A right choice?
For nine years, I have gone to a school based on the National Curriculum (KTSP/Kurikulum 2013) and have gone through the National Examination (UN) twice. But when it is time to choose where I would attend high school, I made a daring choice. One that I would have to face for the next three years and one that would alter my future completely, I have chosen a school based on the Cambridge A Levels Program.
How it all started.
Before you guys judge, this was not an impulsive choice. I have considered this option for at least a year and have discussed it thoroughly with my parents. We concluded that the easiest way to send me abroad is to choose an international school.
After applying to three schools, I chose the school I think is the best and the most economically available. The school was Penabur Secondary Tanjung Duren, more commonly known as SMAK 8. At first, the school was never an option, merely a tool to satisfy my parents’ desire. But after meeting with some teachers and getting a general vibe of the school – also the fact that one of their graduates managed to get into Stanford, I fell in love with it.
Seven months later.
Once the Student Orientation Program was finished, it was finally time for class. I had mixed feelings about it because at one side I was stressed just thinking about the number of tests and homework, but I was also excited to study on a world-class curriculum. I was placed in the science stream, which means I am currently taking:
- Pure Maths 1
- Statistics 1
- German (choice)
- Global Perspective (choice)
Having gone through the school for a month, I have gone through numerous lectures, done dozens of worksheets, and taken a couple of tests. Here are my thoughts on how the Cambridge A Levels Program differ from the Indonesian National Curriculum:
keep in mind that this is my personal experience and in no way is it a definitive comparison
The textbooks that most A level schools use are the books endorsed by Cambridge. These books outline all the topics covered in the AS and A2 examinations thoroughly and in a way that it is easy for students to understand. They also use quality paper and are usually colored.
Meanwhile, textbooks in Indonesia are made by private companies. While one is more notable than others, none of them is sponsored by the government. As a result, the books covered topics usually differ slightly from one another. However, Indonesian books are usually a lot cheaper, which explains why it is made with low-quality paper.
Even though textbooks contain all the information needed, it doesn’t mean students will be able to interpret it. This is where the teachers come. Most of the teachers in my school are able to make convoluted topics easily understandable and are able to answer even the most advanced questions.
Although some educators are good, I have found a few that is absolutely unknowledgeable that it made me wonder how he/she even got hired. These “bad” teachers rely on us to study topics on our own and expect us to gain additional knowledge by personal research.
Projects and Assignments
After a month of studying, I found that the number of group projects is way less than those in the National Curriculum. However, the number of homework in form of worksheets are overwhelming. Even in recess, my fellow students and I do homework to lighten the burden at home.
The Indonesian National Curriculum heavily encourages group work, usually in the form of presentation. For example, in my previous school, having two group presentations a month was the norm. Other than that, teachers rarely give homework in the form of worksheets as it is usually done in school.
To sum it up: WAY HARDER. The tests given are usually in the form of structured questions that are complicated and require knowledge from outside the classroom. Math, specifically, requires us to think outside the box and implement knowledge from prior chapters to answer the problems.
Most tests are in the form of multiple choices. To answer it, you simply need to memorize the textbook and listen well in lectures because teachers usually give hints on which topics they will stress on. Side note: I have actually been taught by a teacher that copies test questions from the internet!
Even though my school life has been hectic and stressful for the past month, I did not regret my choice of mutating to a Cambridge school AT ALL. I love the way the teachers are updated and are enthusiastic about their jobs, the way they push us – and even the homework! I love my current school and am not planning to run away from it anytime soon.
Your Runaway Panda.