Integration of Papuan Traditional Living Systems and Modernism – Modernism destroys tradition. It is the first sentence written by Anthony Giddens in his discussion of community traditions in his book, Living in a Post Traditional Society (1994). Likewise, we often hear about the pessimism of the community who still adhere to tradition when modernity entered and led to the modernization of various aspects of their lives.

Still quoting Anthony Giddens, that the phase of modern social development is supported by an important aspect, namely the collaboration between modernity and tradition—until then this was difficult to realize when a character called reflective modernity or high modernity emerged. As a result, tradition then receives a character that is completely different from its nature, this is what makes traditional society ‘difficult’ to accept the different character of modernity whose colors are very contrasting.

As a reminder and illustration, traditional society is segmental and dualistic. Activities characterized by politic and leadership do not penetrate the everyday realm of traditional life. Many things are taboo. But that doesn’t mean traditional society is irrational.

Rationalization does not conflict with tradition; on the other hand, although the evidence has not emerged yet, we suspect that rationalization has allowed for the long-term existence of more traditional forms beyond those found in oral culture. We will give an example with the life of people with strong traditions like in Papua. A lot of things are done with rational considerations—especially the ones we will discuss with regard to culture-based education.

The culture in the Bintang Mountains has an initiation education system called Ap Iwool. Surprisingly, after we examined Ap Iwool, it turned out that it has a traditional education system that is structured starting from the age of basic education—if this is combined with the logic of the same function, education and the introduction of all skills and abilities to achieve wider knowledge are carried out at the age of primary education (6-11 years). Traditionally, it turns out that Ap Iwool has the same functional equivalence and rationalization as modern education. In Ngalum (the local language of the Bintang Mountains), Ap Iwool means home; a house that has 4 pillars and 4 stoves as a representation of the clan. Similar to the Asmat Tribe, initiation education is also carried out in a traditional house called Jew which represents a clan within a certain traditional family in the kinship system of the Asmat Tribe.

In Ap Iwool each clan has the authority and power to access vital and crucial areas of expertise such as hunting, river use, and forest management. Each clan has its own role in their social system, so that the education provided is very specific and contextual. The provision of education that aims to acquire certain skills is carried out in open education. The issue of what role to play in accordance with the authority that has been determined for each clan is another matter.

If the logic of this function is analogous to the breath of modern education, this system that is considered traditional can be applied to carry out modern education for children which has a starting point from the traditional social system. The best and closest way to bring a child (Papua) to modern education is to educate using their own cultural patterns and goods. In the traditional education pattern (in Papua) there has been an implied effort that is more or less compatible with a child’s world view.

Freedom to learn, if it is interpreted as changing the order, creating new learning strategies, and presenting contexts that did not previously exist, then what we are doing in PBPM (Papuan Cultural Studies and Modernization) is a concrete form of Freedom to Learn.

To quote the term of deconstruction, what we do based on the premise above is certainly manifestation of such theory. PBPM for us is a new strategy, model, and way of thinking—after the many deadlocks we have faced on the ground. If deconstructionism is considered as a postmodernism in Western Philosophy developed by Jacques Derrida to criticize the old philosophical schools which are considered obsolete or out of date, we look at rational analogy and function logic—even though the accuracy of its use is not precise: we are deconstructing education through PBPM.

There are many reasons why deconstruction is suitable to be applied rationally in PBPM and vice versa in terms of function logic;

First, PBPM is a new strategy, a new leaf, a new way of thinking—though not entirely new, PBPM specializes in context. PBPM does not make conditions uniform. PBPM is no longer based on textbooks that are mass-printed, without ever knowing which children are studying them, what the conditions are and the starting point. PBPM involves an entirely new external party—a source of learning and asking questions, not just teachers; learn from experts in a specific field so that there is an exchange of values ​​in Multisite Learning. Students learn from electricians, from digital artists, from entrepreneurs, from bankers, from government agencies, from craftsmen. All beyond the ability of the teacher, which must be admitted is very limited.

Second, PBPM is a form of criticism of the existing system—which is not compatible with the conditions of Papuan education in particular, and with the conditions of the Papuan people both economically, socially, and culturally. PBPM involves cultural aspects into modern education learning materials, into Mathematics, Linguistics, Natural Sciences, social studies, and even into observing the economic system. PBPM examines the local culture in which a child grows up and has an identity.

Third, PBPM becomes a critique and correction of binary oppositions in education: smart–stupid, soul–body, curricular–extracurricular, class–outside class, modern–traditional, teacher–student and so on. In PBPM, the boundary that defines the binary opposition is being eroded gradually or all at once. All forms of intelligence, ability, skill are appreciated in many spaces. PBPM is an open education and seeks to break the binary opposition. It is possible, a learning material in class can be obtained from a student’s explanation based on his/her cultural background—the teacher also learns, and relates it to formal learning; the binary opposition of teachers and students has faded here. From a teacher’s point of view, it might be like working twice; he must study the cultural background of the child, then link it to formal learning, afterwards facilitate the return of a learning model that looks new but is familiar to the child.

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