ride a bicycle  is taught, the school should insist that parents provide their  kids with appropriate gear – helmets, and elbow and knee pads.  This will both reduce the child’s likelihood of injury and their  fear, which will speed up learning.  It is probably not feasible for the school to provide such equipment without generous financial support.

>>>Jika ada pelatihan naik sepeda, sekolahnya harus mewajibkan para ortu menyediakan alat2 pengamanan yang cocok – helm dan alat pengaman sendi.  Ini akan mengurangi resiko anakmu terluka dan juga rasa takutnya akan hilang, dan itu akan mempermudahkan proses belajar naik sepeda.  Kemungkinan besar sekolahnya tidak mampu menyediakan alat seperti ini tanpa ada donor uang.


    The surface of the play area, except for in areas designed for special activities like skate-boarding, should be flat and well-maintained, with no holes or protruding objects so as to minimize the danger of tripping and falling.  The best choice for play areas is to use materials like rubber, sand or bark chips to deaden falls and minimize serious injuries.   Garden areas, which add a pleasant aspect appearance, should not contain dangerous plants (such as those with poison), and they should not be bordered with anything that a student could be critically hurt by if s/he fell on it, such as stakes, upright bricks, or other sharp or pointy objects.

>>>Permukaan tempat bermain, selain tempat yang dirancang untuk aktifitas khusus seperti papan seluncur, harus rata dan dirawat dengan baik, tanpa ada lubang atau barang yang menonjol agar resiko terpeleset dan jatuh minim.  Pilihannya terbaik untuk dipakai di tempat bermain adalah bahan yang mengurangi dampak anak kejatuhan, seperti karet, pasir atau potongan2 kulit pohon. Kebun yang memperindahkan tempatnya tidak boleh ada tanaman yang berbahaya  (seperti yang beracun), dan tidak boleh ada pinggiran yang dibuat dari bahan yang dapat melukai parah seorang murid ketika jatuh, seperti pancang, batu merah yang berdiri atau obyek lain yang tajam.


One great resource that schools should be making use of is their physical education and health teachers – these people generally have a great deal of understanding about safety and rules and can thus play an important role on the school’s committee for said affairs.  They can even be given responsibility for oversight of construction and maintenance of school facilities to ensure quality and safety.

>>>Salah satu sumber daya manusia yang sebaiknya dipergunakan oleh sekolahnya adalah guru JasOrKes – orang2 ini biasanya mempunyai banyak pemahaman tentang pengamanan dan peraturan dan itu berarti mereka dapat berperan penting  dalam panitia tentang hal2 tersebut.  Mereka bahkan dapat diberikan tanggung jawab atas pengawasan pembangunan dan perbaikan fasilitas sekolah untuk memastikan mutu dan pengamanannya.


We shouldn’t forget legal concerns that make the acquisition of insurance a necessity.  Unfortunately, sometimes compliance with insurance regulations themselves causes schools to have to remove damaged equipment due to lack of funding, resulting in fewer facilities for students, but this is preferable to serious injury!

>>>Kami tidak boleh lupa hal terkait dengan hukum yang mewajibkan asuransi.  Sayangnya, terkadang kewajiban dari perusahaan asuransi memaksa sekolah2 mencabut alat2 yang rusak karena tidak ada dana untuk memperbaikinya, dengan akibat ada lebih sedikit fasilitas untuk para murid, namun ini lebih bagus daripada luka2 serius!


Of great importance is the presence of facilities for the care of injured and sick people.  You should find out if the teachers are trained in first aid, where first aid supplies are stored and how close they are to areas where accidents are most likely to happen (e.g.: shop classroom, playground, gymasium), whether there is an on-site clinic and if there is a full-time nurse stationed there, and what the SOP are to deal with sick and injured individuals.  Do they have a back-up plan in case of trouble?  How will they handle true emergencies that cannot be dealt with at school?  Do they have a doctor on call, is there a nearby doctor’s office, clinic or hospital?  At the very least, first-aid boxes should be stationed strategically around the school near high-risk areas, and teachers and staff should have been trained in how to use them.  Finally, who is the point of contact in the case of an emergency, especially if the health specialist is away?

>>>Sangatlah penting adalah keberadaan perlengkapan untuk perawatan orang yang terluka dan sakit.  Kamu sebaiknya cari tahu apakah para guru telah terlatih dalam pemakaian P3K, dimana P3K disimpan dan berapa dekat dengan tempat2 yang tingkat resiko kecelakaan tinggi (contoh: ruang kerajinan, tempat bermain, ruang olah raga), apakah ada klinik di kampus dan apakah ada perawat terlatih yang salalu siap membantu, dan prosedur standart apa yang ada untuk keperawatan yang sakit dan terluka.  Apakah ada rencana cadangan kalau ada situasi gawat?  Apa rencananya kalau memang ada situasi darurat yang tidak dapat ditangani di sekolahnya?  Apakah ada dokter yang dapat dipanggil, atau akankah mereka ke klinik, kantor dokter atau rumah sakit?  Setidaknya, ada kotak P3K harus ditempatkan secara strategis di rawan kecelakaan, dan para staf dan guru harus terlatih. Terakhir, siapa yang harus dihubungkan dalam keadaan darurat, terutama kalau ahli medisnya sedang tidak ada?


Rules and supervision of the students are an important part of a recreation area.  This is especially true of small children who haven’t been socialized or taught by their families, and older students in high-risk areas.  An initial period of adjustment is to be expected, and guidance from a caring person will help to make the transition easier – both in the rules and in the possible uses of unfamiliar equipment.

>>>Peraturan dan pengawasan murid2 adalah bagian penting dari tempat bermain.  Ini sangat nyata dengan anak2 kecil yang belum diajarkan peraturan2nya oleh keluarga, apalagi murid yang lebih gede dari daerah kumuh.  Sebuah waktu awal untuk penyesuaian harus terantisipasikan, dan bimbingan dari seseorang yang kasih sayang akan membantu membuat transisinya lebih gampang – baik peraturan maupun pemakaian alat2 yang belum diketahui.


Small children need rules to help them learn how to interact appropriately, but they also need gentle guidance from caring adults.  There are many children who come from environments in which they have learned appropriate behavior, but there are also many who come from environments where there are problems, or where they are mollycoddled and/or abusive behavior is either tolerated or found amusing.  These children, especially,  will need the loving help of adults so that they will be accepted by other children and be able to integrate.  This may even be true of older students, if they are coming from schools with inferior  integration programs and a lack of the development of character, social and emotional skills.  If you believe your child may come from a background that is less supportive, too supportive, or even abusive, or if you have noticed that your child has trouble socializing or often gets into trouble for one reason or another, you should take care to ascertain that the school has a great integration and support program.

>>>Anak2 kecil membutuhkan peraturan untuk membantu mereka belajar cara interaksi yang cocok, tapi mereka juga butuh bimbingan yang baik dari dewasa yang peduli.  Ada banyak anak2 yang berasal dari lingkungan yang membimbing mereka dengan benar, tapi juga ada banyak  yang dari lingkungan yang bermasalah, atau dimana mereka dimanjakan dan/atau dimana perlakuan kejam olehnya diterima atau dianggap lucu.  Anak2 seperti ini, lebih dari yang lain,  akan membutuhkan bantuan yang penuh kasih sayang dari dewasa agar mereka dapat disukai dan diterima oleh anak2 lain.  Ini juga benar untuk murid2 yang lebih dewasa, bila mereka dari sekolah dengan program integrasi yang tidak bagus dan ketidakadaan pengembangan watak dan kemampuan sosial dan perasaan.  Jika kamu percaya bahwa anakmu berasal dari lingkungan yang kurang mendukung, memanjakan atau keras, ataupun kalau kamu lihat bahwa anakmu susah bersosialisasi atau sering dalam masalah dengan alasan apa2, kamu dianjurkan untuk memastikan sekolah yang kamu selidiki punya program hebat integrasi dan bimbingan.


There are reports of schools dropping all playground rules with great success.  However, this doesn’t take into consideration the facts that (1) the rules have been so fully impressed on the older students that (2) they have become part of their social interactions and are thus (3) passed on daily to the younger and even new students.  I suspect that there will be times when problems will occur in schools without play area rules, but appropriately applied reinforcement should help.  Especially if the school doesn’t have rules, you should be sure to go there during school hours to observe the behavior of the students while playing.  If you see a shortage of teachers, teachers who are too busy socializing to notice what’s going on, or frequent problems, those are bad signs.

>>>Ada laporan2 tentang sekolah yang telah menghapus semua peraturan dengan sukses yang tidak dapat dibayangkan.  Namun, ini tidak mempertimbangkan fakta bahwa (1) peraturan2nya sudah didorong sampai jadi kebiasaan murid yang lebih tua sampai (2) peraturannya menjadi dari interaksi sosial mereka  dan demikian (3) diwariskan kepada murid2 yang muda dan baru.  Saya menyangka bahwa akan ada titik bermasalah di sekolah tanpa peraturan, namun pengawasan dan pembimbingan yang cocok dapat menyelesaikannya.  Terutam di sekolah tanpa peraturan, kamu harus ke sana pada jam sekolah untuk mengawasi perilaku murid2nya saat bermain.  Jika ada kekurangan guru2, gurunya terlalu sibuk bersosialisasi sampai tidak memperhatikan apa yang terjadi di tempat main, atau sering ada masalah, itu semua tanda buruk.


In either situation – with or without explicit rules – there should be supervision by adults in sufficient numbers to minimize problems, like bullying  and fighting, not to mention outside interference by criminals.  It is a sad fact that abduction of children for the worldwide sex and slave markets is on the rise, as is the abuse of children by infantophiles, pedophiles and other deviants, so school staff must be vigilant and, preferably, there should be a gated fence around the property.

>>>Dalam kedua keadaan – dengan atau tanpa peraturan – harus ada pengawasan oleh dewasa2 dalam jumlah yang cukup agar masalah dapat diminimalisirkan, seperti penggertakan oleh bully dan perkelahian, apalagi gangguan dari luar oleh penjahat.  Sayang sekali, penculikan anak2 untuk pasar gelap budak seks dan budak sedang meningkat, juga dengan penyiksaan, dan pencabulan remaja, anak bahkan balita oleh orang2 yang menyimpang, jadi staf sekolah harus was2 dan, lebih baik lagi, harus ada pagar dengan pintu gerbang yang mengelilingi tempat bermain dan sekolahnya.


Rules should be written so that the students can easily understand them or using pictures, and should be constructively oriented (i.e.: “Play nicely”, “Ask for what you want to use”, and “Use your words”).  Periodic sessions in which the rules are talked about and demonstrated through role-playing are a good idea.  A colorful, permanent display of the rules can serve as a reminder for students.

>>>Peraturan harus ditulis dengan cara yang gampang dipahami murid atau dengan ada gambar2, dan seharusnya bersifat baik (maksudnya: “Bermain dengan baik,” Minta izin kalau ingin memakai sesuatu,” dan “Pakailah kata2”).  Sesi yang terkadang diadakan untuk membicarakan dan mempertunjukkan peraturan melalui berperan adalah gagasan yang bagus.   Pameran peraturan yang permanen dan berwarna menarik dapat mengingatkan para murid2nya.


So, when you are looking at a school’s recreation area, you should see a recreation area that is large, safe, well-planned and has some equipment; rules should be clear and supervision performed by adequate numbers of adults.  Also, don’t forget to observe cleanliness!

>>>Jadi, ketika kamu melihat tempat bermain sekolah, seharusnya terlihat besar, aman, direncanakan dengan baik dan ada beberapa alat2 olah raga; peraturan harus jelas dan pengawasan dilakukan oleh dewasa dalam jumlah yang cukup.  Juga, jangan lupa  memperhatikan kebersihan!